Today’s over 50s are being unfairly overlooked for career coaching and developmental support. What should employers be doing to benefit from the skills, experience and dedication of this important group?
Around half of the UK adult population is now aged over 50, which has important implications for the workplace. Around a third of adults today believe they will still be working beyond the age of 65 – so today’s 50 year olds will be working for another 15 years or more.
Added to that is a competitive recruitment marketplace and widening skills shortages. Employers that recognise the potential in their mature employees are set to benefit in all kinds of ways.
It is widely recognised that embracing age diversity alongside gender, ethnicity and sexuality brings many benefits to the workplace. People who feel accepted at work perform better, and diverse teams are proven to be more productive and better at problem-solving.
Yet around 40% of people aged 50+ believe there is a lack of opportunity to progress at work, while 72% feel they are overlooked for promotion.
At the same time, more than 60% of mature workers want the chance to learn new skills.
Does your organisation actively offer training and coaching to its older employees?
It’s common for older workers to believe that they are no longer valued by their employer – with a survey finding that only 23% of over 55s feel appreciated by their company. The same research found that just 17% felt that they are listened to.
People that don’t feel valued at work are less productive and more likely to seek employment elsewhere – meaning that your organisation loses important skills and knowledge.
By offering career coaching for over 50s you will demonstrate your commitment to these employees, give them new skills and, in turn, more career opportunity.
Judith Wardell is the founder of Time of your Life, a coaching business specialising in mid and later life planning. She says: “Career coaching plays an important part in motivating, engaging and retaining older workers. I often meet people who have become disenchanted with their work. They feel undervalued and overlooked for development opportunities.”
Many organisations leave it to the individual to proactively develop their own career paths – but this only works if the employee feels supported to pursue their goals.
If older workers don’t feel valued, they will be wary of asking for over 50 careers counselling and training. Some may even feel that by requesting development they are highlighting their weaknesses or that they are unequipped to perform their job.
An important part of enabling your older workers to make the most of their careers is cultural. An inclusive, supportive culture will make it much easier for employees of all ages to talk to their managers about how they wish to develop their skills and knowledge.
Older workers often decide on a career change in middle age – but it’s not clear whether this is because they actively want a new direction or because they no longer feel comfortable in their current role.
If you want to embrace and retain age diversity in your organisation, there are three key things to consider as part of your approach:
Addressing these key points is an important step in the right direction. While today’s workforce recognise that a ‘job for life’ is no longer relevant, we should all be working to become employers for life.