How old is old when it comes to employees?

by Human Capital28 May 2014
Are you subconsciously allowing ageism to colour your view of employees?

The Telegraph reported that according to an international survey of HR directors and executives, there is a “silent tipping point” at which employees are seen to have less value or be less attractive to the organisation.

When asked at what age this tipping point occurs, more than half of the HR directors said 50 years old, while more than a third said 60.

Of the executives, about 41% said the tipping point was 50, while 46% said it was 60.

The survey was carried out by professional services company KPMG and associate partner David Knight told the Telegraph that despite legislation banning age-based discrimination, it was still alive and well in the workplace.

“It seems that organisations still have to rethink their attitude towards the older employee, learning to appreciate just how productive they can be. Some of the findings are born out of reality and some out of perception, but it’s terribly generalistic to say the old are not good and the young are.”

According to the Australian Department of Employment website, those aged 45 and above are considered mature-age workers and the recent budget announcement unveiled an incentive for employers, who will be paid up to $10,000 over two years if they hire eligible workers aged 50 and older.

Website owner and managing director Heidi Holmes told HC Online that HR leaders and recruiters needed to educate employers about the benefits of hiring mature-age workers.

She said the workers added value to an organisation in terms of life experience, adaptability and loyalty.

“They are shown through statistics to stay with their employer for two and a half times longer than someone under the age of 30.”

Related articles:

Government to pay business to hire mature workers
Youth employment: are you inadvertently ageist?



  • by Mary 28/05/2014 1:43:08 PM

    I know many people aged 50 and above having great diffiuclty to secure employment in WA. After many year of sending out 100s of applicants and attending many interviews they finally gave up. There are no centrelink benefits for most all the men as their wives work and even though the wives don't earn big bucks they are still not entitled to any benefits or consession or any sort of assistance. It is a shame that the employment stats produced by the government is far from accurate as these catergory of unemployed people are not accounted for and it is like they do not exists at all.

  • by Sylvia 28/05/2014 2:47:54 PM

    Age discrimination is very much alive in Australia, and it's not going to go away any time soon. If the Human Rights Commission and the Government think otherwise, they've lost tough with reality.

    What I'd like to know is why we have this horrendous WGEA (gender equality) report to submit every year. Whatever happened to the "merit system"? Plus there are all sort of standards imposed on employers, but not once do they touch upon age. Why isn't age reported on? We are never asked if we give any consideration to mature workers. I discussed the age discrimination issue with someone at the WGEA, and they told me they don't "handle" age issues. Wow! That's great, considering the government is now out to make everyone work till 70! Too bad if these people are sick and/or have special needs. No one seems to have thought this out either.

    As a HR professional with almost 30 years' experience in the field, I've seen age discrimination get worse in the last 15 or so years. I'm 52 years old and I'm lucky to have a job (only because I've worked with my present boss in another company when I was much younger, and he gave me the opportunity to get my present role). I suffer from chronic health issues and need a lot of flexibility--somehow, I don't think a new employer would understand this. Not only that, even before I developed my current condition, I didn't even make it to interviews once I was past the age of 40! Very sad considering the amount of experience I have.

  • by Ann-Marie 28/05/2014 4:18:41 PM

    My personal view is that age is a number, but attitude is what ages a candidate.
    A 50+ year old who has kept up to date with changes in their field, is open in their thinking, keen to learn and has a positive outlook is a very attractive candidate to me.
    However, if a candidate presents at interview negatively, as a victim or with a 'woe is me' attitude, they won't get though. Any of the more mature candidates I have dealt with are either progressed or eliminated based on their attitude and ability. One of the longest interviews I have ever sat through was an older candidate who was made redundant from his job after 30 years and spent the whole time sledging his last employer, the outplacement service and two other companies who interviewed him, but didn't give him the job.

    Two successfully appointed candidates in the mature group who immediately come to mind have been extremely positive, reliable and valuable employees.

Most Read