7 in 10 employers not considering older workers for new job openings: Survey

Health issues, technology skills among concerns

An overwhelming majority (96 per cent) of Canadian owners of small and medium sized businesses agree that workers 65 years and older offer more valuable experience and expertise than younger workers, according to new research from Investors Group.

Eighty-five per cent said that workers 65 years and older are just as productive as younger workers and 79 per cent said they have the required level of energy and ambition for their jobs, found the survey of 743 business owners across Canada.

“As more boomers and seniors continue working in their later years, it’s encouraging to see that their value and contribution to the workplace are acknowledged by Canada’s small business owners,” said Dave Ablett, director of tax and estate planning at Investors Group. “At the same time, finding work in later years will require thinking outside the box and a sound retirement plan to ease the transition into a new phase of life.”

Seventeen per cent of small business owners said at least one-tenth of their workforce is 65 or older. And 43 per cent expect 10 per cent or more of their employees to retire in the next five years.

Despite the accolades, small business owners aren’t predisposed to put this demographic on the payroll as new workers. The study reveals that while 31 per cent of small business owners currently have employment opportunities within their organizations, but 71.5 per cent of survey respondents said it’s not likely that the position will be filled by someone older than 65 now or in the future.

One-half (51 per cent) said health issues are more likely to affect the attendance or job performance of workers who are seniors. Fifty-five per cent believe they are not as technologically adept as younger workers.

Recognizing that some accommodations may be in order, small business owners appear to be considering a number of viable work options for older workers. Many of the small business owners surveyed said they already offer, or are agreeable to implementing, a number of workplace adjustments including:

•part-time employment (65 per cent)

•specific project work (43 per cent)

•contract or consulting work (35 per cent)

•working from home (25 per cent)

•job-sharing (23 per cent).

“Whether it is a second career or a phased-in-retirement, flexibility is key to retaining and even acquiring older talent and enabling them to add value to the business as they continue to pursue their career interests,” said Ablett.

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