What are employers doing to address age diversity?

A qualitative workingwise.co.uk survey of employers looks at perceptions, policies and practice around age diversity in the workplace.

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Our recent workingwise.co.uk survey showed many workers consider the recruitment process to be permeated by ageist attitudes, making it more difficult for them to get shortlisted for jobs. Eighty-four per cent said they thought it was harder to get shortlisted because of their age.

Yet many employers don’t seem to see this as an issue. workingwise.co.uk’s qualitative survey of employers, many of them with progressive policies on older workers, shows that, while more than half said over 40% of their employees were over 50, most did not keep a record of age diversity in their organisation and 85% did not consider age in the recruitment process.

This may be because they think they don’t have an issue with age diversity – although nearly half either didn’t feel they did enough to recruit, retain and promote older workers or didn’t know if they did. Nevertheless, over three quarters said they used older workers in career-related case studies, 69% said they check job adverts for ageist language and all of them said they encouraged all workers to take part in training and development.

When it come to career progression later in life the survey, sponsored by UBS and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, showed under a quarter offered a midlife review to workers and only 8% offered support to older workers – or others – who want to change track. Around a third offer apprenticeships to older workers and 85% say they value older workers’ experience.  Other findings are:

  • 62% offered mentoring to workers
  • 58% helped workers approaching retirement to prepare
  • Employers said they were either not considering redundancies or, if they were, that age would not come into their considerations
  • 31% offers menopause support, with workshops and signposting being the most favoured, and employers said benefits included increased retention and engagement.

Mandy Garner, editor of workingwise.co.uk, said: “Our survey of employees and jobseekers found high levels of perceived age discrimination in the recruitment process. The employers who took part in this latest survey were mainly smaller SMEs in sectors including accountancy, engineering and technology. Many have a positive approach to older workers, but we know, both from our own research and studies by others, that older workers are facing serious problems when it comes to redundancies during Covid and finding new jobs. More needs to be done to promote the benefits of hiring older workers, particularly in an ageing workforce, and the importance of including age in diversity considerations. Although employers may not think they are discriminating against older workers, there needs to be greater awareness of how older workers are experiencing the challenges of Covid and a more proactive approach to encouraging older workers to apply for vacancies.”



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