Is your company too young?

Justin Firth

27th March 2017


In the UK tech market there is a lot of emphasis on attracting and securing the best young talent. But the fact is that we, as a population, are only getting older. As fresh tech skills are dripping into the market at one end, the rest of the workforce are putting on the years.

A recent survey by CIPD revealed that over half of UK employees expected to work past retirement age. This means a significant number of workers who expect to still be working at 67 (the state pension age in 2028) and beyond. The main reason was not financial – it was because they believed it would keep them mentally fit.

This begs the question, in an aging workforce with ferocious competition for skilled young workers – are companies looking in the wrong place for their talent needs?

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The advantages of an ‘age diverse’ workforce

Whether hiring managers will openly admit it or not, there appears to be a widespread discrimination against hiring older employees in technology – especially for junior to mid-level roles. The perception is that older employees’ skills will be outdated, they will be too set in their ways to fit culturally, unwilling to take direction from younger managers, and unambitious in career progression. Many modern tech companies – especially start-ups – see the young average age of employees to be a badge of honour and representative of their ‘disruptive’ approach to the market.

Yet coming into a new hire with an open mind on age (which, afterall, is what every manager should do to avoid being discriminatory) can reveal an alternative perspective. It is likely that an older worker will not seek to change the ‘young and dynamic’ culture of the business, but actively embrace it. A lack of previous career progression can simply be a case of over-loyalty to a previous company that was poor at people development or progression.

Not only this, but bringing in maturity at different levels of a business can have specific advantages. In a 2014 CIPD survey of SMEs who hired diverse ages, nearly 90% agreed that the skills and knowledge of mature workers was “highly valuable”. Alongside this, Age diverse businesses highlighted these key benefits.

  • Ability to share knowledge with the team
  • Improved problem solving
  • Enhanced customer services

What’s more, in a challenge to the stereotype, the majority of businesses surveyed disagreed that mature workers cost the business more money, and disagreed that managing career aspirations was a challenge.

So next time you receive a CV with ‘too many years’ experience for the role, don’t put it into the rejected pile. Trying to keep your company young could be costing you much more in lost opportunity than you think.

Looking to diversify your team? We meet personally (in our office or via skype) with all our candidates so understand their skills, experience and career aspirations before we put them forward for a role. Call us on  020 7426 9835 to find amazing.

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