The UK has been facing shortages of workers for some time, and this is considered one of the greatest issues for the country’s economy at present. The number of businesses reporting that they do not have sufficient people for roles has mostly satbetween 12.9% and 15.4% since October 2021. Employers tend to agree that finding people to fill open roles is much harder than it was five years ago.
There are a number of reasons why the UK is experiencing this shortage of workers. A House of Lords report from 2022 shows that people are retiring earlier since the start of the pandemic has been one of the biggest drivers of economic inactivity in the UK workforce. One of the underlying factors driving this was the number of people made redundant during the pandemic. In total, three in ten retired, and of those, 48% were 60 to 65 years of age, while 33% were 55 to 59 years old and 9% were 50 to 54 years old.
The evidence from the House of Lords report suggests that most of those that have left the workforce have sufficient resources to do so, on average. Yet there is a concern that some that have left the workforce early may need more resources to last them through the rest of their lifespan. With this, some individuals will likely return to work at some stage. Some may find that they need to return due to rising costs due to inflation. Others may want to return to work to have a greater sense of purpose, or to socialise with others, and find that flexible jobs allow them to do this.
Encouraging Older Generations Back to Work: The Policy Environment
In the Budget in March 2023, the Chancellor introduced some measures to remove barriers to work for people of any age, but there was a particular focus on those aged 50 and over. Over the next five years, the Department for Work and Pensions will receive £70 million to invest in support for the over-50s to get them back into the workplace.
There are two main areas of focus for encouraging ageing people back to work. One is that funds will be spent in a new digital mid-life MOT check. This aims to help ageing workers assess their current employment choices in the longer term. The goal is to help 40,000 people a year with this programme. The second is that there will be a Sector-based Work Academy Programme (SWAP) as well as Train and Progress, and a new programme called “Returnerships.” These areas of focus will work on increasing skills and improving access to training to help people return to work.
Getting ageing people back to work has traditionally been a challenge. The Resolution Foundationhighlighted that people who made the decision to retire early during the summer of 2020 during the pandemic have now been out of the workplace for two-and-a-half years. As this organisation points out, “Historically, just 1 in 50 people in this situation return to work every three months.” However, the policy focus is likely to continue to be on getting ageing people back into work, given that there are more people at an older age than there have ever been. In addition, the number of those aged 65 and above is set to increase by 2.5 million in the current decade to 2030.
Targeting Multiple Generations – Employer Branding and Messaging
To fill the gaps, companies should consider targeting those ageing workers who are wooed back to work by UK Government policies. Doing so requires an understanding of how to attract different generations. This means understanding what older people are looking for at work.
In targeting ageing generations, highlighting positive work-life balance is important. Also, research suggests that ageing generations want work that is age-inclusive, but more than that, they also want to be intellectually stimulated and find their work personally meaningful. Ageing generations sometimes want to share their experience and knowledge, so it may be worth promoting how they can contribute to the organization's growth. Also, older people value autonomy, self-improvement, and clarity.
With these factors in mind, recruitment messaging can be shaped to speak to the older candidate. The Institute for Employment Studies suggests focusing on the inclusive nature of the company culture, and demonstrating the benefits that older employees may gain. Examples include helping them develop IT skills or build on these and highlighting career development possibilities. If there is any inkling of age discrimination in these areas, older employees may look elsewhere.
Employer Branding Strategies
Employer branding is integral to getting this right. It is crucial to present a strong and inclusive employer brand that helps older people feel welcome and can help add value to the company’s reputation. When done well, the employer brand helps increase authenticity and build trust. Leveraging the brand can help to communicate the company's values, culture, and benefits, attract and retain top talent, and stand out from the competition – which can be important factors for ageing job seekers when making employment decisions.
Demonstrating inclusivity can be about more than just what the career site says. It can also be evidenced in the imagery or videos on the site. For example, posting pictures that show older people working in teams, or profiling older people as case studies on the careers site could be beneficial. Look beyond the words to see what the site is actually saying about how inclusive the team is.
Tip: It may be worth having members of these generations provide feedback on the careers site. This can help hiring professionals to understand what is needed to attract the target demographic.
Content and Advertising for Attracting Ageing Generations
Companies also need to consider how effective their advertising is when targeting ageing generations. In advertising, theCentre for Ageing Better suggests actively highlighting that the company “welcomes applications from a diverse range of people, including those of different ages.”
Thinking about wording in job titles and descriptions that may attract or put off ageing workers is helpful. For example, the word “energetic” may be perceived negatively by some candidates, as might “fast-paced.” These may be seen to be targeting younger people, perceived as age biased, and might lead to older people not applying. So it’s essential to review content to ensure it is not excluding any workers, and use the content to speak to the demographic the company is trying to target.
Making job postings in relevant places is also key to attracting ageing candidates. For example, evidence suggests that older people are less likely to be on TikTok and more likely to be on Facebook and YouTube. That’s not to say that ageing candidates will not be found on platforms more frequented by younger people, just that a greater proportion of older people may be found on other platforms.
It’s essential to meet candidates where they are and understand where they can be found. With this, companies can concentrate the majority of their advertising on that particular space and attract top talent.
Also, it’s a great idea to leverage a mix of online and offline strategies. More traditional advertising methods may be better for reaching ageing candidates, such as print advertising and radio, given that some in this group may not use digital platforms as much as younger generations.
Backing It Up With Analytics
Don’t forget to keep an eye on the analytics. Examining the age profile of candidates can provide helpful insight as to whether the messaging and advertising are cutting through and attracting an older crowd. Examining the analytics can be beneficial to pinpoint any possible age discrimination at the organisation and help hiring professionals make more informed and strategic hiring decisions. This ultimately results in better hires and provides necessary insights to show where to focus efforts to adjust strategies and create meaningful change.
Overall, metrics help measure the effectiveness of attracting ageing candidates and help the company continually improve their inclusive hiring practices.
Adjusting recruitment strategies to attract the ageing generation is becoming increasingly important as this demographic continues to grow in the workforce. By implementing the strategies above, companies can attract top talent and improve employee retention, engagement, and their bottom line.
If you’re looking for help on your generational recruitment strategy, the team at Recruitics is equipped to work insightfully to meet your challenges and exceed your goals. Our industry leading iON platform helps us target top candidates and we leverage real-time data to collaborate on a world-class strategy.