HR · 8 February 2017

Wiser and more productive: Why older workers could drive productivity within a small business

Older workers
Older workers could be operating at a higher work rate due to lower stress levels and a healthier lifestyle

Employees aged over 55 could be better equipped to manage large workloads than any other age bracket, as a new study reveals a line of potentials benefits to hiring older workers. 

The research, undertaken by project management platform Wrike, suggested that older workers in the UK demonstrated better productivity and were able to handle higher volumes of work than younger employees.

According to the study, the ability of older workers to be more productive in the workplace could be a matter of focus.

A third of over-55s said they operated above 90 per cent maximum productivity while at work – for millennial employees, just eight per cent worked at their highest level.

Older workers may be benefitting from being healthier and less stressed than younger counterparts. A quarter of millennials admitted to taking time off sick for work-related stress, compared to just 13 per cent of over-55s.

Commenting on the study, Wrike CEO Andrew Filev highlighted the “interesting and perhaps unexpected findings” that could provoke more small business owners to tap into the talent pool of older workers.

“Years of experience, and the extra wisdom that brings, certainly plays a part, but also a better sense of priority and focus appears to play a big part in why older generations are coping better with those,” he said in a statement.

Filev added that the stereotype of older workers being less in tune with developments in technology was unfounded.

“The older generation is not a generation of luddites. In fact, far from it.

“Finding the right digital tools can help individuals and teams to work more efficiently, and in the majority of cases the benefits of adopting them is being recognised across all ages in the UK workplace,” he concluded.

The findings arrive alongside a new government campaign to get employers to fill more vacancies with older workers. Andy Briggs, chief executive of Aviva Life UK and head of the government taskforce, has set a target for an additional one million 50 to 70 year olds in the next five years.

Briggs called on all UK employers to increase hiring in this age range by 12 per cent by 2022.

Commenting on the “necessary target”, Briggs said that businesses of all sizes stood to gain from a diverse workforce.

“Older people can be written off by their employers, but we are asking employers to consider carefully the overwhelming benefits of having a diverse and representative workforce, and then to act on it,” he said in a statement.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Simon Caldwell is a reporter for Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and communications from the University of Liverpool, and previously worked as a content editor in the ecommerce industry.

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