A year-long study by BMW has proved that older workers are more productive than younger ones and the management consulting group, Accenture, has reported that older teams of workers have lower levels of staff turnover and absenteeism.
Yet, in spite of mounting evidence that growth-minded companies should employ more older workers to increase productivity and lower costs, research by the over 50s recruiter SkilledPeople.com found that 80% of job hunters aged over 50 had experienced age discrimination when applying for new jobs.
The evidence from BMW is compelling. It conducted its study after realising that the average age at a power-train plant in Bavaria would rise from 39 to 47 by 2017. It staffed one production line with workers with an average age of 47. After one year it found that this line’s productivity had risen by 7% and absenteeism had fallen from 7% to 2%.
Further evidence of the value of older workers comes from Accenture which says that a number of companies have staffed parts of their organisation with older teams. They found that staff turnover was lower, absenteeism was down and customers were well-serviced.
SkilledPeople.com works on social enterprise lines to help small businesses hire quality people with at least 25 years’ experience and keep people aged over 50 economically active. But it reports that high levels of ‘under the table’ age discrimination is harming both the growth potential of small firms and work prospects for the over 50s.
Keith Simpson, managing director of SkilledPeople.com, says that demographic changes will force employers to become more enlightened as a third of the workforce will be aged over 50 by 2020.
“Far sighted employers should be cherry-picking the best over 50s now as an insurance policy for the future. These people need less training, are more reliable and less money-motivated. Our research among 750 older jobseekers found that 65% would work for expenses only to prove their worth with an employer,” he says.
The January 2013 Labour Force Survey figures from the Office for National Statistics show that there are 396,000 over 50s registered as unemployed within which 188,000 have been unemployed for over 12 months. However, these figures conceal the fact that there are 3.4M people aged 50 to 64 who have become economically inactive. Many of these people, who have extensive experience and skills, opt to live within their means rather than register for benefits.