Older workers are perceived as the most talented and employable of all underrepresented demographic groups in the workforce, according to a new CIPD survey of more than 2,000 HR managers and line managers – with disabled people and migrant workers also scoring highly.
The Attitudes to employability and talent report, which explored views towards employability, saw workers aged over 55 scoring an average of 6.93 out of 10 when ranked on the attributes used to describe a talented employee.
They were seen as having a more positive attitude to work, but lower potential to develop, compared with young people (who scored 5.6 overall). Older employees were also rated the highest on their ability to hit the ground running, levels of relevant experience and skills, and being highly networked and connected.
Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD, said the results would confirm what many employers already know: “There is quite a lot of data from companies like B&Q that have managed to show a significant return on investment by employing older people, in terms of the quality of customer service they can offer. The accumulated experience and skills of older workers is extremely valuable.
“The insight that comes from this report is that employers really need to invest in supporting and managing their workforce so that it is age-diverse and provides flexible working, supports individuals’ wellbeing and invests in training and development at all stages of an employee’s career – not just when they enter the workforce,” said Willmott. “People need to be upskilled and reskilled, as we are in a situation where people are working much longer.”
The benefits of multigenerational workplaces are widely documented. A recent study from fast food giant McDonald’s of 32,000 employees found that age-diverse teams were an average of 10 per cent happier than those working solely with their peer group.
Individuals with disabilities came a close second in the CIPD findings, scoring 6.29, followed by migrant workers (6.15) and parents (6.06). Migrant workers were ranked particularly highly for easily adapting to working conditions, while employers thought individuals with disabilities were good at bringing new and innovative ideas.
“The scores on individuals with disabilities suggest that some employers are missing a trick,” added Willmott. “We know that employers with experience of employing people with disabilities are extremely positive, and that very much comes out in the survey data. Ensuring that organisations are inclusive and adaptable is a win-win both in terms of the ethical importance of being inclusive, and from a business perspective.”
The long-term unemployed and ex-service people scored 5.18, and ex-offenders came last among the eight demographic groups in the study, with 4.93. All three groups ranked in the bottom three when it came to reliability, work ethic and being able to adapt to the working environment.
The report also found businesses that employed migrant workers recorded a 1.2-point increase in their perceptions of this group – a greater uplift than any other demographic group. This indicates that the gap between the perception of migrants and the reality of actually employing them is more significant than among any other group.
Sophie-Marie Odum , Personnel Manager 8 Sep 2016