Ten of the best

Yorkshire Water

Sector: Utility

Number of employees: 2,200

Demographic breakdown: The average age of employees is 41. The age range of new external recruits in 2003 was 16-61.

Mike Smith, HR director, says: “Our commitment to age diversity reflects our diverse customer base – we supply 1.7 million households in Yorkshire. It also reinforces our corporate values of respect, responsibility, resourcefulness and teamwork, which apply to our approach both as an employer and as a service provider.”

Bridgend County Borough Council

Sector: Local authority

Number of employees: 7,500

Demographic breakdown: The average age of employees is 41; the youngest employee is just 15, and the oldest is aged 83.

Neil Lodwick, assistant director for HR, says: “We’re the first local authority in Wales to receive Age Positive champion status. Age Positive Cymru awards champion status to organisations that are committed to tackling age discrimination in the workplace, while demonstrating that they are taking practical steps to change employment practices towards overcoming discrimination. We hope we can inspire other organisations to follow our lead.”

Barclays

Sector: Global financial services provider

Number of employees: 76,200 worldwide, 58,900 in the UK

Demographic breakdown: The majority of Barclays employees are aged between 31 and 45, but the provider employs more people over 50 than under 21.

Barclays won the Personnel Today Age Positive at Work Award in 2003.

David Weymouth, group age champion and CIO, says: “We respect and value people from all backgrounds. Age is the one aspect of the diversity agenda that we all experience. As a winner of Age Positive awards in 2003 and 2004, we are creating a framework of policy, practice and pension, shifting our culture to one where employees of all ages are recruited, valued and retained on their merit and the contribution they make to the business.”

B&Q

Sector: Home improvement retailer

Number of employees: 36,000

Demographic breakdown: More than 21 per cent of B&Q’s staff are aged 50 or over.

Mike Cutt, HR director, says: “We recruit the best person for the job, and the knowledge and attitude of our older workers contributes greatly to the quality of service we can offer customers.”

Hunters Property Group

Sector: Property services

Number of employees: 170

Demographic breakdown: The age range of staff spans from 17 to 73. A total of 20 per cent of new recruits are aged over 50.

Glynis Frew, HR director, says: “All our staff, regardless of age, share two things: get-up-and-go and great communication skills. We have achieved this through our recruitment process and through adopting changes such as job-share and flexible working. To get the best person for the job, you need to think results, because when you do that you find a way of making it work. Age diversity has most definitely worked for us.”

Thomas Cook UK & Ireland

Sector: Travel and tourism

Number of employees: 11,000

Demographic breakdown: A total of 6 per cent of the total workforce is aged over 50, 15 per cent are aged over 41, 23 per cent are aged 31-40 and 56 per cent fall in the 16-30 age bracket.

Manny Fontela-Novoa, chief executive, says: “Among our top sellers, 20 per cent work part-time and 32 per cent are over 50. That’s why we are looking to offer further opportunities to mothers and older workers. Our customers can really relate to them. With our new flexible work conditions, there has never been a better time to join, or rejoin, Thomas Cook.”

Norfolk Constabulary

Sector: Police

Number of employees: 1,541 officers, 1,168 members of police staff and 249 special constables

Demographic breakdown: The average age of all staff is 42, with the average age of traffic wardens standing at 50. The youngest member of staff is 17 and the oldest is 70.

Sharon Michlmayr, director of HR, says: “We’re proud that Norfolk Constabulary is included in the top 10 employers recognised for being positive about age. Removing age as a barrier has meant that we can tap into the widest pool of talent. In particular, more mature employees bring considerable experience and knowledge to the force.”

Newham College of Further Education

Sector: Further education

Number of employees: Around 500

Demographic breakdown: The average age of staff is 42. Employees aged over 50 make up over 30 per cent of the workforce.

Christine Freestone, HR director, says: “The college is committed to ensuring that no job applicant or employee is discriminated against on the grounds of age. The main benefit of being age positive is that we are not restricting ourselves from employing different age groups by putting up barriers and missing out on experience, knowledge and the possibility of improving the performance of the college.”

Rachel’s Dairy

Sector: Food manufacturing

Number of employees: 104

Demographic breakdown: The majority of employees are aged 35-44, with 24 employees aged under 25 and 10 employees aged over 54.

Phil Evans, HR manager, says: “There are proven advantages in having a recruitment policy that does not discriminate on age at either end of the spectrum. Focusing on employing a wide diversity of age groups in all skill groups has allowed us to develop strong teams with mature and responsible attitudes that contribute to increased productivity and reduced absenteeism.”

London & Quadrant Housing Trust

Sector: Charity/social housing

Number of employees: 650

Demographic breakdown: A total of 16 per cent of the workforce is aged under 25 and 27 per cent of employees are aged over 50.

Sally Jacobson, group director, says: “The benefits of having a positive approach to age diversity cannot be underestimated. There are measurable benefits in terms of our ability to attract and retain talent, helping us become the housing employer of choice. We have reduced staff turnover by 20 per cent to 11.2 per cent during the last two years in one of our most difficult areas to recruit, and sickness absence is at 2.5 per cent.

To find out more about Personnel Today’s Age Positive at Work Award, GO TO www.personneltodayawards.com


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