James Hill: UK businesses can reap the rewards of hiring from older generation

Older people can make great employees, Picture: PA
Older people can make great employees, Picture: PA
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According to the Office of National Statistics, the UK’s population is aging. By 2024, it is predicted that more than 24 per cent of people will be aged 65, up from 18 per cent in 2016.

This is due to several factors including people living longer, the transition of the post-Second World War baby boom generation into retirement and couples opting to have fewer children.

It’s important to recognise these changes, because people of working age pay the bulk of our country’s taxes, which support public spending and state pensions.

Whilst the number of pension-ers rises, so does the percentage of older people remaining in employment, which has doubled since 1998. Retirees can expect a lengthening retirement, with many continuing to work during that time; either due to an appetite for employment or because of financial shortfalls.

For lots of people, this can be a positive thing. Some are happy to keep working for as long as possible.

In the past, the over 55s would struggle to compete with the younger job applicants, but since The Equality Act in 2010 came into force, unfair treatment of UK employees has become outlawed and it is no longer compulsory to state your age on a CV.

However, ageism still exists and research has demonstrated that many job seekers feel they have been unfavourably discriminated against, whether through intent or subconscious bias. According to a recent survey by CV-Library, a third of professionals revealed that they have been turned down for a job because of their age. But far from being a hindrance, older generations should be seen as a precious resource for recruitment. Many recruitment companies now specialise in the placement of ageing employees, working effectively with employers that see the value that age, and experience can bring to the workplace. These companies include high-profile brands such as The Co-op and B&Q.

At Arrow Self Drive we’re proud that some of our employees are over 60 and we have found they are incredibly punctual, reliable, happy and confident to talk to customers. In our experience, our older workers are open and friendly which aligns superbly with our company values, because excellent customer service is central to our operations.

Employers have reported other benefits of employing older workers including wisdom, excellent work ethic, a lower rate of absenteeism and their ability to mentor younger generations.

One of Arrow Self Drive’s team members is 72-year-old Ian Taylor, who has been with us for more than four years. Affectionately known as ‘Laughing Larry’ due to his upbeat, positive and jovial personality, Ian has worked part time as a rental assistant in both our Wakefield and Barnsley depots.

Originally trained as a mechanical engineer, Ian has always enjoyed working and when he retired in 2011, aged 65, found that he quickly became frustrated and tired of playing golf every day.

After only three months of retirement, Ian found a job in merchandising for Coca-Cola before joining us where his many years’ experience is invaluable to our vehicle hire firm.

Our 71-year-old driver, Mick Foster, also provides our company with a wealth of knowledge in business development. Mick has worked at Arrow Self Drive since its inception more than 30 years ago and was a great inspiration to me when I began working in our sales department at 23 years old.

I learnt a lot from Mick including how to take a disciplined approach towards work and he remains a trusted and reliable colleague. It’s clear businesses can find dependable employees in older generations. Their unique skills and values can have potential cost savings for a company, making their overall contribution to a company extremely positive.

James Hill is the founder and managing partner of Arrow Self Drive