The Centre for Ageing Better has launched new support to help employers remove age bias from their recruitment processes to maximise the full potential benefits of older workers for organisations.

The charity has today released a practical toolkit including three free tools to help reduce age-bias in employers’ recruitment process.

It is expected that older job applicants will feel more confident and informed about applying for jobs with employers who take action on the toolkit’s simple and practical advice.

The project has been delivered with the award-winning social purpose company Behavioural Insights Team, in collaboration with a representative group of employers, recruiters and older workers. The toolkit is also jointly branded by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) and the Recruitment and Employment Confederation (REC).

Project partners have been helping to design and test the most effective, age-friendly approaches over the past 14 months.

The support made available today builds on the work of the original GROW project which launched in October 2021 and included research into the current and future recruitment landscape for older workers, older workers’ experience of recruitment and how the choice of language used in recruitment materials impacts older workers.

Previous participants in the GROW project include the cross-party think tank Demos, the Institute for Employment Studies and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR).

The newly-released recruitment tools are designed to help employers make more age-friendly job adverts, improve their communication around flexible working and deliver interview invitation and scheduling that better suits older workers.

Helping to increase the number of 50+ people returning to work has been a key focus of the government this year but there still remains a significant shortfall with in excess of 200,000 more workers aged 50-64 economically inactive this year than before the pandemic.

John Kiernan, Employer Engagement and Network Manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Age bias in the recruitment process is incredibly damaging. It locks out older applicants from finding the right job for them but it also means that employers are missing out on a huge talent pool that could help them resolve labour and skills shortages.

“The new GROW toolkit provides practical help for employers and workers and have been tested thoroughly with 17 businesses and organisations. We hope that the advice we’re making available will help employers, older applicants and ultimately, the UK economy.”

Claire McCartney, Senior Policy Adviser, Resourcing and Inclusion, CIPD, said: “To harness the skills and experience 50+ workers possess, employers need to improve the way they recruit, train and retain workers.

“As such, we are delighted to support these new practical tools aimed at supporting age-inclusive recruitment and retention and will promote them across our membership to support good practice in this area.”

Vicki Leonard, Senior Talent Acquisition Partner (Enterprise) at Saga, said: “I think the toolkit is going to be great in educating employers on the advantages of hiring older workers and also highlighting how just small changes can make a big difference in the candidate experience for this generation.

“It has been an honour to be part of the GROW project with the Centre of Ageing Better, as we have all come together to bring age to the forefront of everyone’s minds. At Saga, where our customers are all over 50, we think it’s particularly important that the same care we give to customers is given across our candidate and employee experience.”

Sophie Chapman, Engagement Advisor at Lincolnshire Co-op, said: “The GROW toolkit is great for businesses of all sizes. They’re easy to follow and have been carefully put together by like-minded employers who strive for inclusivity.

“At Lincolnshire Co-op, we have simplified our recruitment process to ensure accessibility, are working with external agencies to provide older job seekers with a work placement and employability programme, support colleagues experiencing age related wellbeing issues, such as menopause, and offer a range of benefits, including flexible working and colleague discount.

“Over a quarter of our colleagues are aged 55 and over and we recognise the positive difference they make to our family of businesses and the local communities they serve.

“It was a pleasure to be involved in the GROW project, sharing best practice and working with the Centre for Ageing Better to continue to support older workers.”

Kerry McGowan, Managing Director at The HR Specialists, said: “At The HR Specialists we support small businesses with HR and recruitment support.  Many small businesses have very light if any recruitment processes in place.  We assist them with the employment law aspects and putting in place robust processes to support them.

“The good recruitment toolkit will go some way to providing the framework and structure for small businesses. The toolkit will ensure a fair and equitable process to all applicants whether by removing unconscious bias or expand employers thinking when it comes to recruiting older workers or indeed workers of all ages and backgrounds.

“We enjoyed being part of the process to create the toolkit and we hope the toolkit will reach a wider audience and support more businesses.”

Shazia Ejaz, Campaigns and Insights Director at REC, said: ‘’How people recruit is so important to creating a diverse, inclusive and productive workplace. Making sure that older workers are given equal opportunities to find and stay in work are crucial if we are to create productive workplaces which benefit from all the talent pools available. Our continued work with the Centre for Ageing Better on educating employers about how to get recruitment for older workers right is very important to us and our recruitment member businesses who also have an important role to play in this.

‘’In a tight labour market is important that employers recruit from the widest talent pool and this guide provides great practical steps including tips on writing and promoting job adverts to help ensure best practice in this area.”

The Grow 2 toolkit is available here: