Why UK companies are looking to the over-50s to fill labor shortages

According to recent LinkedIn research, almost three-quarters of UK employers are turning to retirees to fill empty jobs.

It’s certainly a trend we’re seeing in some of the UK’s biggest employers, with companies like EasyJet, Halfords and McDonald’s recently announcing recruitment campaigns aimed at attracting a larger workforce.

But Guy Garnett, senior consultant at New Street Consulting Group, explains that after years of recruiting favoring younger generations and older workers being routinely overlooked, many may question what has changed.

Both Brexit and Covid-19 have had a dramatic impact on the UK job market. The end of free movement has meant that migrant workers from the EU no longer have an automatic right to work in the UK, leading to skills shortages across a wide range of industries.

In addition, the latest ONS research revealed that half a million more people are out of work due to long-term illness compared to pre-pandemic levels, with people aged 25-34 experiencing the steepest increase in illness over the years. long term.

So it comes as no surprise that UK employers are looking to retirees and over 50s to fill their recruitment gap. For those suffering the financial effects of the cost-of-living crisis or worried about economic instability during the recession, more job opportunities for those 50 and older will be a welcome relief. And from an employer’s perspective, an older workforce has a wealth of experience and varied skills that are invaluable to business.

While it’s great to see more companies making efforts to improve the inclusion of older workers, employers will need to be wary of unconscious biases during the hiring process, especially when looking to hire within a specific demographic.

Confirmation bias, for example, plays into preconceived notions a recruiter may have against an older worker and can stymie candidates before they’ve even attended an interview.

Similarly, employers will want to avoid any accidental similarity bias, where hiring managers unconsciously gravitate towards those who present themselves as similar to them. An example of this might be a younger manager who only hires graduates and passes over older applicants. This results in a less diverse and less inclusive work environment which ultimately hinders business growth.

To avoid this, make sure the language chosen within job descriptions is not coded to put off specific demographics from the start.

Interview processes should also be reviewed to ensure inclusion by asking all candidates the same questions and ranking them based on skill set rather than gut feeling.

Diversity and inclusion should be an important part of any company’s recruiting process, with studies showing that more diverse teams generate up to 19 percent more innovation revenue. And while ageism in the workplace has long been overlooked, this year’s push to hire former retirees is expected to spark future discussion about how to make workplaces more inclusive for all age groups.

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