- Talent Q research reveals older workers are more flexible and fulfilled
- Employers urged to harness potential of ageing workforce
New research has proved that older workers bring distinct benefits to the workplace and that UK employers are missing a trick by not exploiting latent talent within their ranks. With many reports* predicting that the retirement age will pushed up to age seventy within a generation, the findings offer employers helpful pointers about getting the very best out of older workers.
The research among 15,000 UK workers by Talent Q, a people assessment company that helps employers recruit and manage talent, reveals that mature workers are more likely to be flexible and easier to manage than their younger counterparts. The in-depth analysis of working styles showed that older workers are generally more willing to take on new tasks and accept more varied roles than their younger counterparts.
The findings will help guide employers as to what they can expect from an ageing workforce and how to harness its potential. Other positives included older workers being happier to work on their own and being more likely to volunteer to take a leading role, without the need for much guidance.
Workers over 50 were generally found to have a high level of social confidence and an greater preference to build successful and supportive working relationships with colleagues, clients and suppliers.
In intelligence terms, assessments revealed that older workers’ verbal reasoning was the same as their younger colleagues and while they take marginally longer to calculate answers to numerical problems, they are equally able.
Those in their fifties and sixties are also much less achievement-orientated than their younger colleagues, indicating that they have either fulfilled their ambitions, realised their limitations or are happy with their lot in life. All of which makes for more methodical, conscientious and relaxed workers who are also likely to be willing to take on tasks that might quickly bore more thrusting youngsters.
Steve O’Dell, chief executive of Talent Q, said: “Our study defies the common stereotype of older workers who are unwilling to accommodate change and may therefore be unresponsive to new challenges presented in the workplace.
“Talent Q found that those of more advanced years are less preoccupied about climbing the career ladder and that they tend to be more happy, fulfilled and confident. As a result, they are glad to take on new work or projects, and aren’t unduly phased by lots of changes. They tend to plough on regardless – a fact that employers are quickly discovering can be a real benefit to their business.”
“How to manage an ageing workforce is set to be a key challenge facing Leaders in the coming years, but by understanding what motivates workers in their fifties and sixties, employers can turn it to their advantage. They could use these findings to help build well-balanced, effective teams.”
*National Institute for Economic and Social Research think-tank.
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