Centre for Ageing Better – breaking taboos
Considering the focus of Ageing Better it’s no surprise that it strives in its employment practices to be an Age-friendly Employer.
Lindsey Tuley, Director of HR, sets out some of the approaches that Ageing Better takes to fulfil being an Age-friendly Employer and why there’s an excellent business case for doing so.
- We don’t insist recruits have experience in our sector: we recognise transferable skills
- We regard employees aged 50 and over as giving us a competitive advantage
“There can be so many barriers – conscious and unconscious – that people aged 50 and over face at work, and a lot of stereotypes bandied around – yet it’s often been a taboo subject in the workplace. In this organisation, we want to dispel that. We talk about it. And we take action to overcome it.
“At the recruitment stage, we challenge ourselves about the person specification for any vacancy. What is a pre-requisite? Does someone have to have experience in our sector? Often that is not the case. We recognise transferable skills from other jobs, which can bring diversity and fresh thinking."
“In our job adverts, we don’t say ‘we might support flexible working’; we say ‘flexible working WILL be supported’. This is from day one. A very high percentage of our staff work nine-day fortnights or weeks of five days compressed into four. If you tell someone in the 50+ age bracket that you must come into the office five days a week, that can be very off-putting. They may have caring responsibilities, for example. Attention in the past has been on flexing work for younger people, new parents, but it's good for everyone.
“We make it clear to interview panels that it’s not appropriate to question whether some is ‘over-qualified’. It’s not the interviewer’s concern. If they applied, they must want the job.”
Learning and development
“We offer opportunities across the organisation linked to people’s role and their development needs. We never ever assume that somebody doesn’t want to take a step up because of their age – which does get implied by many other employers. Sometimes people can even discriminate against themselves, assuming it’s not worth applying. Our aim is to ensure that development is consistent and equitable.”
The skills, expertise and experience that people aged 50 and over can bring offer us huge benefits as an employer.
Health and wellbeing
“For health and wellbeing, we operate an Employee Assistance Programme where people can get all sorts of personal advice, face-to-face or by phone. It’s anonymous and confidential.
“We’re really conscious of mental health and recognise that people aged 50 and over can face particular issues related to that stage of their lives. We listen. We talk. We raise awareness.
“We urge people to take breaks. If employees are struggling in their work, we carry out an occupational health assessment. We check that their equipment is suitable for their needs, whether they work from home or in the office, and can provide screens or chairs to suit them, for example.
“We’ve had a few sessions on the menopause from an outside provider in the last year. People are afraid of speaking about it – it’s another taboo. So we do talk about it, and we’ve issued guidance on all the symptoms. We list menopause as a reason you can be off sick.”
“The skills, expertise and experience that people aged 50 and over can bring offer us huge benefits as an employer. These are people who have life experience – they are familiar with all types of organisation. They have learned things in a different way, they understand things in a different way, they even communicate in a different way.
“Employers often say ‘we like to have people from diverse backgrounds’. We switch that and say ‘we need to have people from diverse backgrounds. That enhances our organisation.
“For us, having employees aged 50 and over is a competitive advantage.”
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