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Employing the 50+: business benefits

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The business benefits of 50+ recruits

Many employers value their existing older employees because they know them and appreciate what they bring to the organisation. However. this positive attitude is often not reflected in their recruitment practices. They may have younger candidates in mind or have concerns about the health and productivity of older workers they don’t know.

You may wish to raise the following points in your discussions about employing the over-50s.

Strengths older workers bring to the workplace

  • Reliability, loyalty, motivation
  • Dedication, punctuality, flexibility
  • Skills, knowledge, experience
  • Maturity, confidence
  • Organisational skills
  • Communication skills
  • Empathy, good customer relations
  • Mentoring, knowledge transfer

Benefits to the bottom line

Reduced staff turnover, recruitment and training costs

  • Nationwide reports their annual turnover is four per cent for older staff compared with 10 per cent for younger workers, with recruits in their 50s and 60s staying for an average of 13 years.
  • In a survey of 70 UK businesses by NIACE/CROW, employers reported that by employing older workers they made significant savings in recruitment and training costs

Less short-term sickness absence

  • Some older workers have chronic health conditions but they generally have fewer short- term absences than their younger counterparts. For example, B&Q report that absenteeism generally is 39 per cent lower among their older workers.


  • Greater accuracy and accumulated knowledge and experience.

Case study: business benefits (Domestic and General Services)

Domestic and General Call Centre, Nottingham

The call centre industry employing large numbers of mainly younger workers suffers from high staff turnover. At the Domestic and General call centre in Nottingham, the largest specialist provider of service contracts on domestic electrical equipment in the country, HR Manager Tracy Burrell describes how the business benefits of an older workforce in an industry typically seen as an employer of young people encourage the company to adopt proactive age management methods.

"The challenge was to increase staff diversity and attract and retain higher numbers of older workers who bring experience, loyalty and reliability. A range of strategies have been employed to ensure recruitment is age-positive including designing recruitment material for older as well as younger workers through the use of song titles as strap lines such as, ‘Baby it's cold outside', or ‘Talking about my generation.'

"We have also been using age ambassadors at recruitment fairs, briefing temp agencies to meet and beat a 10 per cent target of mature workers and we use telephone interviews at the first stage of selection to avoid age bias. We also have confidence boosting induction training and we try to build the confidence of all workers and give support prior to them being involved in call handling. Flexible working patterns include term time working and flexible hours while a range of contract types include arrangements that are suitable for people with changing career expectations and caring responsibilities."

"The benefits to the company include an increase in empathy towards our customers (many of whom may be older people themselves, phoning in with problems about their domestic appliances). We find that older workers bring a positive work ethic and are loyal. This impacts on staff attendance and retention figures. Moreover, they have a positive influence on younger staff members.

Source: Age Matters in a Downturn published by the Employers Forum on Age and TAEN 2009

Demographic change

By 2020 there will be many more people in their 50s and fewer people in their 40s

The over-50s are going to have to make a big contribution to filling job vacancies and responding to jobs growth in the next decade

This chart shows the projected UK population changes between 2010 and 2020

This chart shows the projected UK population changes between 2010 and 2020

This site is for help and information only. It is not meant as an authoritative guide. It is not meant as an authoritative statement of the law, and future changes in the law and other programmes and initiatives could make it less accurate at times. TAEN, the Department for Work and Pensions and the European Social Fund take no responsibility for your use of the information. You should always take professional advice on any specific legal or financial matter.