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Don’t let age be a boundary in your workforce

As employers, we should be used to having no fixed retirement age.

In most part, we have all broadened our minds to the fact that people are living longer and either wanting to or needing to work for longer. However, there are still situations where struggling small to medium enterprises are contemplating cost-cutting measures. Some of these measures have been to try and amicably end the working life of those in their late sixties or seventies. This article is a reminder not to view all those in their later years as those who should ‘move on’ and instead focus on retaining valuable experience and identifying upskilling training needs.

Employing strengths

For those that continue in employment at this stage in their life, we promote employing their strengths and upskilling them where necessary. You might find that during times of economic uncertainty that you haven’t been able to afford to upskill your employees and instead had to concentrate on keeping the business afloat. We would recommend that you now find the time to identify any individual training needs through supervisions and appraisals and, where a need is identified, arrange for the employee to work with another skilled person or if part of a team, organise ‘buddies’ so that employees can learn skills from each other whilst working.

E-learning courses

If employees are working with technology, e-learning may also be a relatively cheap method of training. You don’t have to pay huge amounts of money for training if you can do it in-house. There are advantages and disadvantages to inhouse and external methods of training. External courses can provide excellent, professional coaching by experienced trainers; but they can be expensive if you don’t find the right supplier who you would want to tailor the courses specifically to the needs of your employees being trained. Internal courses can be tailored to your requirements of course. Either way, they should reinforce your own culture, standards, policies, and documentation. However, if done in-house you need to ensure that your trainer is sufficiently skilled. A compromise may be to plan a course in-house covering all the elements that the business requires and ask an external trainer to deliver specific parts to your requirements, on site. This may be cheaper and more convenient than everybody attending an external event.

Retaining skills and developing talent

By 2021, 23% of the population will be aged over 65. The overall population of the UK is ageing and the relative proportion of those aged over 65 is increasing. It is predicted that by 2020, a third of all workers will be aged over 50; in 2015 this figure was one in four; it was one in five in 1992. To be successful in an increasingly competitive marketplace, organisations need to attract and retain valuable skilled employees and develop the talents of all their employees no matter their age, gender, sexual preference, disability and so forth. We obviously need to recognise that not everyone will jump at the chance of upskilling, but also that we shouldn’t assume that they wouldn’t be interested.

Embracing diversity

Age is a poor predictor of performance and it is misleading to equate physical and mental ability with age. Moreover, differences in absenteeism between age groups are slight. Ageism lowers morale, reduces the pool of candidates available, and makes bad business sense. Therefore, embrace the diversity of your workforce, and if your older employees need upskilling do not be afraid to invest in them.

Further guidance

In need of upskilling your employees? Perhaps you need to implement a fair appraisal system? Or maybe you are concerned that your senior management team needs a refresher on age discrimination. We run HR Skills and People Management development e-Learning courses. HR Solutions can also develop bespoke training courses. Speak to us directly to discuss your business requirements by calling 0844 324 5840 or contact us online.




Got questions? Looking for advice?


Got questions? Looking for advice?


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