Brand Your Business as Mature-Friendly

Brand Your Business as Mature-Friendly

Ignoring the pool of older workers can be a mistake for businesses, particularly amid concerns about a shrinking labour force and the greying of Canada as the baby boomer bubble works its way through the population.

Stay Focused on the Law

lores_businessman_blindfold_suit_mbTake steps to ensure that your business is age-neutral and does not discriminate against older people in itsrecruitment process.

To help avoid being contacted by the  Human Rights Commission, err on the side of caution and steer clear of:

Direct or indirect statements or questions relating to age in job adsor applications.

Interview questions relating to age unless:

  • The job is aimed specifically at persons 65 years of age or older;
  • You run a special interest group serving a particular age bracket;
  • Age is a bona fide job requirement; or
  • You need to know a person’s age to determine eligibility for a special program to promote age equality.

Suggestions that your company needs to “rejuvenate” its work force or comments when evaluating candidates that refer to adaptability, the ability to be trained based on age, or concerns that it will cost to much to train a person because of age.

Patterns that show a preference for hiring younger workers, such as hiring a significantly younger candidate over an older one with equal qualifications.

With rare exceptions, work-related actions based solely on age are discriminatory and violate theCharter of Rights and Freedoms, the Human Rights Act and provincial and territorial statutes.

Employers are concerned that the country is on the verge of a major labour force shortage in the years ahead. Canada is already experiencing skill shortages in key sectors such as manufacturing, construction, information technology, health care, financial services and government.

Already some small and large organizations are experiencing shortages of skilled labour and a large majority expect the situation to become more pronounced.

If your business is planning to hire, it could benefit by bringing older, experienced workers on board. Those workers may have skills and education that make them competitive in the job market, and they are likely to add significant benefits to your business, including:

Increased creativity: Intellectual and creative capacities often grow with age. For example, musicians show increased ability until they reach their mid-60s and their skills don’t start to decline until they are 85 or older.

Loyalty: Older workers aren’t usually obsessed with advancing their careers, so they have a strong sense of loyalty that translates into less job-hopping and turnover.

Strong work ethic: The workplace provides opportunities for mature employees to be active and socialize. That means they may accept jobs that younger workers refuse. And because older employees tend to be more content with their jobs and their lives, they can often be easier to work with and supervise.

Lower absenteeism: As employees age, they tend to take fewer days off.

Strong role models: Younger people may pick up a sense of responsibility and diligence from their older colleagues, although there may be some tension between the generations.

Comparable productivity: Generally, older and younger staff members compare equally well when it comes to output.

With that in mind, your company might want to consider some creative strategies to help attract older employees or retain those already on your payroll. The following suggestions are some best practices your business could adopt to help achieve that goal:

1. State in job advertisements that your business looks for employees with maturity, good judgment and work experience.

2. Have a self-nomination process for career movement. Encourage mature employees to seek advancement and special assignments. Also, encourage managers to seek out opportunities for older workers as part of annual performance reviews.

3. Discuss ways to assess and redesign jobs for employees with special needs.

4. Educate managers and supervisors on age discrimination laws, age-neutral performance appraisals and the benefits of hiring and promoting older employees.

5. Train staff from managers down about how to recognize and avoid age stereotypes.

6. Provide flexible training opportunities such as mentoring programs, job rotation and on-the-job coaching, as well as peer and individualized training.

7. Offer phased retirement options. For example, allow employees to collect their full retirement benefits while continuing to work part-time or reduced hours. Another possibility is to let long-tenured and older employees stagger or reduce their work hours, even to part-time or per-diem status, while retaining benefits that generally are not available to part-time employees.

8. Rehire retirees as temporary and replacement employees. Provide retirees with re-entry training and flexible schedules.

9. Establish pools of retirees who can be called in times of increased labor demand.

10. Partner with local educational institutions. Bring classrooms into the workplace to make it convenient for employees to receive training and upgrade their skills.

11. Encourage employees to continue learning and improving, but hold them accountable for upgrading their knowledge and skills throughout their careers.

12. Offer alternatives to full-time employment. Set up job-sharing and other programs for employees who want to work fewer hours. With job sharing, employees who want a reduced work load can share the same job. Your business can also consider offering temporary or seasonal work, and hire mature, experienced individuals as consultants.

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