How to support older employees: Preventing age discrimination at work

New research from Totaljobs has revealed that many workers aged over 50 are being deprived of career opportunities.


In the survey, conducted in partnership with recruitment firm Robert Walters, 72% of over 50s felt that their current employer was restricting their career growth.


About a third of workers will be over the age of 50 by 2020, while nearly a quarter of the UK population will be aged 65 or over within two decades.


With this being such a large demographic, it makes good business (and legal) sense for employers to embrace older workers’ experience and skills, and avoid inadvertently discriminating against them. Here are some tips on how to do so.


Encourage training

Training should be available for anyone who wants it without the implication that it is only for certain people, made available in a format accessible to all.


For example, interactive eLearning may be the preferred choice for younger employees. However, older employees may respond better to more traditional methods, such as printed slides. Try to make provisions to provide different formats.


Don’t assume that older employees won’t be interested in learning new skills. The survey found that of those who have had access to training, 90% have undertaken it, showing that those in their fifties are willing to learn when given the opportunity.


Promote flexible working

Research suggests women tend to be hardest hit by the lack of flexibility offered by companies for older workers, when many people over the age of 50 need to reduce their working hours to care for loved ones.


Employers can be proactive and embrace flexible working from management level downwards. This will show that working flexibly will be considered if requested.


Review your recruitment process

It can be surprisingly easy to accidentally discriminate during the recruitment process. Be careful with the words you use in job advertisements – don’t advertise for a “recent graduate” or for someone with “youthful enthusiasm” – simply state what the job requires.


Also be careful of where you advertise. For example, posting a job on social media alone could be considered discriminatory against older jobseekers due to the demographic of social media users being generally younger.


Introduce equality and anti-discrimination policies

Such policies should clearly state the organisation’s aim to provide a workplace where discrimination, bullying and harassment will not be tolerated and outline a commitment to adhering to the terms of the Equality Act 2010.


The policy should be communicated to all members of staff, so everyone is aware of what is and isn’t acceptable. Regular staff training will also educate both managers and employees on their roles and responsibilities in making the policy work effectively.


For more information about discrimination, training, flexible working or recruitment, contact a Deminos advisor on 020 7870 1090.

Author David Ralph

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