Expel older workers at your peril

Businesses that push out their older employees may rue the day as older employees can add stability and have irreplaceable experience, which is vital for the health and prosperity of companies.

If they leave, you are likely to see your profits walking out the door with them.

The ACCA survey of practicing members, working in more than 15,000 small businesses across the UK, emphasises the need for balance and make-up of enterprise.

Young people bring vitality, energy and bright ideas but older workers can offer added perspective, judgement and experience.

‘Older employees add stability and often have years of experience,’ said David Harvey, ACCA’s head of small business.’It may sometimes appear good for business to bring in young blood or to fire more expensive older employees if redundancies have to be made.

‘In fact, older leavers often take years of profit making knowledge with them, knowledge in which the business may have invested good money over many years.

‘In our experience, businesses which value the contribution of older employees have their rewards in the profit margin.’

Companies which prefer not to employ individuals, or let more experienced staff go, often appear to perform less well than competitors.

In the late 1980s, DIY retailer B&Q took steps to recognise skills and knowledge which come with life experience. The company launched a pilot project in where a store was staffed by over 50s. The feedback from customers and staff was so positive B&Q adopted an over 50s employment policy, which is still in place.

B&Q has been promoting it?s over 50s employment policy in its B&Q Warehouses for over ten years.

John Suttle, general manager at a B&Q Warehouse said: “We believe employees over 50 have a huge amount to offer our customers and play an important role in the mentoring of younger members of staff.

‘We always look for staff of all ages where older people can enjoy working with younger people as part of a team and encourage younger staff to appreciate extra skills and experience which mature workers bring to the job.’The survey also reveals some firms that remove tiers of senior employees are later forced to bring in external consultants at great expense to try to fill the gap.

Even when employees come to retire, fewer than 20 per cent of small businesses have deliberate strategies for trying to retain their contacts and experience.

Those which do the most often allow retirees to work part-time in tandem with their successor to pass on business knowledge.

The ongoing work-life battle

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