June 1, 2022

How to prevent age discrimination in recruitment

Age discrimination in recruitment

Are you guilty of assuming older workers are less likely to be interested in training or even career progression? If so, you may need to re-think your assumptions.

People are living longer, more healthy lives and expect to be able to continue to work for longer.

Whilst around a third of people currently in work are between the ages of 50 and 64, with a further 1.2 million being over 65, there are still almost one million people over 50 who want to work but can’t get jobs.

Maybe this is because recruitment doesn’t appear to be age-inclusive. A recent survey by YouGov for the Centre for Ageing Better revealed that over a third of 50–70-year-olds said that they felt at a disadvantage when applying for jobs due to their age.

Although age discrimination is unlawful, it seems that it’s the most widely accepted form of discrimination in the UK. This must change.

How can you ensure your recruitment processes don’t discriminate on grounds of age?

Look at your job advert

Does it have age-biased language such as ‘recent graduate’, ‘dynamic personality’, ‘lively and energetic’ or ‘three to five years’ experience’? This type of wording indicates that you’re looking for a young worker, meaning that a more experienced older worker probably wouldn’t apply. Or, maybe more correctly, wouldn’t be considered if they did apply.

Does your job advert explain that you have a generous pension scheme or that you offer flexible working? This type of wording is likely to increase the size and age-range of the applicants.

Look at your application form

You may not ask for date of birth, but does it ask for ‘full work history’?  This will clearly indicate the approximate age of the applicant. Would ‘relevant work history’ be a better phrase?

Look at your interview process

Does your interview panel have CV’s or application forms with the information which can identify the applicant removed? Does your interview panel have a list of questions which are asked of every applicant? Does your interview panel consist of people of varying ages? Are you sure your interview panel doesn’t base their opinions on stereotypes of older workers?

Look at your workplace culture

Does your company actively look to build an age inclusive workforce? This should be an attitude which comes from the top down and applies to everyone.

If you can get this right and have a more age inclusive recruitment process, giving you a multi-generational workforce, you are likely to benefit in a number of ways:

  • Increased productivity
  • A workforce who shares their knowledge and experience
  • You’ll avoid discrimination on grounds of age for both older and younger workers and job applicants
  • Increase your reputation as a company which is not only committed to the principles of equal opportunities, diversity and inclusion, but also goes the extra mile to ensure that all age groups are represented in your company.

Remember – older workers can be good for business

It has been found that companies which have a 10% higher share of workers over the age of 50 are 1.1% more productive.  This is mainly due to lower job turnover and the general work experience of older workers.  They help in knowledge and skill sharing meaning that younger workers benefit from their expertise, ultimately helping the business to thrive, with approximately 75% of employers in England declaring that utilising the skills and experience of older workers is crucial to their success.

Taking all of this into account, can you afford not to be age inclusive?

Share this article

Want a round-up of stories like this delivered to your inbox?

Pop your email in to sign up for your monthly Focus newsletter:*

About the author

Elaine Pritchard

Elaine has a wealth of knowledge in producing contracts, training materials and other documentation as well as training other consultants. She piloted a scheme whereby she went on-site to act as a client’s HR Manager two days per week, whilst the post-holder was on maternity leave. Elaine also previously ran her own retail business for seven years, employing four people. Elaine is a field based consultant for Moorepay and provides on-site HR and Employment Law advice, consultancy and training services to our clients.

{