Far too often we hear from Rest Less members who have experienced age discrimination during recruitment processes. And, sadly, research from the British Sociological Association has revealed that a 50-year-old applicant could be up to three times less likely to get an interview than a 28-year-old.
Ageism is not only debilitating for the individuals involved but also means that companies aren’t reaping the benefits that a multigenerational workforce can bring. This includes improved productivity and problem-solving, enhanced company culture, and better customer service and engagement with the brand.
A key step in encouraging age diversity in the workplace is to ensure that companies are adopting age-inclusive processes at every stage of the recruitment process – from the application stage right through to daily working practices once a hire is made.
To help with this, we’ve put together a list of seven steps that your organisation can take to make its recruitment strategy more age-inclusive.
1. Make your stance on age diversity clear
One of the biggest green flags you can give to job candidates to signal that all are welcome – whatever age they are – is to include a diversity and inclusion statement in your job advert.
If candidates are ever in doubt over whether they’re likely to face challenges or rejection based on age, this simple statement could help to change that. It can also affect how confident candidates feel about their application, and about life at your company.
2. Keep job adverts unbiased and age-inclusive
The way that job opportunities are presented to candidates can make or break any decision to apply – so it’s important that job adverts are created thoughtfully to encourage diversity among applications.
This means choosing appropriate imagery and avoiding language that could show bias towards a particular age group – like ‘recent graduates’ or ‘tech savvy’ – and instead focusing on the specific skills or qualifications needed for the job, such as ‘coding skills’ and ‘a degree in Computer Science’.
For more on how to keep job adverts unbiased and age-inclusive, check out our article here.
3. Keep an eye on the data
Recording and analysing data on recruitment processes can be invaluable in measuring the diversity of candidates and setting targets. This data might look at how many applicants over 50 are interviewed for a particular role and how many secure positions in your organisation each year.
Then, for example, you could aim to increase the number of individuals in demographics where numbers are low by 10% in 12 months.
One way to collect this data is to provide a survey during the application process. Though, it’s essential to approach this method with caution – as it’s easy for candidates to feel as though personal information is being recorded for discriminatory purposes.
Be sure to explain the reason behind the survey; emphasising your organisation’s commitment to monitoring diversity and inclusion. It’s also important that this information is removed from applications before they’re reviewed and shortlisted by hiring teams.
4. Check your interview process
Keeping interviews flexible, and making sure they involve multiple decision-makers and predefined questions, can help to avoid bias.
It’s a good idea to offer candidates a choice of communication channel for the interview. For example, remote interviews could be conducted either via video call or over the phone, depending on what candidates feel most confident using. Ideally, interviewers should also be of different backgrounds, genders, ethnicities, ages, personalities, and experiences.
To allow interview candidates to start off on a more level playing field, you could also consider removing some of the guesswork from the process by sending them hints about what’s expected of them. This could include details on the dress code, interview topics, and appropriate background and lighting for a video interview.
Plus, having a standard set of questions to ask each candidate can help to make sure that age-related bias doesn’t guide the interview’s direction, length, or feedback – and that all candidates are given a fair shot at the process.
5. Make sure hiring managers receive age-inclusive training
Creating an age-inclusive recruitment process means making sure that all hiring managers and key influencers know how to avoid age bias – and that each understands their role in making their organisation more age-inclusive.
Discriminatory bias can often be unconscious. So, providing leaders with awareness training can encourage them to think more about their own behaviour around age.
6. Work with other organisations that support older workers
Working with organisations that support older workers can be a good way to connect older workers with job opportunities at your organisation.
Plus, these age-inclusive partnerships can go a long way in creating a united front against ageism in the workplace, which can attract more talent from all age groups.
According to research from Great Place To Work, employees are 9.8 times more likely to look forward to going to work if they trust that they and their colleagues will be treated fairly, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or age.
7. Showcase good news stories about multigenerational working
Your organisation will be far more likely to attract top-quality candidates from all age groups if it can provide real-life examples of successful multigenerational working.
This could include testimonials from older and younger workers at your organisation who have entered into a mentorship arrangement – or from older workers who can speak about their experiences of things like career progression, switching careers, or finding particular value or rewards in their role.
For example, Jackie and David recently became caretakers later in life by joining TIB Services, where they’re now thriving. You can read their story here.
With so many benefits to a multigenerational workforce and with people working longer than ever before, creating an age-inclusive hiring strategy is essential for businesses if they want to set themselves up for the best chance of success.
Does your organisation have an age-inclusive strategy in place? Are there any barriers preventing your organisation from creating a more age-inclusive culture? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.