· Features

Over-50s have a lot to offer

Current economic uncertainty may be leading many retirement-age workers to consider continuing in employment. This can only be good news for employers.

I suggest more employers look at the benefits that an older, more mature workforce can bring to a business. Older staff tend to want to work hard and take great pride in their work. They are also less likely to take a career break or have long periods of time off work.
Many employers might think that older staff are ready to slow down in the workplace or more likely to have time off sick, but I have found this not to be the case and in fact quite the opposite. Older workers are still ambitious and we encourage them to use their skills and experience by acting as mentors and passing on their knowledge to our younger employees.

At Pimlico we take age seriously. The firm recognises older workers will form an increasing percentage of the working population in years to come so it's in our own interests to make the most of the skills and experience of all our workers, regardless of their age.
The over-50s make up 20% of our workforce and that not only includes employees who have worked their way up through the ranks but also those who have decided to join us for a new challenge in later life.

For example, Mario Rebellato is 67 and joined the company in August 2006. Mario was working for the then deputy prime minister, John Prescott, and was due for retirement at 65. He had seen an article two months earlier about Buster Martin (102 years old) being employed to valet Pimlico vehicles and was impressed with the firm's attitude towards older employees. He wrote to offer his services as Buster's understudy and, after interviewing him, I offered him the job as my personal assistant.

Two years down the line Mario is an established member of staff here, valued and respected by his colleagues. He says his key to success with the company is that he brings with him 50 years of work experience and this can help him stand back and assess situations and be flexible in his approach to work.

This knowledge can be passed onto his younger colleagues who sometimes can be a little too impulsive.
Over the past two years, staff retention in the over-50s age group at Pimlico has been high and the majority of that group is with us for the long haul. As a business, we benefit from the experience, flexibility, reliability and the loyalty the older employees bring. In return we continue to review and develop our HR planning to ensure we are managing people effectively.
The key to successfully employing older workers is to understand employer/employee relationships and that older employees want the same things from their employer as younger staff. They still need development, training and flexibility in the workplace.
But there is no big secret or winning formula, it is just about challenging stereotypes about older people at work and being positive about age. The way we treat people through all stages of their time with Pimlico is important - from recruitment through to retirement.

Charlie Mullins is managing director of Pimlico Plumbers