How old is old when it comes to employees?

by |
Are you subconsciously allowing ageism to colour your view of employees?

The Telegraph reported that according to an international survey of HR directors and executives, there is a “silent tipping point” at which employees are seen to have less value or be less attractive to the organisation.

When asked at what age this tipping point occurs, more than half of the HR directors said 50 years old, while more than a third said 60.
Of the executives, about 41% said the tipping point was 50, while 46% said it was 60.

The survey was carried out by professional services company KPMG and associate partner David Knight told the Telegraph that despite legislation banning age-based discrimination, it was still alive and well in the workplace.

“It seems that organisations still have to rethink their attitude towards the older employee, learning to appreciate just how productive they can be. Some of the findings are born out of reality and some out of perception, but it’s terribly generalistic to say the old are not good and the young are.”

In New Zealand the generally agreed definition of a mature worker is 55 plus, but data gathered around older workers can start from 45 plus.

According to a recent Equal Employment Opportunities Trust quarterly diversity survey ageing was identified as a top diversity matter for over half of New Zealand’s employers with almost two thirds of organisations seeming unprepared to manage or support an ageing workforce.

EEO Trust Chief Executive Bev Cassidy-Mackenzie said it was important to understand why the country is overlooking this “rich talent pool”.

“Employers need to consider both the business benefits of retaining older workers such as less churn and loss of skills/ knowledge, but also what the drivers are for this group. Research tells us that if you look after your staff and put in place appropriate support mechanisms such as flexible working arrangements or health and wellbeing programmes, that you will see increased retention not to mention productivity and performance,” she said.

Randstad director, Paul Robinson, agreed stating that with the skills shortage in New Zealand combined with the ageing population New Zealand businesses need to work on solutions to attract, engage and retain mature workers within their organisation.

“It’s about keeping them motivated, challenged and happy at work – ensuring they are valued for their contribution to the organisation,” he said. 
  • Robert Bennett on 4/03/2015 1:00:22 p.m.

    "How old is too old" depends on the level of the job. For entry or mid level jobs, the age tipping point may well be below 40. For very high level jobs it may be over 55. The result is that middle aged people will not be able to change jobs or careers easily, because it will be difficult to get a re-start, and if a break occurs in their employment for any reason, their career will be disrupted for years or permanently.

HRD Forum is the place for positive industry interaction and welcomes your professional and informed opinion.

Name (required)
Comment (required)
By submitting, I agree to the Terms & Conditions