Attracting Older Workers to Retail and Hospitality Jobs

According to a global study by Bain & Company, workers aged 55 and older make up over 25% of the workforce in G7 countries by 2031, making older workers one of the most in-demand talent pools for employers today. In the UK, the government launched a “returnership” initiative to inspire those over the age of 50 to come back to work or to seek a career change. This scheme involves three programs that help older workers retrain and learn new skills, providing workers with a clear roadmap back into the workplace and encouraging organizations to hire them. In Western Australia, the Job Reconnect program provides grants to both employers and employees to cover costs related to licences, upskilling, and even work clothing, transport and childcare.

It’s crucial for retail and hospitality employers to know how to entice older workers back to work and to make the most of their valuable talent. Known as the ‘sandwich generation’—defined by caring for their elderly parents and also dependent children or grandchildren—older works have a strong work ethic. Customer facing and front of house roles enable them to fit work around caring for family and other responsibilities.

Keep reading for key insights from our panel discussion and get the latest research to understand exactly what older workers want and what retail and hospitality organizations can do attract this in-demand demographic.

What Do Older Workers Want?

What do over 50s want and need from an employer? Does your organization know how to attract and engage this older workforce and how to hire and retain them?

Flexibility

Unsurprisingly, monetary concerns are coaxing older workers back into the workplace due to the cost-of-living crisis. However, when it comes to choosing an employer, flexibility takes precedence over money.

Hospitality roles typically attract a younger demographic of workers. However, the flexibility offered by these jobs also appeals to the older working generation. Given that the over 50s are the largest age group with caring roles, flexible and part-time work is a powerful motivator for them to fit a job into their routine.  

As well as permanent roles, seasonal and flexible roles are available within the hospitality and retail industries, which can be more attractive to the older working community. Working harder in those seasonal months creates work-life balance, allowing older workers to take time off during quieter periods to recover and be with their friends and family.

Sense of Belonging

Workers in this age rage are still searching for rewarding work. Older workers wish to find a place where they can feel a part of their local community and give back. Over 50s enjoy creating social connections that a customer-facing job in a restaurant or supermarket can provide.

Customer-facing roles in hospitality and retail give individuals the chance to serve and connect with their community. For older customers, seeing employees in shops and restaurants that represent them can boost the customer experience. 

Myths About Older Workers

There are plenty of misconceptions out there from employers and colleagues about hiring and working with older workers. Consider these myths busted.

Myth 1: Older Workers are Resistant to Technology

Certain words can be viewed as a turn off for an over 50s audience, including “tech-savvy”, which some see as a way to ward off older candidates. There are older people who will feel excluded because others wrongly perceive that they’re less capable with technology, when in fact they are part of a generation that has seen huge advancements in technology. Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, is in his late 60s, and Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple is in his early 60s.

Recognise that all colleagues work differently with technology, so you must be thoughtful in your use of training. In hospitality and retail, workers are likely to be using tills and sales computer systems. Regardless of whether a person struggles with technology, an organization should have a strong program in place to support workers as they learn how to use these tools. For example, consider implementing a buddy system of workers and leaders who will happily help new employees in their first few weeks as they learn point-of-sale systems.

Myth 2: Absences are Higher Because of Health Issues

As people get older, their health can decline. However, this doesn’t mean that absenteeism is higher amongst older workers. In fact, older workers are more likely to have higher everyday attendance rates due to their strong work ethic. When you do see sickness or absence, it is typically in the form of long-term leave, rather than the odd day here and there.

Myth 3: Older Workers are Less Productive Than Younger Workers

A study demonstrated that there was no different between younger and older workers in terms of productivity. This study found that with their years of experience and memories, older people perhaps dismiss new information when they process things and instead use past information. It’s therefore important to acknowledge that older workers aren’t doing things worse, they just do these things differently through their years of experience.

What Can Organizations Do to Attract Older Workers?

So, how can retail and hospitality organization tap into this hard-working talent pool? Here are four questions to ask to ensure your talent acquisition program is over-50s friendly.

Are Your Candidate Attraction Materials Inclusive for Everyone?

To attract older workers, you must think more creatively and broadly.  Use community-based websites to engage with people who live close to your locations. Show how the job will fit into their lifestyle and what it would be like for an older person to work there, rather than a generic message. Create testimonials from your current employees to support this.

Make sure that your imagery is diverse, featuring people of all ages. Look at your marketing materials and ensure that it reflects the community so that over 50s can see that jobs in hospitality are here for them. Take advantage of local community-boards in community centers and supermarkets.

How is Your Candidate Experience?

Retention and attraction are very different. Employers can encourage people to apply for jobs through their advertisements, yet ultimately, it is down to the experience the candidate has during the recruitment process, induction and beyond. The candidate experience is what will make them accept the position and stay at the company. 

When younger workers leave education, they’re taught how to answer competency-based interview questions and how to write a resume. The older generation of workers likely won’t have a resume and may not have experience with this kind of interview. Is your interview process age inclusive and relevant to them?

Are You Giving Them What They Want?

Now that we’ve shared what older workers want, is your organization serious about flexible shift patterns? Over 40% of the part-time workforce is aged over 50. Not only does this part-time schedule work in hospitality, but also in retail, in which the holiday season creates a huge demand for workers.

Different shift patterns in retail can support individuals in their family commitments and lifestyle. Look at your employees’ caring responsibilities, for partners, for children, for elderly parents, and take this into account when creating your shift offerings.

But what else does this generation want from you? Everyone responds well to positive feedback. Both the retail and hospitality industries are great at celebrating successes, shown through brilliant behavior and examples across organizations.

Finally, show that your organization values them by offering benefit packages. Health is a priority for everyone as we get older, and health benefits can help to attract them to your organization.

Does Your Anti-Bias Training Include Age?

Ageism usually gets the least amount of focus across the DE&I plan. Train your leaders and hiring managers on unconscious bias particularly as it relates to age. Ensure there are no biases lurking in the recruitment process to open up talent pools instead of closing them down.

FUTURE OF WORK

DESTINATION 2030: 10 PREDICTIONS FOR WHAT’S NEXT IN THE WORLD OF WORK

Shifting Perceptions of Tech & Digital Talent for a Leading Retailer

Shifting Perceptions of Tech & Digital Talent for a Leading Retailer

Retail Employer Brand

Shifting Perceptions of Tech & Digital Talent for a Leading Retailer

A renowned grocery retailer turned to PeopleScout for a new employer brand and recruitment process to help them change perceptions and become an employer of choice for tech, digital and data analyst talent.

5,000 proactive searches per month on average related to software engineering on the client’s career site
13,000 views of digital, tech and data job postings per month on average
17,000 tech, digital and data pros have joined a new LinkedIn community led by the client
39 % increase in LinkedIn impressions

Situation 

With the rise of ecommerce and consumers seeking more digital experiences, this leading grocery retailer needed to shift their workforce to support web and mobile app development, data analytics, cloud computing and more. They anticipated that 50% of their new hires would go into digital, tech and data-focused roles, yet their legacy employer brand and recruitment journey was designed for volume in-store hiring. 

However, tech and digital talent couldn’t see past the shop floor. In a highly competitive and disruptive market, millennial and Gen Z digital natives simply didn’t think a retailer could match their needs or ambitions, despite the retailer’s vast capabilities and breadth of opportunities. 

The organization turned to PeopleScout to help them evolve their employer value proposition (EVP) and employer brand so that it would speak to candidates with tech and digital skills and experience. Because of the stiff competition, the new brand had to work hard. It needed to bring their culture to life, define what was unique about the retailer and do justice to their innovation and variety of roles.  

It also had to launch within 50 days to coincide with the conclusion of the launch of a new Digital, Tech and Data business unit. 

Solution 

In response, we created a dedicated brand platform for digital, tech and data roles. This brought all these roles under one umbrella, delivering integrated solutions across the company. With this bold new direction, the client could offer greater opportunities and take a new value proposition to market. 

Curate 

It was vital to understand the motivations of our audience. What was important to them, and what could the retailer offer that was a good fit? 

To make sure we really knew our target talent’s needs and wants, we had to gain key insights from tech-focused colleagues of all levels, plus external contacts who fit the “digital native” demographic. It was also crucial to ensure all our insight came from a truly diverse pool of respondents. 

We started by conducting interviews with leaders and visionaries to establish a clear view on the current situation and strategic direction for the future. We then held focus groups with team leads across data, tech and digital, as well as a series of workshops with their teams. This gave us a clear picture that helped us shape our prototype proposition. 

Our external research consisted of in-depth interviews with DevOps specialists, software engineers and data scientists working for competitors for talent in digital, tech and data. Additionally, we surveyed potential candidates on market perception of the retailer. Our proposition was tested on all external candidates before finalizing. 

Our key insights told us that external talent wanted: 

  • Challenging problems 
  • Collaborative cultures 
  • Freedom to experiment and learn 
  • A flexible work environment 
  • Training and development 
  • To see their work implemented 

We found that the client’s offering matched this head on. We needed to highlight these things in the new employer brand platform: 

  • Size, scale and complexity of challenge 
  • Values and culture 
  • Opportunities to develop 
  • Tangible impact 
  • Ability to work flexibly 

Create 

We combined our findings into employer value proposition (EVP) pillars that positioned the retailer as the perfect blend of nimble start-up with big business backing and future-facing retail giant. Using these pillars, we devised bold, exciting creative that brought our proposition to life. Steeped in the organization’s longevity and far-reaching impact from serving 71% of the public, the EVP focused on the journey to become a nimble tech-forward organization that creates incredible digital experiences. 

The new platform also included a fresh color palette, a new tone of voice and a suite of edgy, tech-inspired characters with a sense of fun to be used across all tech, digital and data branding. Derived from tech and data symbols, they served to disrupt notions of the client as a purely retail organization. 

These creative elements were then rolled out across a huge range of recruitment tools, including a brand book, presentation roadshow, social media video content, event materials, careers pages, lanyards, PowerPoint slides, a LinkedIn channel and external media. The tech teams are even dressing their offices using the new creative, applying images of the brand characters to walls and lockers and producing large 3D brand symbols situated across various spaces.  

Community 

The brand was well received internally and externally, driving engagement and inspiring teams. In order to build buzz, we built a communications and engagement strategy to drive awareness, which also resulted in existing employees becoming brand ambassadors. 

With the brand in place, we developed a more intuitive candidate experience with a simplified application process. We also designed an email nurture program to convert interest into applications. These communications harnessed the power of our new brand ambassadors and immersed candidates in personalized content. 

The new employer brand messaging now permeates all communications coming from the division, including the specially built LinkedIn community which acts as a digital talent pool for the retailer. 

As part of the new brand launch, we ran interactive workshops and sessions to generate brand awareness at the annual Women in Data conference. This gave the client an opportunity to build relationships with women in the tech space and speak about their available opportunities to prospective candidates. 

Results 

Across LinkedIn, strong results from the launch of the brand show we’ve cut through to successfully appeal to our audience. 

In the month after the launch, the LinkedIn content garnered: 

  • 216K impressions 
  • 4,100 engagements (a 39% increase from prior to the new brand launch) 

The LinkedIn community has grown to over 17,000 followers in the three years since the launch.  

On the client’s career site, there are an average of 5,000 proactive searches per month related to software engineering, showing that the brand has been successful in positioning the retailer as an employer of choice for software development professionals. The client experiences a monthly average of 13,000 views of digital, tech and data job postings.  

In addition, over the last three years, there’s been a 66% increase in visits to the company’s digital, tech and data careers landing page.

At a Glance

  • COMPANY: Leading grocery retailer
  • PEOPLESCOUT SOLUTIONS: Talent Advisory
  • LOCATIONS: 600 supermarkets, 800 convenience stores and ecommerce platforms