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How to Encourage Hiring Managers to Ensure Age and Behavioural Diversity

In this article, we explore some of the challenges around recruitment and provide hiring managers with some food for thought regarding recruitment age and behavioural diversity.

The complexities around recruitment have increased dramatically in recent years. No longer is it a case of simply finding the “best” people. Organisations are now looking to ensure that workplace diversity is an equal priority. This article will explore some of these challenges and provide hiring managers with some food for thought regarding recruitment age and behavioural diversity.

Diversity and Inclusion have advanced dramatically, even over the last 18 months. A report by McKinsey and Company published in 2020 suggested that a variety of responses towards D&I existed at the time. On the one hand, were those who firmly believed D&I was something that simply could not be ignored or placed on the backburner. Others saw it more as a luxury or a “nice-to-have”. In the space of less than two years, this latter group has shrunk considerably. This marks a significant cultural shift.

McKinsey’s report also highlights that D&I issues are not just philosophical requirements - it presents a compelling business case for building diverse leadership teams, as a necessary foundation for organisational success.

Two years ago, the main focus of D&I was around issues of race and sexuality. Initiatives such as Black Lives Matter and Pride Marches were catalysts for this. As 2022 advances, the conversations are shifting wider, to now include (and wonderfully so), consideration of age.

According to the Center for Better Ageing, ageism is the most prevalent form of discrimination in the UK, amongst all age groups, with one in three people experiencing age-based prejudice or discrimination.

At Work/Redefined, we are passionate about helping the world to see that success, happiness and possibility have no age limit. We believe that people can live their best lives at 50 and beyond.

With an unrivalled understanding of Older Workers, we enable employers to improve organisations' ESG performance in relation to society’s greatest economic challenge – an ageing population. We do this by adopting cutting-edge research, data and insight-led approaches.

Ageism in the Workplace

Many experienced professionals find that they hit challenges in their mid-50s; difficulties they perhaps would never have expected would become their realities. The typical 50-year-old is well-educated, highly-skilled, experienced and has a tremendous amount to offer. Yet many are finding they are either ‘moved on’ in favour of younger professionals or that a desire to change careers in a search for a new challenge is fraught with challenges.

Some of these challenges are externally imposed. One example would be that employers know that experienced professionals are more expensive, so often opt for the ‘cheaper hire’, hoping the experience will be gained quickly and on the job. (This is often premature: some skills can be gained quickly but experience, by definition, takes longer). This leaves many workers in their mid-life struggling to find meaningful employment for their final 10 to 15 years of employment. A humiliation can come with this, compounding the issues, and having an impact on interview rapport.

Some of these challenges are also internally imposed. This can be a dose of middle-life imposter syndrome, anxiety about job security or the adjustment to becoming empty nesters, which can interestingly trigger powerful and unexpected emotional responses that filter down to application at work.

Whether it’s the employer and recruiter struggling to help the 50-plus find work, or the employees themselves, it is staggering how many people in this group who are hugely employable on paper, end up not being so in reality.

Hiring managers ought to step back and reconsider.

4 Reasons Why Hiring Managers Should Foster Age Diverse Teams

Hiring workers with a diverse age profile is only good for a team. Here are four suggested reasons why:

1. Different generations bring different perspectives and experiences, both of which are essential for innovation and creativity to flourish. Difference is the thing that creates sparks, which when rightly handled, facilitates the very best thinking and problem solving.

2. Hiring workers of a diverse age profile helps model the importance of D&I, as well as protect organisations against complaints and disrepute.

3. Many Millennials to Generation Alpha speak of their preference for on the job coaching and mentoring, in the place of the more traditional annual appraisal. Filling our workplaces with the experience of those more mature in work provides the perfect ‘in house’ solution to what younger workers are looking for.

4. Society is increasing fractured, with little natural integration of the generation. The workplace is one place that can intentionally challenge this and begin to shift momentum in the opposite direction.

The Mission of Work/Redefined

Work/Redefined is uniquely placed to help organisations overcome some of these issues. We are passionate about changing the widely believed stereotypes that at 50 and beyond, people have lived the most dynamic part of their lives. Our tailored over-50s Jobs Board is a great place to search for jobs, as our CPD Accredited Training Courses support life-long learning.

We have also partnered with C-me Colour Profiling to provide a quick, cost-effective and scalable behavioural profiling tool to help candidates better understand themselves, and also help recruiters assess candidates with far greater insight.

To view an example Recruitment Report, please click this link or the image below.

The Benefits of Recruiting for Behaviour

The search for the best employment talent is an ongoing phenomenon, with greater emphasis being placed on interviews and covering letters, as well as the increasing popularity of online assessments in order to filter potential candidates. As Alex Hirst, chief executive at global agency Hoxby, says: “I think people are becoming wiser to the fact that hiring on the basis of qualifications and background doesn’t necessarily mean you’re getting the right person or combination of people”.

Similarly, Bernard Ferrari states in his book Power Listening that “People come into business situations with résumés and pedigrees and objective measures of experience and prior success, but matters of character, suitability, and interpersonal chemistry are difficult to quantify. Instinct and intuition, while undeniably relevant when it comes to assembling good teams or fixing dysfunctional ones, can only take you so far”.

Chemistry (finding people who will ‘fit’ the specific position being advertised and the organisational culture more generally) matters as much, if not more than competency. So much of the latter can be taught, whereas the former is more about character, motivation and behaviours.

Whilst discriminatory practices are easier to spot and increasingly frowned upon and challenged, unconscious bias remains a very live problem. Unconscious biases are “the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our views, our actions and our decision-making. Unconscious bias makes us predisposed to one person or group, over and above another. This leads unintentionally to categorising people. The power of unconscious bias lies in its subtlety, meaning most people are unaware of their own bias. Ask most people if they think they are biased, and they will claim not to be. For those who can admit to their biases, few are able to see how deep they actually run”.

The most obvious unconscious biases are racial, gender, social (including age) or religion. There are also a number of other subtler biases worth noting. Unconscious bias can lead to unintentional discrimination through things such as recruiting in one’s own image. Applying this to the two areas of focus on this blog (recruiting that consider both age and behaviour), unconscious bias can clearly be seen to be at work.

In a world where recruitment can be too focussed on competency and experience, behaviours and how an employee typically ‘shows up’ can be misinterpreted. For example, if an employee’s behaviour is not similar to those of their boss, they can be unintentionally overlooked also.

In order to mitigate, perhaps the missing piece in your recruitment strategy could be behavioural profiling?

C-me Behavioural Profiling

Work/Redefined has teamed up with C-me Colour Profiling to help recruiters and over-50s job seekers to better understand the behaviours that are crucial for effective work.

C-me produces simple, memorable and incredibly accurate psychometric profiles, enabling participants to better understand their behaviours (preferred ways of doing things). Unlike many psychometrics, C-me focuses on behaviours, not personality, as these have the most direct impact on other people. C-me profiles are also very easy to use, requiring candidates to spend less than 10 minutes answering 15 online questions.

No longer is it necessary to spend close to an hour answering hundreds of questions in order to generate accurate profiles. Clever algorithms do all the hard work for you, meaning that speed no longer has to be traded off against accuracy.

So How Can You Benefit from C-me Psychometric Profiles In Your Recruitment Strategy?

Imagine for a moment that two different people but with similar experience and skills are applicable for the same job. The tried and tested triad of CV, covering letter and interview are applied to these candidates but even after these, it remains nearly impossible to objectively separate them. What is a recruiter to do?

Imagine that a fourth leg is added to the above trio and a behavioural profile became a standard part of the recruitment process. This would help recruiters reflect on the behavioural approach of the candidates, something that CV, covering letter and interview is not geared up to evaluate.

The profile would describe the preferences of the two inseparable candidates – perhaps one has a Red-Yellow preference and the other has a Blue-Green preference. This is illustrated in the diagram to the right.

Two people. Same skill set. Same experience. Very different approaches to their work. C-me profiles can provide information that CVs cannot, and this can add a lot of value to the interview stage of the recruitment process. Much-needed colour is added to the otherwise fairly ‘grey’ approach.

As Mark Smith, CEO at WRc PLC remarks:

“C-me helps us make good decisions around recruitment as we can’t afford to make recruitment mistakes. Our talent needs to be right for us and us right for them.”

The above benefits can also be hugely valuable for the person seeking work. Better understanding themselves and their behaviours can guide them in job applications. Being able to comment on their behaviours with greater depth of insight will add credence and confidence to their interview process.

So How Can Hiring Managers use C-me?

C-me is a highly effective tool to help hiring managers consider behavioural approaches to work, adding greater colour to their recruitment process. C-me can help recruitment to be more objective because behaviours are not tightly associated to different age brackets. If more organisations placed greater weight on behavioural profiling, there could perhaps be less need to focus on recruitment by age; it would start happening organically.

At the end of the day, it is not a person’s ethnicity, gender or age that is the greatest factor in working relationships, but behaviour. It, therefore, makes great sense to focus more of our recruitment efforts on the very factor that has the most direct impact: behaviour is king.

Work/Redefined can help you access an untapped talent pool to find the right candidates and together with our partner, C-me profiling, can ensure they are the right fit.

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