The news that, as of today (April 6), employers can no longer issue notices of intended retirement date, ahead of the change in legislation in October abolishing the default retirement age, is not without its problems.
The legal requirement creates a new need to balance compliance with compassion and sensitivity with succession planning. If retirement is no longer a given at a certain point, how can employers make timely plans to recruit and train up replacement personnel? How do they broach the subject of retirement with older employees and, crucially, how do they manage employee performance to ensure optimum results regardless of age?
A legal expert addresses these thorny issues in DIY Week, out on Friday (April 8). However, it does prompt the question, when it comes to retail, just how much of an issue is age? It seems to me that in actual fact, retail is a perfect fit for the more mature end of the employment market.
From an employee perspective it's an attractive sector. It allows for flexible working hours, so is ideally-suited to employees whose needs may change as they age. And, it offers local employment to workers who may be less inclined to face a long daily commute - therefore also ensuring a workforce with great local knowledge.
Retail is a sector that values and relies on knowledge and experience. Therefore, employers that allow or encourage long-term members of staff to carry on working past the age of 65, whether at a reduced number of hours or not, retain a valuable resource within their business.
This is particularly true in the home improvement and garden sectors, where there is a clear generational knowledge gap. Hire an 18-year-old and its likely you'll have to tell him which end of a hammer to hold; hire a 65-year-old and he'll tell you how a Warrington hammer differs from a claw hammer, and from a sledge hammer, and from a ball pein hammer, and from a club hammer - and which one you want for a particular job.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, it's an industry where relationships are crucial. Your staff are a reflection of your business. The relationships they build over time with your customers should be one of the most valuable assets your business has, and therefore, one of the strongest arguments for favouring retention over retirement.
6 April 2011 | 09:49 |