Written by Roger Runswick, Managing Director at The 50plus

The 50plus predominately employs mature workers to provide a broad range of property maintenance services. Some 70% of the company’s domestic customer base is estimated to be aged over 65 years.

Managing Director Roger Runswick looks at the pros, and some cons, of deploying an older workforce. Roger was 50 when he started the company and is now in his 70s – so he counts himself firmly within this category.

“We are proud to be supporting the mature workforce. This is an age group that brings with it a wealth of experience and wisdom. But sadly, is often overlooked and forgotten. Ageism and unconscious bias in the hiring process is still a huge issue – as some short-sighted employers can look at an ageing applicant negatively.

Our population is ageing. Unretirement is the trend of returning to work after retirement – and it is becoming increasingly common, and necessary, during the current cost of living crisis. We will only see more mature people in the nation’s workforce as we go forward. For this cohort who may well have retired from high-paying jobs the content of the work becomes more important than the remuneration. In our case, our workforce enjoys helping older people who require tailored and personalised support – not a one-size-fits-all approach. We offer these workers a sense of belonging and an avenue to do rewarding work.

So, what are the benefits of hiring older workers? Firstly, employers enjoy a reduced turnover of personnel. For many industries, this can be a big issue and people in this age group are often looking to stick with one job for the rest of their employment. They have experimented, often worked across multiple sectors, and know what they enjoy. Aside from this, they know what their capabilities are and what they are good at. We find that these people prioritise finding a great company to stick with until they are ready for full retirement.

In addition, with age comes experience and wisdom. Mature workers are usually able to offer a better service – both in terms of the finished product and the customer journey with genuine resonance and interaction along the way. Because this segment is less financially driven, often with no mortgage, savings built and pensions taken, they are working because they want to be active or to top-up their pensions. This means that you can enjoy greater levels of loyalty than in other age groups of staff. We find this group is more health-conscious and as such has far better awareness of health and safety protocols – which is a win for us, the employees and the customers.

Of course, all age ranges come with their own unique challenges. For those in the mature category, IT and digital systems can at times become barriers. You will need to factor in whether a level of patience and training is required. We find that many older workers are proficient with technology – but there is a chance they are not.  Remember, they will not be digital natives like the younger generations are. This simply means their skillsets, ethics and value-adds come from other inherent traits and abilities. Another consideration is that this cohort can become unwell as health deteriorates with the onset of age, although this is somewhat negated by the lack of unauthorised sick days from this group – who are far more conscientious and respectful of their employer.

Older workers bring with them a host of benefits and experiences that can be invaluable to a business. By offering increased levels of flexibility, technical support and training, employers can bring a group of loyal, motivated, and happy workers with unbeatable levels of experience to the frontline.

In conclusion, I believe that employers with unconscious bias or ageist attitudes are missing out on a huge opportunity. Engaging with an older workforce will certainly help many businesses to reach their full potential. Putting people before profits will naturally drive the latter.”