Businesses twice as likely to employ older applicants over younger candidates

  • Nearly twice as many British business owners would choose to recruit an older worker than a younger candidate with exactly the same skills and experience, according to data gathered by healthcare provider Benenden Health.

    More than a third of 1,000 SME business owners said that they would sooner recruit a 55-year-old, with just a fifth preferring a 24-year-old with the same CV.

    Issues raised by business leaders about so-called ‘snowflake’ and ‘millennial’ employees included ‘lower productivity’, ‘higher absence rates’ and ‘a poorer grasp of the English language’, as stated in Benenden Health’s research.

    The study, which also surveyed 1,000 employees, found that more than 56% of Generation Z employees (aged 16-23) felt they have been overlooked for roles due to their age.

    This was in comparison to 47% of millennials (aged 24-38), 29% of Generation X (aged 39-54) and 34% of baby boomers (aged 55-72) who were asked the same.

    Half of all respondents said a strong health and wellbeing benefit would increase their likelihood to join or stay with a business.

    Generation Z employees revealed they would be willing to sacrifice a third of their salary to receive a healthcare package that fits their personal needs.

    However, 85% of SMEs reported that they don’t have a healthcare package in place for employees above statutory allowances, with 44% of those without one claiming they don’t believe it is necessary.

    Just over half of the businesses revealed that they have never consulted workers on what they would value in a healthcare package, despite employees having different priorities depending on their age.

    Younger workers revealed that they place value on mental health support, counselling sessions and life skill lessons; whereas older generations said regular medical checks and flexible working were top of their list of potential healthcare benefits.

    Helen Smith, Chief Commercial Officer of Benenden Health said that their research indicated “that businesses should move away from a one-size-fits-all healthcare offering and think about tailoring a plan to meet the varied needs of a modern workforce.

    “Generation X workers often have the dual commitment of looking after children and parents so flexible working is valued by them, and with employees working longer than ever, ensuring your older workers are catered for as well – through regular eyesight and hearing tests, and ergonomic offices, for example – is vital to maintaining a strong modern workforce.”

    Benenden Health is a non-profit society, with a claimed UK-wide membership of over 815,000. It was founded in 1905 to “bring people together to help pay for medical care when they might need it.”

    Today the company states its mission to support businesses by providing affordable healthcare that helps keep employees healthy and valued and businesses thriving.

    To download Benenden Health’s guide to managing the needs of a multigenerational workforce, go to: https://www.benenden.co.uk/health-through-your-life

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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