More than 165,000 workers over 50 have joined the hospitality sector in the last three years, according to a new report from industry recruitment platform Caterer.com.
The report reveals that people over 50 now make up over a third (34%) of the sector’s workforce. This proportion is up 14% on February 2020 levels.
More than four in five (84%) hospitality businesses have introduced age diverse policies and benefits to improve their proposition for this demographic, ranging from re-entry or returner programmes (49%), age inclusive diversity and inclusion training for all staff (23%) through to flexible scheduling to accommodate individual needs (21%).
With sustained labour shortages, the report shows how the sector has been quick to adapt to attract previously untapped talent pools. Age diversity is the top priority for hospitality employers when it comes to improving the diversity, equity, and inclusion of their workforce and the vast majority (77%) of hospitality employers say over 50s are important in solving the sector’s labour shortages.
Fuller’s, The Wolseley Hospitality Group and Compass Group are amongst those organisations leading the way in building age diverse workforces and attracting over 50s talent.
Four in five (72%) hospitality employers agree that the cost-of-living crisis is inspiring more people over the age of 50 to take on new jobs to boost their income. However, nearly 3m people over 50 in the UK would consider a job in the hospitality industry, and the most common drivers for this go well beyond financial reasons. The sector provides this age demographic with opportunities to keep physically active and build social connections, with job roles to suit almost any schedule.
The most common reasons over 50s might be considering a hospitality job are:
- To make people happy (32%)
- To supplement pension (29%)
- To fill my free time and/or to avoid boredom (25%)
- For the social benefits/social workplace culture (25%)
- To keep active/for fitness benefits (20%)
Over 50s bringing valuable skills
The report highlights the value workers over 50 can bring to hospitality venues, and how this demographic can improve businesses’ productivity.
Two in five (39%) hospitality businesses recognise that employees over the age of 50 can bring better customer experience skills to a role compared to any other age group. Other skills that over 50’s bring that are unrivalled by other age groups include strong work ethic (37%), problem solving (35%), business knowledge (33%) and the ability to remain calm in difficult situations (31%).
Decision makers have also noted enhanced experience level within the workforce (43%), improved skill diversity (40%) and improved employee retention (39%) as a result of having an age diverse workplace.
Kathy Dyball, Director at Caterer.com, commented: “We know that age diversity is a top priority for hospitality employers when it comes to improving the diversity, equity and inclusion of their workforce. Hospitality businesses are paving the way for other sectors with the introduction of truly age diverse policies and hiring approaches, and the rewards are clear to see. This is a strong and innovative sector and employers within it continue to evolve in order to succeed, despite the many challenges of the current trading environment.
“Employees over 50 offer a wealth of experience and transferrable skills, which enhance the overall customer experience and foster a positive workplace culture. With the UK experiencing an ageing population, and the hospitality sector still seeking to fill 118,000 open vacancies (ONS), this growing talent pool is a clear and ready source of new hires and the team at Caterer.com work closely with customers every day to help them attract and retain them.”
Tracy Riddell, Senior Programme Manager for Age-friendly Employment at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “It is really encouraging to see so many hospitality employers making a commitment to age-inclusive practices and policies. The growth in the number of older workers over the past three years demonstrates a level of commitment by employers to the recruitment and retention of workers in their 50s and 60s that will better support this sector, filling crucial vacancy gaps.
“Going forward, we want age-diversity practice becoming common practice industry-wide. Any employers who want to become more age-diverse will find support and information through signing up to our Age-friendly Employer Pledge. They will be joining more than 230 other organisations and companies, including Joseph Holt, Compass Group and Imperial London Hotels, which have signed up within the programme’s first year.”