With the labour pool diminishing due to workforce ageing, skills shortages will create an increasing demand for mature age workers.
It will become increasingly important for employers to recruit, retain, and develop existing workforces as they age and organisations recognise the sound business case and competitive advantage it brings.
It is also likely that age diversity will more accurately match the demographic of many organisations' customer/client base.
The following information will apply to all staff members. However, it is important to keep these HR functions and initiatives in mind while specifically catering to older workers in order to maximise your chances of keeping the mature age workforce in the labour market for longer.
Older workers can bring a great deal of experience, knowledge, skills and established networks to your organisation.
Additional benefits from recognising and recruiting older workers may include (in addition to those mentioned earlier):
- Decreasing staff turnover – which also decreases training and recruitment costs
- A wider recruitment pool from which to source staff
- An improved external reputation for the organisation – which boosts morale, motivation, satisfaction and productivity
- Improved customer satisfaction – both internal and external
Considering age in the recruitment stage
During the recruitment of mature age workers, it is important to take into consideration sound age management strategies and practices such as:
- Being aware of age diversity human resources policies such as ensuring references to age (actual or implied) are removed from job descriptions and advertisements, as well as during the interview process
- Paying attention to the language used in advertisements, for example omitting the use of vernacular that describes personal characteristics such as ‘energetic’, ‘fast paced’, ‘highly driven’, ‘vitality’
- Reviewing recruitment and promotion methods to identify possible areas of inadvertent discrimination such as intimidating mature applicants
- Ensuring managers and HR practitioners recognise and value the recruitment of mature age staff based on competency and skills, rather than hiring based on formal qualifications alone
- Recognising and valuing the particular skills that mature age workers can bring to an organisation, for example, mentoring, coaching, the wisdom of longer experience, in-depth knowledge of the organisation and systems, and established networks
- Gaining an understanding and utilising good public support programs such as Government funded programs for wage subsidies or settling-in grants such as the Federal Government’s Corporate Champions Programs
- Working with external recruitment agencies to ensure that they adopt age-fair practices
Below are specific guidelines and suggestions on how to be clear and methodical during the process of job analysis, job description and advertising.
When recruiting, it is important to begin by establishing the key aspects related to the job.
This will assist in determining various demands which may require modification in order to cater for varying abilities and needs such as physical limitations and the need for flexible work arrangements due to caring responsibilities.
Consideration of key aspects of the job may include:
- Duties and tasks performed
- The work environment including physical aspects of the job
- The use of any specific tools and equipment in order to perform the job
- Supervisory relationships
- Relevant relationships within and outside the organisation
- Minimum job requirements
- Any flexible work options such as part-time, job-sharing or working from home
Next, it is beneficial to take the time to specify the job description for the position.
This will assist to focus on desired tasks, experience and skills rather than personal characteristics which are open to personal perceptions/opinions and age discrimination.
Key considerations may include:
- Define selection criteria for the job
- Recruit based on merit rather than personal characteristics
- Avoid intentional or unconscious discrimination
- Appropriately assign occupational codes
- Define titles and pay levels
- Establish performance requirements
- Make decisions on job restructuring
- Adequately train new staff in their duties and tasks
The next step involves careful consideration of advertising for applicants to the position.
This ensures that you are inclusive in your focus and attract applicants from a more diverse talent pool, including the growing mature age demographic.
Some helpful tips for advertising a vacant position include:
- Use age-neutral language in all advertising, avoiding vernacular that focuses on personal characteristics such as ‘energetic’, ‘fast paced’, ‘highly driven’
- A focus on the requirements of the position rather than personal characteristics
- Taking into consideration transferrable skills and experience as well as formal qualifications
- Advertise broadly in order to reach a wide pool of applicants. Channels to consider may include:
- National and local advertising
- Jobcentres such as Centrelink
- Using age-friendly recruitment agencies
- Word of mouth
- Newspapers, magazines, newsletters, and flyers
- Websites (internal and external)
- E-mail to relevant contact lists
- Social media and online networks such as Facebook and LinkedIn
Important note: If you use external recruitment agencies, it is extremely important to be clear in conveying your policy for employing mature age staff. Otherwise, you risk having older applicants ‘screened out’, resulting in a significantly smaller talent pool from which to choose.
For a full list of resources for the recruitment process, click here.