Employer engagement is essential to success in placing 50+ customers. Employers can often be part of the placement challenge, for example, if they discriminate against older recruits and / or against Jobcentre Plus customers. On the other hand, having employers on your side and working with you on the placement process can mean you have won half the battle, particularly if they have vacancies they are keen to fill.
There are three things you can do to build effective relationships with employers:
- take a ‘business first’ approach to candidate placement
- engage employers through work experience placements and work tasters
- enable employers to understand the business benefits of taking on 50+ recruits.
One way of looking at this is to treat the employer as the customer and the jobseeker as the candidate. This is the approach which Remploy now takes to placing people with disabilities. The whole ‘business first’ approach has recently been tested out in two projects – in the care and security sectors – as part of a South East Region older workforce programme, 40-70 Tomorrow’s Workforce. This approach has resulted in a placement rate of 60 per cent in one sector and an expected placement rate of 50 per cent in the other, mainly of one-year-plus unemployed jobseekers.
This case study of how to build a successful relationship with one employer may be of interest.
Vedas is a commercial recruitment agency which also provides back to work programmes funded by the European Social Fund and the Working Neighbourhood Fund. There is a strict division between its commercial operations and funded programmes.
Through its Working Neighbourhood Fund programme, Vedas supplies all staff to BCW, an advanced engineering company producing parts for the automotive and aircraft industries. The relationship between Vedas and BCW dates back several years to BCW’s foundation as a small family business with just three employees and one machine. Today the company employs more than 100 people with Vedas helping to fill a wide range of roles from managerial to shopfloor positions.
Lesley Burrows, Managing Director of Vedas, stresses that the relationship with the employer is just as important as that with the job applicant. She believes that the basis of a successful relationship with an employer lies in understanding their business and staff needs. This involves initial research into the industry sector, company background, business plans and potential growth.
Vedas and BCW are in touch every day. Vedas attends regular strategic and recruitment planning meetings. They are also in contact with BCW’s external training partner.
BCW’s ethos is to offer employment opportunities to people who may find it difficult to find work elsewhere. These include the long-term unemployed and people aged 50+. BCW Manager Trevor Cassie says that as a result, they have a very committed workforce: “We need to invest a little in our people; they might need more support at the beginning but it pays off. Ninety-five percent of the employees we get through Vedas succeed at BCW.”
Vedas provides both induction and ongoing support to people joining BCW. Their personal development plans include goals which extend into employment. Vedas monitors their progress and helps address issues and concerns as they arise.
Identify Employers more likely to recruit 50+ candidates
- Age Positive employers
- Members of the Employers Forum on Ageing
- Investors in People accredited
- Made the Skills Pledge
- Disability Confident employers
- Won any awards for policies and practices relating to their 50+ workforce
Work Placements and Taster Sessions
Engaging employers through work placements and tasters before the actual job placement process brings benefits for your organisation, your 50+ customers and to employers themselves.
Benefits for your organisation
Learning about the most current recruitment practices in different sectors.
Benefits for your 50+ customer
- Resolving their fears about their ability to get back into a work routine
- Having the chance to prove themselves
- Demonstrating they can balance work with other commitments.
Benefits for employers
- Increasing their awareness of 50+ workers attributes and potentials
- Gaining first-hand knowledge of prospective employees without making a commitment
- Ability to trial potential candidates before offering a job.
The business benefits of 50+ recruits
Many employers value their existing older employees because they know them and appreciate what they bring to the organisation. However. this positive attitude is often not reflected in their recruitment practices. They may have younger candidates in mind or have concerns about the health and productivity of older workers they don’t know.
Strengths Older Workers Bring to the Workplace
- Reliability, loyalty, motivation
- Dedication, punctuality, flexibility
- Skills, knowledge, experience
- Maturity, confidence
- Organisational skills
- Communication skills
- Empathy, good customer relations
- Mentoring, knowledge transfer
Benefits to the Bottom Line
Reduced staff turnover, recruitment and training costs
Nationwide reports their annual turnover is four per cent for older staff compared with 10 per cent for younger workers, with recruits in their 50s and 60s staying for an average of 13 years.
In a survey of 70 UK businesses by NIACE/CROW, employers reported that by employing older workers they made significant savings in recruitment and training costs
Less short-term sickness absence
Some older workers have chronic health conditions but they generally have fewer short- term absences than their younger counterparts. For example, B&Q report that absenteeism generally is 39 per cent lower among their older workers.
Greater accuracy and accumulated knowledge and experience.
Case Study - Business Benefits
Domestic and General Call Centre, Nottingham
The call centre industry employing large numbers of mainly younger workers suffers from high staff turnover. At the Domestic and General call centre in Nottingham, the largest specialist provider of service contracts on domestic electrical equipment in the country, HR Manager Tracy Burrell describes how the business benefits of an older workforce in an industry typically seen as an employer of young people encourage the company to adopt proactive age management methods.
"The challenge was to increase staff diversity and attract and retain higher numbers of older workers who bring experience, loyalty and reliability. A range of strategies have been employed to ensure recruitment is age-positive including designing recruitment material for older as well as younger workers through the use of song titles as strap lines such as, ‘Baby it's cold outside', or ‘Talking about my generation.'
"We have also been using age ambassadors at recruitment fairs, briefing temp agencies to meet and beat a 10 per cent target of mature workers and we use telephone interviews at the first stage of selection to avoid age bias. We also have confidence boosting induction training and we try to build the confidence of all workers and give support prior to them being involved in call handling. Flexible working patterns include term time working and flexible hours while a range of contract types include arrangements that are suitable for people with changing career expectations and caring responsibilities."
"The benefits to the company include an increase in empathy towards our customers (many of whom may be older people themselves, phoning in with problems about their domestic appliances). We find that older workers bring a positive work ethic and are loyal. This impacts on staff attendance and retention figures. Moreover, they have a positive influence on younger staff members.
Source: Age Matters in a Downturn published by the Employers Forum on Age and TAEN 2009