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Age Diversity: The answer to the skills shortage?

20 Sept Age diversity content

It’s no secret that companies are struggling to find the right talent. And most have a robust strategy for recruiting the best Gen Z candidates – after all, that’s the best way to protect the future of your business.

Isn’t it?

Well, yes. But as well as focusing on new talent, your recruitment strategy should be looking at the other end of the workforce. And that’s not just because it’s an inclusive thing to do.

By 2050, the working age population of the UK will have shrunk by 25%. That’s right: in less than 3 decades from now the number of skilled candidates available to your business will have shrunk by a quarter.

Meanwhile, in that period the number of over-60s will grow by 40%. That’s a bunch of people who know a lot about your industry retiring and taking their knowledge and experience straight to the golf course.

That’s going to create a great big skills shortage. And like it or not, it will affect your business.

So how can adopting an age diversity policy help you in the skills shortage race? Here are a few tips for why – and how – you should be rethinking your age strategy.

Remember that wisdom matters as much as innovation

Imagine a workplace where young, tech-savvy minds collaborate with seasoned pros who’ve seen it all? That’s where the magic happens – innovative ideas blended with tried-and-tested wisdom.

Age-diverse teams often come up with creative solutions that no one saw coming, so building teams that are diverse in age as well as other characteristics will give you the best chance of success.

TIP: Create a culture where older workers feel they fit in with their younger colleagues. Offer flexible working to enable employees to care for relatives, a transparent menopause policy and advice on pensions and retirement. Oh, and review your perks and benefits so they appeal to everyone.

Enable knowledge transfer

It goes without saying that your senior members of staff are one of your biggest assets. After all, seasoned employees can pass on their skills and expertise to the younger generation, ensuring that institutional knowledge doesn’t vanish with retirement.

The mentorship that naturally occurs within an age-diverse workforce is priceless, so make sure you harness it.

But mentorship also works both ways. More companies are now offering ‘reverse mentorship’, where younger employees mentor more senior colleagues. Diversity & inclusion, sustainability and tech and AI are just some of the topics that reverse mentoring can cover.

TIP: Set up mentorship partnerships between junior members of staff and older colleagues to share skills and experiences from both generations.

Encourage lifelong learning

Guess what? We all still love to learn – even the over 55s. Investing in your senior colleagues’ professional development shows a commitment to this section of your workforce and will make them more likely to stay. Learning and development that targets older employees shows you value them and want to invest in their future.

TIP: Provide opportunities for older employees to update their skills and stay current with industry trends by offering training schemes targeted at senior workers.

Play the long game

There’s a perception that employers should invest in younger colleagues over and above their older counterparts. But hang on, let’s think about that for a second. You might hope to keep a recently graduated Gen Z employee for around 4-5 years, right? Whereas a 50-year-old employee might still have 20 years of their working life ahead of them.

Treated well and given opportunities for growth, this is time they can give to your company. So what’s the difference? You should be investing in your employees – however old they are.

TIP: Check that your career pathways value the additional skills older candidates may already have and see your older employees as having as much longevity as the younger ones.

Target older candidates in your hiring

Age diversity isn’t just about retaining the senior staff you have. If you’re looking to bring more experienced employees into your business, create a strategy to do so.

That means creating age-inclusive job listings, avoiding language that might unintentionally deter older applicants and focusing on skills and qualifications rather than age bracket.

TIP: Remove age-related information from CVs during the initial screening process to reduce bias.

Age diversity isn’t just a feel-good concept. It’s a strategic move that can boost your business in unexpected ways. The fight against the skills shortage requires all hands on deck – regardless of their birth year.

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