Biological time is a state of mind, and senior chartered accountants continue to be as skilled and as discerning as they were in their middle years. They continue to learn, to assess and to affect discriminating judgements. Employers need to realise that such professionals want to continue making a meaningful contribution to a business.
The demographic of our workforce is also changing with older employees growing in number. Corporates must take this in to account when it comes to their manpower planning initiatives. For example B & Q were the first British organisation to adopt an active over 50s recruitment policy. Now one quarter of their workforce is over 50 and they also have no fixed retirement age in place. The organisation has benefited in a number of ways including increased productivity and reduced absentee and staff turnover levels.
Now more than ever organisations must be strategic about their recruitment decisions. In a market where costs are under constant scrutiny and resources are stretched, organisations can't afford to make a wrong recruitment decision. Such an error can cost a significant amount of money and time. Prospective employers must consider the long term implications of a hire to the business. It is crucial that the person is the right fit for the organisation and can make an impact in the role.
Organisations must be open minded when it comes to their recruitment process and realise that everyone, irrespective of their age, has something to bring to an organisation. Diversity is healthy. Having a more diverse workforce which includes a range of ages, experience, disciplines and cultures can assist an organisation enormously. It can bring a new perspective, challenge the status quo and act a stimulus for new initiatives.
Obviously younger finance professionals can have the same technical skills, knowledge and competencies as their older counterparts. However mature employees can offer other skills and real life work experience and perspectives that their younger counterparts can't.
The following are the benefits of hiring a mature candidate:
Mature employees bring with them 'Experience' in the broadest sense of the word - life experience. This can be a huge advantage in the current environment as organisations need employees who have experienced the ups and downs of the commercial world. Typically the real challenges are presented during an economic downturn and this can be a true test of a candidate's capabilities. If an employee has a track record of achieving in these situations they are more likely to do so again. This 'experience' is likely to result in higher levels of self confidence which in turn can instil confidence in those around them making it easier for them to manage and motivate a team. This is a huge benefit in a climate where financial rewards are not available to use as a motivational tool.
Michael D Higgins our newly elected President is 70.
Experience means that a person is less likely to be 'rattled' by a challenging scenario. Mature candidates can be better equipped to make decisions, understanding the implications and consequences of decisions taken. As a result of this higher level of emotional intelligence, mature employees have the ability to make objective decisions and possess strong judgement skills.
Ken Whitaker (94) Irish economist and former public servant is still regularly consulted for his views on Irish economic issues.
Mature candidates bring with them a great propensity for loyalty and pride in a job well done. This was instilled in their traditional upbringing. 'A fair day's work for a fair day's pay' was often the mantra used. During this time the culture was also based on 'a job for life' and generally employees did not move jobs as frequently. Therefore, by recruiting a mature candidate you could be gaining an employee with a strong work ethic who will remain committed to the role and the organisation for the long term.
High levels of motivation
If a candidate has been out of work for some time and is then offered a role the sense of gratitude that they feel for having a job can reinforce loyalty to the organisation. They will have a vested interest in making the role work as they realise how difficult it can be to find such an opportunity again in the current environment.
A track record of successfully transitioning experience and competencies is a huge advantage to an organisation. Employees with greater levels of experience tend to hit the ground running, making a more immediate impact in a role. This will result in a less costly induction process and a quicker return on investment for an employer.
Often senior finance professionals will feel subliminal pressure from more junior staff to lead by example and to do a good job. Levels of efficiency and productivity can benefit accordingly.
Act as mentors
Based on the wealth of experience and empathy mature employees bring to a role they can competently act as mentors to more junior staff members. Levels of intellectual capital and business acumen will increase as a result. The mentors lead by example and impart learning and experiences in doing so. Beneficial symbiotic relationships developed in this way contribute to the success and bottom line of a business.
Chartered Accountants Ireland operates a Mentor Programme through which many members have benefited from the insights, experiences and knowledge of their more senior fellow members. This in turn has been of benefit to employers.
Feargal Quinn (75) still has a hectic schedule acting as a mentor to Irish SMEs as well as being a businessman, television personality and an independent member of Seanad Éireann.
Improved communication levels
Maturity often leads to higher levels of emotional intelligence. This is a huge advantage when it comes to communicating in the business world. Understanding the intricacies of organisations, cultures, politics and personalities can be a great tool and can increase the effectiveness of communications. It can help in terms of influencing the decision making process and building strong and profitable business relationships.
Garrett Fitzgerald (85) continued to make a huge contribution to Ireland right up to the time of his death earlier this year. President Mary Mc Aleese described him as 'a man steeped in the history of the State who constantly strove to make Ireland a better place for all its people'.
Over the course of their career mature candidates will have developed a strong network of specialist contacts. This can be of significant benefit to an organisation. Networking is a crucial part of business today and any additional introductions a business can access can prove to be very lucrative.
Laurence Crowley (FCA) (74) whose directorship days have seen him sit on boards as diverse as PJ Carroll, Aer Lingus, Elan, Bord Gáis, Realex, the ESRI, the Gate Theatre and the Smurfit Business School, as well as Bank of Ireland.
Strong technical knowhow, not just from a theoretical perspective but also a comprehensive appreciation of the practical applications and implications, are skills that one can only develop over time. This skillset adds significantly to the intellectual capital within an organisation. Consequently a business with this in-house advantage will not need to spend money on buying in additional expertise.
Each organisation has a need for employees who are dependable, loyal, trustworthy, motivated and mature. To attract and recruit such a valuable resource, employers need to be creative and 'look outside the box' when recruiting. They should recognise the business benefits of experience and maturity. There are certainly advantages to recruiting what on paper may be an over experienced candidate for a role. That person may not only deliver on requirements but may also develop the function into something ultimately much more valuable.