Is HR overlooking the benefits of ageing workers?

Companies can be very quick to say if you're over 50 and don't have the right skill set then it's time to go

Is HR overlooking the benefits of ageing workers?

Far from being a drain on the bottom line, older workers can be one of a company’s most valuable assets, according to Career Life Transitions’ Peter James.

James added that companies can be very quick to say if you’re over 50 and don’t have the right skill set then it’s time to go.

“But often it would be much smarter and socially responsible to work with older workers to help them review their careers and consider more viable options,” he said

This could include retraining people on site or even sending them to vocational training to pick up the skills the business needs.

“These are options that can save companies hundreds of thousands of dollars by the time you take into account redundancy packages, exit fees, advertising and rehiring costs,” said James.

“Businesses can be too fast to ‘pull the trigger’ on ageing workers based on assumptions that the older worker can’t or won’t learn new skills.”

He added that employers should be taking a more inclusive approach to solving the aging workforce issues by considering the problem now and “planning for the inevitable”.

“People don’t want to feel their position is compromised and they’re being pushed out the door as they near retirement age,” he said.

“A better way to manage it is with a comprehensive succession plan in place that starts years before someone is due to retire, so they can be training and mentoring someone else with their skills and expertise.

“This can be a win-win as the older worker feels valued and respected and the knowledge they’ve gathered from years with the company is passed along rather than walking out the door with them.”

James said companies should consider the following;

  • A succession plan; organisations need to look at what skills and roles they’ll need in the future as their employees reach retirement age, the earlier this is done the better to provide security for the worker and the company.
  • Develop a mentoring program; this is key in getting older workers to share their skills and knowledge with their younger colleagues and it can also show that the respect for the more experienced employee.
  • Training Programs; The saying you can’t teach an old dog new tricks shouldn’t apply, look at older workers skills and look at re-training in areas they are lacking – it will be cheaper than starting again.


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