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Age is nothing but a number

5 years ago by Craig Bell

Why do I keep hearing that the older generation struggle to get jobs?

I often hear of people in their 50s and 60s struggling to find employment and to be quite honest, I don’t understand why this is the case. Is it that employers believe they will take more time off work due to ill health? Do they assume the older generation aren’t as computer literate and therefore less productive? Or do they believe the investment isn’t worth the shorter return before retirement?

I believe that as our workforce gets older people want to work longer, and therefore age shouldn’t be the barrier to employment that it often is.

Within Bell Group our older employees bring years of skills, experience and emotional maturity, all of which deliver huge value to our company. Yes it’s true that some aren’t as tech savvy as our younger employees, however some are and I believe IT literacy is something that can be taught or supported through healthy business support or admin functions. You cannot however teach maturity or experience; which is why I struggle to understand these antiquated views.

What do I think the Older Generation bring to companies?

Employing an older team member is something I’ve always championed. Our older staff still use traditional methods of working, skills and methods that are slowly being lost; they are keen to pass on their knowledge to colleagues; and I find, they take time to share their skills.

I believe there is an eagerness to work, because they choose to be there, free from the financial and other burdens of younger employees – this is a refreshing addition to any workforce.

Statistics show the over 50’s outperforming younger workers in almost every category from length of service through to accidents statistics. There are also many studies demonstrating that the over 50’s are far more loyal to tech once they embrace it, dispelling the myth of being unable to ‘teach an old dog new tricks’! I have witnessed this first hand in our site teams who are all productivity targeted and once again the over 50’s come up trumps.

Hiring what I believe to be the best Contract Manager I have ever met

I met with Contract Manager, Dick Grady, as part of a TUPE transfer consultation and wondered why I couldn’t see his name on the TUPE list that followed. To cut a long story short, I learnt that Dick’s current employer had informed him he would not be transferring to us due to his imminent 65th Birthday and subsequent retirement. I spoke with Dick about his decision and quickly established his reason for retirement was led by his previous employer and because at 65 ‘that’s what you do!’

I left my business card with Dick and briefly touched upon a vacancy close to his home.  A week later I received a phone call from Dick and after a short meeting I hired him. Dick was a manager’s dream, his project delivery was second to none; the relationships he had with his workforce and suppliers were enviable and financially his projects were amongst the best in the group.

Dick created a knowledgeable workforce who were motivated and wanted to work for him. He didn’t suffer fools, and recognised the negative impact one bad member could have on a team. He was open, honest and recognised his own weaknesses. He communicated effectively with his clients, to establish their needs; his workforce, to establish their problems and management to ensure he was working in line with our expectations and targets.

To this day I can quite honestly say that Dick was the best Contract Manager I have ever employed, or had the opportunity to work with. At no point in this process did I think about his age. Dick is just one of many older workers who have had a positive impact on our business over the years, all of whom have formed my strong opinion about the value older employees can bring to a company given the chance.

Do you have any success stories you could share of employing older members of your workforce? I look forward to hearing them.

Craig Bell, CEO