Time to Tap into Maturity

Reprinted with permission from adageblog.com.au – Sept. 11, 2013

There is no doubting that 2013 has been a tough year for both households and business. However it is hoped that with the election now behind us, we can look forward to renewed enthusiasm and activity from the business community.

SMEs currently employ over 70% of the Australian workforce. Despite their significant contribution as a collective group, as an individual employer they still face barriers and challenges when it comes to hiring and employing people.

Despite the ‘soft’ economy, there is always a challenge for business to find talented, reliable and affordable people, especially when the market is looking in the same place.

Working for an SME is also quite different to working for a large corporate. Employees are often required to do tasks outside their job description and in many cases will also have to deal or interact with customers. SMEs don’t always have the firepower to attract the best and brightest with larger organisations offering competitive salaries, career progression and other employee incentives.

So where can SMEs find value in the labour market? Enter the mature age worker.

The 45-55 age bracket is the fastest growing labour market in Australia yet is still largely neglected by employers. While research has shown mature workers offer a number of tangible benefits, many employers still appear to have a preference for hiring Gen Y and X workers, stereotyping older workers as technologically incompetent and inflexible to change.

The reality is, mature workers will reward employers with loyalty (including lower rates of absenteeism and turnover), work and life experience leading to better decision making and a strong work ethic. While a larger organisation may struggle to quantify some of these ‘soft skills’, many SMEs would place significant value on these attributes.

Anecdotal evidence suggests SMEs are already embracing mature workers or at least don’t necessarily have the same negative bias towards this market as larger organisations do. This may be because the age profile within SMEs is often more mature or there is in fact a negative sentiment towards younger workers who they view as flippant and unreliable.

The challenge lies in not only continuing to educate business on the benefits of hiring mature workers, but also getting this message across to a highly fragmented and unique business community. While big business are looked to by Government to change their ways and become more age friendly, greater engagement with SMEs needs to also be a focus given the number of people they already employ in Australia.

Tips for SMEs Hiring Mature Workers

While SMEs may be open to hiring maturity, the advantages of working for an SME also need to be better communicated to the employment market.

Here are 3 things you should consider when writing a job ad to attract mature age talent.

1. Be an Age Friendly Employer

In a society filled with jargon, sometimes we fail to communicate our message effectively. We encourage employers to be straight up – a simple statement confirming that you value experience or maturity is one option. Some employers go further by using the phrase ‘we encourage all ages to apply’

2. Differentiate Your Workplace

Small and Medium business are often able to adapt to change quickly, embody a ‘family’ like culture and provide flexible work options. Think about some of the unique value propositions your business can offer to employees and highlight these in your ad.

3. Money and location

Feedback from jobseekers, particularly older workers, is that a lot of time wasting could be avoided by providing salary guidelines. This not only enables the jobseeker to consider their application, but also ensures the employer is not wasting time on screening applicants who have unrealistic salary expectations. As many SMEs are also not necessarily located within the CBD, it is important to communicate location and options available for commuting i.e. public transport, on site parking.


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