Age is a Number, not a Sentence

One of the questions that was raised following the tragic accident involving a bus at Fort Ternan, Kericho was the age of the driver. According to reports in the newspapers, the driver of the ill-fated bus was 72 years old. He had, according to his employer, been a competent employee until then. Questions as to whether his age affected his capacity to perform his duties will remain unanswered. Every organization has to consider the age of its employees. Section 58 and 59 of the Employment Act of 2007 recognize that the minimum age for any industrial undertaking is 16 years. Most employees are required to retire by the age of 55 years but in some instances, an employee can continue working up to the age of 70 years.

As technological advances shift the nature of work, jobs are continually evolving. There are jobs such as digital asset manager which did not exist twenty years ago while there are others such as typists that have become obsolete. The ratio of Kenya’s youth to the population stands at 20.3%, which is above the world’s average of 15.8%. A 2016 World Bank report stated that the unemployment rate in Kenya among the youth stands at 17.3%.  This is higher than the unemployment rates in Uganda and Tanzania which stands at only 6%. It is against this backdrop that organizations have to find the right balance in order to attain diversity in terms of age in their organizations.

There are stereotypes that are associated with both the young and the old that do not necessarily apply to everyone in these groups. Many hiring managers consider millenials a good fit for certain roles because it is often assumed that they are “energetic,” “digital natives” and “agile learners.” These assumptions have driven a shift in terms of considering the criteria for labelling an employee as “too old.” In certain industries, anyone above the age of 40 years is considered “too old,” hence certain roles are reserved for employees below the age of 40 years. In other organizations, those who are below the age of 40 years do not stand a chance because most positions are occupied by those who are 40 years and above. Both extremes create an imbalance in the work place and stifle the rich experiences that would be created as a result of having a diverse workforce comprised of workers of different ages. Organizations can take the following active steps towards ensuring that they create a diverse workforce:

Have a talent acquisition strategy that spells out skills/background required for each role

Having a talent acquisition strategy ensures that you hire the right talent for the right job. It forecasts the organization’s need for talent in line with its growth strategy and helps in planning in advance for talent acquisition. Having such a strategy in place can help in eliminating some of the age inclined biases because the skills and background of the required talent is clearly outlined in the strategy. Some cliché words used in describing talent are regarded as ageist. For instance, “highly energetic” is regarded as a euphemism for “young”.  Avoid using such words in your strategy. Instead, focus on attributes that would make a candidate valuable regardless of their age. The talent acquisition strategy should be shared with external recruiters to ensure they understand the organization’s needs when it comes to talent.

Create interview templates that are related to candidates’ skills and work experience

A good interview should be an opportunity to delve deeper into a candidate’s competencies and work experience. All the questions that the interview panel intends to pose to the client should be geared towards ensuring that the hiring team has a clear picture of the value that the candidate would bring to an organization if given an opportunity to do so. Experience is valuable and it often comes with age but this does not mean that a candidate who does not have many years of experience would not be of value if given an opportunity to put their skills to use.

Make training opportunities available to all employees

Learning, as they often say, is the only way to avoid rusting. Training is an essential part of your organization’s growth hence it should be offered to all employees on a regular basis. Organizations often assume that they will not benefit much by offering their older employees opportunities for training since the older employees are on their way to retirement. This assumption results in a huge skills gap between the older and younger employees.  Training offers an opportunity for the older employees to share the wealth of the experience they possess with the younger employees. It offers the younger employees an opportunity to share the new developments in the field with older employees in an environment that is interactive and friendly.

There are three ages to consider according to psychologists. Which age are you focusing on?

Psychologists argue that there are three “ages.”

Chronological age is determined by one’s date of birth. It is subject to the clock and seasons on earth hence there is nothing anyone can do about it.

Biological age is determined by one’s lifestyle. A 20 year old can have the heart of a 90 year old due to bad eating habits, lack of exercise and a bad attitude towards life. A 60 year old can have the heart of a 30 year old due to proper eating habits, regular exercise and a good attitude towards life.

Psychological age is determined by how an individual views himself or herself as he/she advances in age. As Henry Ford, the American business magnate and founder of Ford Motor Company rightfully observed: Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.

Are you stuck in a rut when it comes to talent acquisition? We at Crystal Recruitment make it our business to find the right talent for your company as we are a leading Recruitment Agency in Kenya. Talk to us today and let us help you find the right talent.

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