Five top tips for hiring an older worker

feature-older-workers-thumbIf you haven’t considered hiring an older worker to your start-up, it may be worth switching your mindset.


Not only is the power of the “grey dollar” growing, but an ageing population is making it harder for businesses to get all the skills they need from a youthful, ambitious workforce.


In a bid to break down barriers, the Federal Government announced last week that it is to offer a $1,000 bonus to 10,000 employers who recruit and retain a worker aged 50 years or over for more than three months.


Sophie Macdonald, co-founder of Queensland HR firm Skye Recruitment, says that older workers can bring multiple benefits to a start-up.


“I believe in a meritocracy and hiring based on the best available skills, but there are certainly many things that an older employee can offer that many businesses don’t consider,” she says.


“They bring a stabilising influence and experience to a workplace but also, more importantly, they bring an understanding of other workplaces and cultures.”


“A less experienced employee may not realise how good or bad their employer is as they haven’t got much to compare it with. But older workers understand what makes a good workplace and bring enjoyment and passion for their industry to a business. That has to be a good thing for any employer.”


So, how should you go about recruiting an older worker? Here are five top tips:



1. Think flexibly


If you are thinking of hiring an older worker, don’t automatically assume that you should employ them on the standard nine to five, five days a week, permanent basis.


“If you bring in an older worker, consider using them as a pinch hitter, rather than just another employee,” advises HRanywhere founder Martin Nally.


“Older workers won’t necessarily want to work full-time and they have other interests in their lives rather than just building their careers. Give them a well-defined role on a flexible basis and they will add value.”


“We are in a new world of work. If you try to employ an older worker on a full-time basis, they made resist it. Be judicious with your flexibility and think of bringing them in for certain clearly-defined projects, rather than as a full-timer.”



2. Communicate their role clearly


If you’re running a new business, it’s likely that you have a small team who hope to rapidly progress their careers as your company grows.


Bringing in an older, more experienced people may cause ructions if you’re not careful.


“If you’re not careful, you can demotivate your team,” says Nally. “If you have people who are looking to step up in their careers, they may feel gazumped and you may lose talent.”


“I’ve worked with a business where an experienced worker has come in from a competitor and the staff felt threatened. They had to sit them down and say that his role was to advise and be a mentor – he wasn’t after their jobs.”


“Be open and transparent about the new worker’s role. Set out to your staff that they won’t be at the company in the long-term, but they will be a useful mentor and experienced head who will guide you through a certain project or period in your business’ life.”




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