Recruitment and retention: Employers act before age discrimination rules are enforced

The impact of the forthcoming age discrimination rules was apparent in the results of this year’s recruitment, retention and turnover survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development.

A staggering 70% of the 804 organisations surveyed said they were actively seeking to recruit people over 55, and 74% said that 16- to 24-year-olds were on their recruitment radar. The reasons for targeting different age groups were also positive with 70% saying that the main business driver was overcoming recruitment difficulties and skill shortages.

According to the report’s author Nicola Monson, this shows positive steps are being prepared for the new rules, which come into force in October 2006. “Employers need to fully embrace age diversity and these results show progress is being made. Employers are recognising the need to widen up their talent pool to fill vacancies and tackle discrimination,” she says.

Culture change

However, Pamela Parkes, the equality and diversity lead at the Public Sector People Managers’ Association, says a bigger hurdle will be shifting the culture in organisations. “The challenge will be the reality of addressing inherent custom and practice, such as the treatment of older workers in getting fair access to training and development.

“Also important will be access for younger employees to promotion based on merit instead of time served and having a flexible approach to diminishing performance and not ‘managing out’ through forced early retirement,” she says.

Online recruitment

For the first time in five years, this year’s survey asked respondents for their attitudes towards online recruitment. Almost two-thirds of organisations used technology to aid recruitment and 47% strongly agreed that e-recruitment would replace paper-based applications in the future. However, almost half of respondents said online recruitment is also increasing the number of unsuitable applications.

Monson says that unless this is addressed, e-recruitment would continue to cause headaches for HR. “Employers are finding e-recruitment beneficial – it is speeding up applications, especially from overseas, and reducing cost. But unfortunately online processes seem to be increasing HR’s workload in some cases.

“E-recruitment needs to enhance the overall recruitment process if employers are to reap the full benefits. HR should make sure they use a range of different recruitment methods to support it.”

The survey revealed a slight decrease in the number of organisations experiencing overall recruitment difficulties – down from 85% in 2005 to 82%. A lack of the necessary specialist skills was cited by 68% of employers as the key reason for these problems, while provision of additional training to allow internal staff to fill posts had the most impact for 58% of respondents.

On a positive note, retention figures improved with 69% reporting problems compared to 73% the previous year. Almost half of respondents said they had improved induction processes and 45% said they had increased learning and development opportunities.

Main findings

  • 70% of employers are actively seeking to recruit people over 55

  • 74% are trying to recruit 16- to 24-year-olds

  • 64% are using technology to aid recruitment process

  • 47% are seeing an increase in unsuitable online applications

  • 82% are experiencing recruitment problems

  • 69% are reporting retention problems

  • Labour turnover is increasing at 18.3%

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