Looking After Your Older Workers - as Published on Edge Online

4 mins

Posted on 21 Aug 2014

The modern business manager faces many challenges and supervising a team that is diverse in age is just one example. Doyle Clayton’s recent Age Before Beauty? report suggests that in the vast majority of cases, the older employee remains a respected and appreciated team member. As a leader, how can you best utilise their skillset and expertise? Jessica Corsi, partner at employment law firm Doyle Clayton, offers her advice.

Hold experience in high esteem

As a rule of thumb, older people in the workplace are the most experienced. So why not tap into the wealth of knowledge and expertise that they can offer? Newer employees can learn a lot from their older peers.

The latest research undertaken by Doyle Clayton involved over 1,000 interviews and it was conducted across a broad cross-section of businesses, with employees varying in age and sex. The report found that 66% of employees believe people in their 60s are just as valuable team members as their younger colleagues. 21% of participants believe people in their 60s to be more effective team members. This is perhaps due to the experience and practical advice they have to offer.

How can you make the most of this expertise then? You could set up a mentoring scheme. Younger workers will jump at the opportunity to learn from their older colleagues and benefit from what they have to offer. Indeed, Doyle Clayton’s report found that 79% of Generation Y (those in their 20s and early 30s, also known as Millennials) value the experience of colleagues in their 60s.

Push for promotion

It is important that you make older workers feel able to apply for promotions. Older employees do not always assume that they will be treated fairly when it comes to consideration for promotions, training and other important aspects of career development. By contrast, younger employees often have the confidence to express their workplace expectations and requirements.

Not only are older workers valuable assets to your company, but legally employers are required to ensure that all employees are treated equally when it comes to promotion or training, irrespective of age. The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for an employer to treat employees less favourably because of age. Employers must also take all reasonable steps to ensure that no one suffers unlawful discrimination at the hands of their colleagues, whether conscious or unconscious, intentional or unintentional.

So, what can you do to ensure this happens? Encourage your older workers to make the most of workplace opportunities to the same extent as younger employees. Why not publish opportunities that arise on the company intranet so that they are widely available and accessible to all? Managers could also approach the topic during one to ones or appraisals.

Tackling team spirit

Fostering a strong team spirit is essential in any business and can also help to overcome any generation gaps. In order for staff to work efficiently and effectively motivation is key. It is also one of the products of a good team spirit.

Generation Y may be the public face of many businesses but older employees are just as integral a part of the team. If there are any age or cultural issues to be addressed, this needs to be done in the form of training, coaching and mentoring. This is normal practice for most large and medium-sized employers, but it is likely to be overlooked by small employers.

How can you promote this sense of team? Social events can be an easy way to bring people together in a non-work environment. Staff drinks, away days and office socials all help employees to forge positive relationships. Ensure you take everyone’s needs into account when organising such events to maximise their team-building potential.

A little training goes a long way

Technology is an instrumental part of any workspace. Though younger workers may adapt to new technology and software with ease, some older employees may not be as technologically fluent. Older workers may struggle to keep up with your business’s software and hardware.

What can you do to counter this? Ensuring that all staff, regardless of age, are up to date with the technological requirements of their position can be a good place to start. This could involve regular or one-off training sessions, which would increase the confidence of all employees as well as their skill sets.

It is clear that there are lots of strategies that you can take to get the most out of your older employees. All businesses should prioritise diversity awareness and take any necessary action to reduce the risk of discriminatory practices in the workplace. After all, happy, respected employees, make a happy, effective business.

This article, written by Jessica Corsi, was originally published on Edge Online at  https://www.i-l-m.com/Insight/Edge/2014/August/Looking-after-your-older-workers

The articles published on this website, current at the date of publication, are for reference purposes only. They do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your own circumstances should always be sought separately before taking any action.

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