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How to create an age-diverse workforce in the third sector

Annie Hayes at Third Sector Jobs shares tips on how to recruit and retain a workforce within the third sector that champions employees of all ages.


Reshaping career opportunities within the third sector to attract and retain both older and younger volunteers and employees is the key to ensuring that charities and non-profit organisations build age-diverse workforces that appropriately reflect the communities they exist to serve.

By 2033, nearly a quarter of the UK population will be aged 65 or over. This reinforces the importance of building HR practices that acknowledge a new workforce in which young and old work alongside each other and learn from one another.

Here are some steps you can take to help create a more age-diverse workforce:

Living the message: Eliminating age-based limits starts with looking at the conscious or unconscious decisions that are being made about the people and causes the charities and voluntary organisations set out to serve. Are there age barriers that are outdated or no longer defensible? To encourage a workforce that is spread across the ages it is important that charities can tell their story about championing age diversity within the causes they support.

Equality monitoring: Workforces vary in numbers and it is vital to have clear data to inform HR practices. Information can help identify current and future needs as well as ensure that the views of young, middle-aged and older workers are consistently and fairly reflected.

Building appropriate rewards: To attract and keep an age-diverse workforce it is important that the rewards are tailored to the age groups. Young and old may all value working from home opportunities as well as career development and training. For many that work within the third sector, the unifying reason that they work for their charity is the identification with the cause it represents. Celebrating successes and storytelling is an important part of retention within the sector as well as reaching fundraising goals. For many, whatever their age, this is a good way for everyone to feel valued.

Screening recruitment language: Ensure that your practices don’t exclude any generation and preclude new entrants, mid-lifers or older workers. Is recruitment literature unfairly biased towards a particular generation? Is experience necessary and are transferable skills equally valued?

Solve problems and trigger innovation by championing age-diversity: Working parties that comprise age-mixed professionals can help solve complex issues by bringing together intergenerational ideas, creativity, skills and experiences. This can be a positive strategy for third sector organisations looking to progress and push the causes they represent forward.

Freshening up the brand: Charities and voluntary organisations cannot sit on their heels. If they are to appeal to an age-diverse workforce they must continuously monitor the brand and make decisions on whether it is up to date, not only with the cause but also the external environment.

Using these strategies, the third sector can ensure it evolves with the times and builds a cross-generational workforce of volunteers and employees that appropriately reflect the vital causes they exist to serve.

Talk to us about how Third Sector Jobs can help you build and communicate your employer brand or recruitment marketing to the charity sector. Email Joe Edmonds to discuss your needs and bespoke special packages.

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