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Benefits to an ageing population in the workplace

Posted on 20/01/2017 by


Many near and over retirement age simply don’t want to retire – they feel they still have a lot to contribute, having already achieved their career aspirations, paid off their mortgage and are now seeking a role that can offer security and the opportunity to give something back. Salary expectations and career progression are therefore both way down the list of priorities for baby boomers and this can be good news for employers, especially within the not for profit sector.

So why are so many interview panels turned off by our more mature comrades? In this month’s blog we look at the challenges faced by older workers and how and why the not for profit sector should lead the change.

Times have changed, with giant leaps in the medical world over the past 30 years the ageing process has slowed down, enabling us to live longer, and healthier lives. But we are all fooling ourselves if we assume these giant leaps have translated to the working world, as hiring managers can still have a limited perspective when considering employing from this revitalised demographic.

In our experience when employers receive CVs from more experienced candidates, they tend to be enthusiastic at first….

“We think he looks great- this is an urgent role, someone who can hit the ground running is just what we need!”

“We would love to see her; she has excellent knowledge in this area which is what we are lacking”

The candidate meets the managers at interview, is excited about the new role, can see how they can make an impact, then the feedback comes….

“John Smith had a really strong interview - definitely knows his sector and would be a great fit in the team, however he is too experienced and we won’t be offering him the role.”

So why do employers not offer someone the position they would be perfect for just because they can do it expertly?

It could be down to concerns around someone with experience using the position as a stop gap and soon they will get bored and move on. Or is it perhaps that the manager may not like the idea of someone with more experience than them reporting into them and questioning their methods?

From our observations, the demographic in question have more energy and vigour than they’re given credit for. They can work with equal efficiency than that of their younger counterparts and they can happily take instructions from senior colleagues who are half their age.

Studies have shown that this demographic are naturally interested in trying something different from what they’ve done before and current senior executives may soon be seeking a less demanding role in the very near future. The NFP sector should be poised to take advantage of potential senior executives from the private sector looking for a more fulfilling role. These candidates may be older, but they are just as able to offer a fresh perspective as a graduate.

Some candidates are not looking for a role with more responsibility and enjoy being in a more “hands on” position. Others love the idea of working for certain organisations, and due to the fact that roles rarely arise in these companies they are keen to seize on opportunities when they do. This is particularly true in the voluntary sector, where an employer’s mission is a huge motivating factor for its employees.

Some are looking for more than just a title, position and salary - they want the work-life balance certain roles and organisations provide, as well as the chance to be involved in areas they enjoy the most but they have worked their way out of in their previous role. Retention is usually excellent among these kind of candidates and they are genuinely committed to the long term.

Taking on someone with “too much experience” could still bring fresh ideas to an organisation without causing conflict - experience can bring empathy and tact, as well as the first-hand knowledge gained from their previous roles.

Therefore when you are thinking that someone is ideal for a role but may be too experienced for the position, why not ask in more detail why they are interested in this position? Be brave and be honest, put to them your concerns over their experience and what issues this may present to you and your organisation and let them explain their reasons behind applying for this role.

Similarly, if you are ever interviewing for a role that you know maybe seen as a step down for you, it is important to acknowledge this and explain why the position and organisation has appealed to you and why your experience can be a benefit rather than an issue.

This rapidly growing demographic can no longer be pigeon holed as tired old fossils – did you not know… 60 is the new 30 and the previous “oldies” are now spritely and youthful - enthusiastic and active - buoyant and full of life.

At TPP we offer a variety of seminars and recruitment advice to help you successfully manage your team and recruit the right candidates. Contact us on 020 7198 6000 or