Time to Rethink Our Ageist Attitudes
What happens when a crisis just becomes the way we live? It starts to describe the staffing shortage situation. It would seem after Covid thousands of people never returned to work. They simply vanished!
Every sector is struggling and young people who are entering the workforce are very unprepared. They are often unable to balance their personal needs with that of work so we are squeezing the existing workforce from both ends and they are feeling crushed.
My guest, Stuart Lewis, CEO of Rest Less, began to think about another response after conversations with his dad about the length of retirement. He noted that his dad would have spent 25 years in retirement which is enough time to rethink a career. I totally understood that because my own Dad only stopped driving his taxi aged 75 and probably would have gone on longer but he had to care for my mother.
After his dad died, Stuart watched a programme about an intergenerational nursery and was moved by the benefits of having older people and children together. Underpinned by the impetus that necessity is the mother of invention, he formed Rest Less, a staffing agency focused on the Over 50s. It was a sensible response when you learn that:
- 1/3 of the working population is over the age of 50
- Retention of the over 50s is better
- 70% of employment growth is in the over 50s age bracket
- Half a million people over the age of 50 want to work
- Intergenerational teams have better outcomes for staff and the business
However, we do live in a very ageist world, especially for women. People operate in negative stereotypes and think older people are not physically able and will be off sick more. That is not true! I would assert that ageism is socially acceptable and it’s often missing from the EDI agenda.
The UK chancellor says he wants more of these people back to work. But statements alone at a national level simply cannot change things. Organisations need to think about their own longevity strategies and how that relates to members of their workforce who need to feel encouraged, valued and included if there is any hope of retaining them. A continued shortage of labour and an aging workforce will weigh heavy on growth prospects for the UK economy.
So, let’s be creative. Chuck out the ageist bias like Ikea chucked out the chintz!