Are SMEs putting themselves at risk by not recruiting mature workers?

Small businesses could be missing out on the skills and experience of older workers, if the latest findings from the CIPD are to be believed.


They discovered that nearly half of small businesses have no activities in place relating to the recruitment of mature workers.


This could potentially put their chances of expanding at risk given the changing nature of the UK workforce, which is becoming more age-diverse.


Almost nine in ten SMEs said they recognised the valuable contribution from older workers, but 60% said they had not recruited one.


According to the CIPD report, many smaller businesses were not going far enough to ensure they had a similar level of access to the mature workforce as larger companies.


Following the abolition of the default retirement age in 2011, only 5% of the UK workforce is represented by those over the age of 65.


This is despite the UK being home to an aging population, while many mature workers have experience and skill-sets that could be widely beneficial to some of these businesses.


Speaking to the big decision-makers


The report – ‘Age diversity in SMEs: reaping the benefits’ – surveyed senior decision-makers from firms across the UK.


A number of benefits to having older workers were identified, including improved knowledge-sharing, better problem-solving and enhanced customer service techniques.


The first two factors can be incredibly influential on a firm’s ability to come up with ideas and products that can break down barriers in the market place.


This can be important in the long-run, as the financial success that can accompany such ideas can ease the pressures placed on some small businesses.


As a result, businesses are more able to cope should they be threatened with company administration or some other sort of financial issue.


However, those surveyed listed concerns over age stereotyping, a lack of shared interests and misunderstandings as being barriers to potential employment of mature workers.


Concerns also existed that suggested younger managers may struggle to manage older workers, which put people off hiring them.


Despite this, the positive outcomes that come from having an age-diverse workforce far outweigh the negatives, so SMEs could be missing out should they not approach the older generations of workers.


By Phil Smith


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