An age agnostic business avoids arbitrary assumptions and hires mature age people for their skills and experience.
Australia is in the grip of an ageist epidemic with hundreds of thousands of mature aussies who are willing to work. They are being denied opportunity on the basis of their age.
In this article, I want to share three ways the small business owner can engage mature people in their business. By doing so, they will go beyond the usual arbitrary assumptions.
In 2018, the Human Rights Commission reported that 27% of mature people had been on the receiving end of ageism.
Combined with this, there were over 100,000 in this age group(45-64) who were willing to work but couldn’t find a job. Or alternatively they took over two years to find a new job if made redundant.
Combine this with the recent report of the flood of seniors(65+) into the workforce, and you can see that ageism, where it block opportunity for willing workers, could become a brake on our economies productivity.
In our business, we’ve taken up the challenge of helping those mature age individuals who decide to start their own business.
But there are also a few things, every small business owner can do to avoid focusing on age and what this age group supposedly can’t do.
BE AN AGE AGNOSTIC BUSINESS
To be agnostic in the secular meaning is to not buy into or believe certain commonly held beliefs. A few of these in regards to mature age people in Australia is that they are technology illiterate, inflexible and expensive. Instead of assumptions, take a deeper look at the person and find out the reality for that individual.
The first step of course is to ignore age on the resume. And instead, look deeper for a good role match – not based on the age of a person.
I recall an example where one of the best telemarketing staff we had was a mid 40’s mother of seven children. She was amazing on the phone and very able in terms of understanding the person on the other end of the line.
A good way to remove an age bias is to focus on what the outcome of the role actually is. And subsequently to match the required outcomes with the skills of your applicants. Doing a skills audit of everyone may highlight that the best person for the job is indeed a mature applicant. This is a focus on reality, as opposed to an arbitrary opinion.
Mature age means 45-64. Most of these individuals have actually grown up with technology.
Maybe they can’t CODE a website. But if you do an exercise I recently tried, you’ll find they actually know how to use a lot of technology. This is most of the technology you’re likely to need in your business.
In my survey, the average 45-64 year old used between 5 and 15 different applications on their smartphone everyday. These were applications for banking, communication, entertainment, travel and more.
The last way in which a small business owner can see the whole person is to put a value on experience. Instead of thinking someone with a little grey hair and wrinkles as ‘old’ – look at the experience they have and see how that could benefit your business.
We recently ran a survey for our business of over ten thousand business owners. We’ve used their collective experience to design our whole program for new mature age business owners. Rather than assuming what challenges business owners ran into, we collated all their experiences. As a result we found what their real problems and issues were.
In the same way, someone in their 40’s and beyond has a lot of life and work experience. This can be invaluable when trying to handle the challenges of today in your business.
Someone who has been in a similar role for twenty years, will probably have experienced some similar conditions. And they can guide you as the owner on how to solve it.
Recent research has shown that mature age individuals are amongst the most productive generations. They make the best business owners. Mature workers have experience and wisdom.
My recommendation to the small business owner is look beyond the age or hair colour and see the whole person. Build an age agnostic business and I guarantee you’ll reap the rewards, no matter their age.
By Hunter Leonard