The average age of workers in the UK is rising. In fact, the over-50s now make up 31% of the UK workforce. That’s a 21% increase since the early nineties. Unfortunately, despite an ageing workforce and clear laws against age discrimination, many older workers still experience age discrimination at work. Whether finding work or being overlooked in their current roles, mature workers still face unfair ageism. As an employer, it’s up to you to end ageism in your organisation and build an age-inclusive workplace.
Age discrimination isn’t just illegal, it is a massive waste of valuable resources. Older workers have a wide set of transferable skills that can be an asset to employers. What’s more, these skills are hard to train. That’s not all. Diverse workforces have been shown to make better decisions and outperform non-inclusive teams. They also boast a healthier work culture. Put simply, there are huge benefits to being an age-inclusive employer.
This article offers some actionable advice for employers on how to promote age inclusion in the workplace.
What Does Age Inclusion Mean?
Let’s start by looking at what age inclusivity is.
In a professional context, the term age inclusion means that an organisation embraces employees of all ages. For instance, age-inclusive companies will have policies in place to ensure that their business employs and promotes age diversity.
However, this doesn’t mean simply hiring older workers. Age inclusivity trickles into all aspects of the business. From using age-inclusive language to challenging age-related stereotypes, age inclusion means taking all the necessary steps to welcome and embrace workers of all ages.
Age-inclusive employers must learn how to manage multi-generational workforces in a fair, inclusive, and supportive way.
How To Build An Age-Inclusive Work Environment In 5 Steps
Now that we know what it is, let’s see how employers can drive age-inclusivity in their businesses.
1. Screen job descriptions for non-inclusive language
Language matters. The seemingly innocent use of an adjective could make all the difference in who applies for positions at your company. Therefore, the first step in building an age-inclusive business is to review all your recruitment language. This includes job descriptions.
Scan each and every piece of recruitment literature you have, looking out for language that could discourage mature workers from applying. You should also include language that encourages workers of all ages to apply.
If you need assistance with this, our experts can help. Get in touch to find out more about our job advert inclusivity screening and how we can support your business.
2. Rethink your recruitment strategy
The best way to drive age inclusion in your organisation is by hiring more experienced workers. To do this, you may need to rethink your current strategy.
Here are some ways that you can make your recruitment process more age-inclusive:
- Provide all HR and recruitment staff with training on tackling unconscious bias, inclusive hiring, and diverse hiring
- Stop asking candidates for their date of birth and graduation dates on applications
- Consider your language and avoid phrases that could suggest an age bias (eg. young, fresh, dynamic, digital native, etc.)
- Avoid questions about health
- Update employer branding materials to reflect workers of all ages
3. Review company benefits to ensure they are age inclusive
Sometimes it’s the little things that matter the most. What you think are excellent employee benefits could reveal a hidden age bias. So, the next step is to make sure company perks work for employees of all ages.
For instance, older workers may value perks related to flexible working or wellness initiatives more than foosball tables and offsites. Put simply, to attract an age-diverse talent pool, your benefits need to appeal to a diverse age group.
It’s important not to make assumptions here. The best way to identify what employee benefits older workers want is to ask them. You could even consider asking retired employees for feedback on the benefits they would like to see.
4. Make age inclusivity part of your D&I strategy
Most organisations today appreciate the importance of having a diversity and inclusion strategy in place. The numbers speak for themselves.
According to Deloitte, the cash flow per employee is 2.3 times higher in diverse companies. Another study found that businesses with diverse management teams enjoyed a 19% increase in revenue. And when it comes to performance, diverse teams overachieve there too. Research by Gartner indicated that team performance improves by as much as 30% in diverse companies.
With so much at stake, it’s time to make sure your equity, diversity, and inclusion strategy addresses age inclusivity. This includes age-inclusive policies and training.
5. Ensure your website is age inclusive
Just as the language and images you use in your recruitment and employer branding materials can affect who applies to your company, so can your website. Therefore, it’s important to go through your website with a fine-tooth comb to ensure you are using age-inclusive language. Your images should reflect a diverse age group of employees.
When potential employees or clients look at your website, they should be able to see clearly that your business values age inclusivity. Make sure your website showcases all of your diversity and inclusion strategies, policies, and actions. If you have a company blog, that’s a great space to share what your business is doing to promote age-inclusive practices.
6. Put your money where your mouth is
Join the conversation. You can do a lot as an employer to support older workers both in your organisation and outside of it. The best way to get involved is to speak to local charities, such as Age UK. They will be able to offer you advice on resources, training, and events near you.
In the meantime, there are some actionable steps you can take:
- Build employee resource groups for seasoned workers
- Run workshops and regular training seminars on diversity, particularly age inclusivity
- Create opportunities in your company for career changers or mature workers looking to re-enter the workforce
- Create benefits to support mature workers, such as flexible working, remote working, or phased retirement
- Build age-diverse teams across the whole organisation (not just in some departments or functions)
- Offer older workers development opportunities such as job shadowing and cross training
- Incorporate retired or senior professionals from outside the business to consult on projects
- Support local government initiatives in rallying for legislative change and more rights for older workers
The benefits of employing older workers are huge. Not only do age-diverse teams perform better, but older workers offer a wealth of valuable transferable skills. What’s more, hiring more older people in your organisation fosters a more diverse and inclusive workplace.
At Refreshing a Career, we want to break the cycle of age discrimination at work. Our employer resource hub is packed with guides on everything from funding to training. We also job advert inclusivity screening to help you build an inclusive workplace.
Be sure to browse our range of employer services, including advertising your roles on our dedicated career change jobs board.
If you are an older job seeker, you’ll find a range of support and resources to help you with your job hunt. From understanding your rights to job application tips, we have you covered. You can also browse the latest opportunities on our jobs board.