For the last few months Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been targeting the over 50s as a way to help grow the UK economy and to fill job roles in what continues to be a somewhat candidate-driven market. From mid-life MOTs, to a proposed pension shake-up and a wartime-esque strapline of ‘Britain needs you,’ a number of financial incentives have been considered to lure some of the 1 million 50-65s that have left work, back into employment.
Of course ‘over 50’s’ is a very wide bracket, and within that you could still have parents with children in primary school, right the way through to those who have worked for over 50 years. But we’re not talking about aliens – these are simply potential employees with a bit more experience under their belts, with potentially another 20+ years of work to contribute. Attracting this talent pool helps your organisation to close talent gaps, increase diversity, and encourages your current aged 50+ employees stay in work longer.
However, financial incentives are only one small piece of the puzzle. The majority consciously left the workforce and don’t need to work for the money. Sure, the cost-of-living crisis might mean some decide to return to work for the salary, but the majority need some other incentives to ‘get back to work’ and the wants, needs and motivators of this group will be different to those in their 20s or 30s.
So how do you optimise your business to attract and retain this talent, aside from the money?
For those that can be incentivised to return, it’s unlikely that they want to do so on a full-time basis. They have other priorities that need to fit alongside work, whether that be prioritising leisure or family time, or more of a necessity such as helping care for their own parents. Offering part-time roles, job shares, flexitime and term time only contracts can be a great way to strike the balance for all involved, and important to advertise from the outset, as typically this group would not have had access to such flexibility earlier in their career.
Enhanced employee benefits
Private healthcare is a great place to start in terms of attractive benefits for all, but there are some other things you can do specifically for this age group. For example, Saga now have a Grandparents’ Leave policy, whereby employees can take one week’s paid leave on the birth of every grandchild. Saga also allow employees’ grandchildren to benefit from an on-site subsidised nursery, relieving additional pressure from the employee and their wider family.
Training and development
Many of those being targeted by the current campaigns left work at the start of the pandemic. This group are potentially less used to remote working and the technology many of us now use on a daily basis. This can feel alienating to some, and so ensuring training is provided up front can really help. It’s also important to be mindful that everyone in your workforce is deserving of investment when it comes to training and development and to not assume that those at the later end of their career aren’t interested in development or progression.
Returning to work for whatever reason can be a big transition for some. Offering coaching to help people adjust to being back in the workplace can be a huge reassurance. It also helps people to feel that this shift is acknowledged and that they are being supported. It can also really help with finding that important balance between work and everything else in life and creating a career plan for the next few years that incorporates all of their priorities.
Remove line management responsibility
From speaking to people in this group we know that line management is not something they are keen to return to. Fulfilling work in line with their values, using their expertise and experience is all appealing, but the burden of being responsible for others and all of the extra work that can bring is not something that will attract people back into work. Think about the roles where expertise and experience is essential, but without the need to supervise a team.
Open recruitment process
All of these ideas are great ways to attract aged 50+ employees, so call them out explicitly in your job adverts. If you wait until further into the process to explain the great incentives you have, you’ll find you won’t get people applying in the first place. Also, in the same way you might explicitly say you’re an equal opportunity employer and welcome applications from everyone, include some reference to age as well as gender and ethnicity. Showing you have considered and value the experience this group brings will help give people the confidence to apply.
As well as attracting a more diverse workforce, talking about these initiatives or approaches can really help to retain your current experienced employees and let them see that they are valued as much as their younger counterparts.