Challenge Stereotypes to Harness Talent

Tuesday 10th February 2015

At a time when businesses need to harness top talent, a recent reports suggests that older workers are often subject to age-related stereotyping. Failure to embrace diversity is a missed opportunity for businesses.

Research from Business in the Community (BITC) found that despite the abolition of the default retirement age in 2011, people over 50 who become involuntarily unemployed were “less likely” to return to work, especially compared to their younger peers.

Results showed that less than a third of people aged between 50 and 64 who become unemployed successfully find another job. Those who are able to find re-employment are more likely than younger people to end up in alternatives to regular employment, such as self-employment and even unpaid work. However, a much larger proportion of this age group were unable to return to work.

BITC’s report ‘The Missing Million: Pathways back into employment’, found that the over 50s “demonstrated a substantial desire to work”. Around a quarter of older people who lost their job and became inactive would prefer to be working still.

However, age discrimination was cited as a major barrier.  Those surveyed aged 50 to 69 said they had experienced some kind of discrimination during the recruitment process and felt their age was the main reason.

The report said: “Continued adherence – sometimes conscious but especially unconscious – to age-related stereotyping can blind many employers to the changes that have occurred in the structure of society and the modern labour market.”

Yet previous research from BITC showed that harnessing the power of older workers could boost economic output by up to 5.6% of GDP.

Sheena Pickersgill, People and Change Consultant at Gordons, says “Good talent management creates the working conditions to unlock talent no matter what the characteristics of individual employees. So have a close look at your recruitment practices and at those making the recruitment decisions within your business to ensure that they are making decisions on merit and not on outdated stereotypes. It could boost your productivity.”

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