Majority of companies admit to age-based recruitment bias.

older workforce

The majority (84%) of employers admit that processes and behaviours in relation to older workers need improvement, according to research from Mercer. The study also found that there is a lack of checks on hiring and recruitment practices.

An overwhelming 87% of survey respondents said that they do not check if their people managers hire workers older than themselves. And of the 13% that do carry out such checks, over half found that managers do not hire people older than themselves.

Meanwhile, TUC research has found that many employees in the 45-54 years age bracket have concerns about being able to continue to work as they get older, but also do not feel prepared for retirement – with less than half (40%) feeling financially ready to retire.

In terms of age-friendly working practices, Mercer’s research revealed that flexible working is the most popular, offered by 81% of employers, whereas programmes preparing employees for retirement are only offered by around half (52%) of companies.

“A lack of monitoring around age-related recruitment biases not only means that companies are potentially breaking age discrimination laws, it also means they might be missing out on a wealth of experience and talent that could benefit the business,” said Yvonne Sonsino, Europe innovation leader, Mercer. “There are limited examples of age equality checks in other key areas too, such as on pay levels by age, performance grade distribution and training spend.”

“For HR programmes to meet the needs of multi-generational workforces, recruitment, talent management and job design, retirement savings adequacy, employee education and training, as well as health and wellbeing programmes will need to be reviewed from a new perspective.”

Minister for Pensions, Baroness Ros Altmann, said: “This survey shows that there is still more work to be done to encourage recruiters to make the most of the talents of older workers.

“It is in the interests of individuals, employers and the economy to ensure older job applicants are not overlooked, as they have a wealth of experience and valuable skills that can benefit businesses. Ensuring mature applicants are considered on their merits rather than written off is vital, especially in our ageing population.”