chris-roebuckBusinesses risk facing a significant skills gap, says new research, with up to 50 per cent of senior managers in some public organisations able to leave their jobs within the next 5 years if they wanted. The study, by leading independent HR advisor, Chris Roebuck, shows that older workers perform better than younger workers in terms of focus and determination, are more motivated to succeed, take a longer view of events, and often have better communications skills.

Says Chris Roebuck, “Age is an indicator of years spent gaining valuable experience – not a sell by date. This isn’t to say that organisations don’t have good younger talent they need to nurture and encourage, and the talents of older workers have been recognised by some employers, but with a significantly aging population, we could face a real skills shortage as this generation retires or takes early retirement. In the next ten years 25 per cent of the UK workforce will be over 50. Companies need to act now to make sure that when they eventually leave, there is an effective transfer of experience between these older employees and their younger colleagues. If not, companies could face major management challenges due to the loss of skills these workers possess.”

Roebuck, who last year was asked to launch a national initiative for older workers in Denmark by the Danish Age Association, with the support of the Danish Employers and Danish Government, outlines a number of key things firms need to do now to counter this gap. These include: reviewing talent pools and creating a skills and experience database; using older workers to deliver better quality of service to important older customers; minimise the loss of older intellectual assets by phased retirement and part-time working to help with the transfer of knowledge; the balanced recruitment of new
workers with the return of retirees; and ensuring they have a flexible working and long term learning strategy in place.

Says Roebuck: “By taking these key steps now, companies can ensure that they do not face continuity problems in the future, and that key skills and knowledge does not leave the company the instant those older workers walk out of the office for the final time.”

Former global head of talent management and development at UBS, Chris Roebuck advises a wide range of clients in both public and private sectors on maximising performance through people. His work at UBS contributed to the bank being Best Company for Leaders in 2005 and is a Harvard Business School case study. He has held senior HR positions with London Underground and KPMG, and implemented talent and leadership programmes for organisations as diverse as Deutche Bank, Goldman Sachs, the Bank of England, and The British Army.