Recruitment: How to attract and retain mature-aged workers

Beef Central, 28/05/2015

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THERE are a multitude of benefits when hiring a mature-aged job candidate, yet many employers in the meat and livestock supply chain may be discouraging this key demographic from joining their ranks without even realising it.

Many agricultural industries find it difficult to attract and retain qualified workers, so it makes sense for employers to widen their candidate search to include mature job-seekers who can help fill skill shortages whilst bringing a vast amount of experience to the job.

Dedication and loyalty are both key attributes that every employer looks for.

However for those in the meat and livestock industries, finding an employee who can bring extra experience and maturity to the role is an extra bonus.

Evidence has also shown older workers can deliver a higher average net benefit to their employer (a result of increased retention), save employers money due to lower rates of absenteeism, give their employer greater investment returns on training, as well as staying with an employer on average twice as long as their younger colleagues.

Yet some employers may be discouraging this candidate pool from even applying for jobs without knowing it.

While it is unlawful in Australia to disadvantage employees and job seekers in any way because of their age, employers could also be missing out on workers who can fill knowledge gaps in the workplace and provide mentoring to less experienced employees by excluding mature-aged workers.

So how can an employer make sure they are not discouraging this key demographic of job-seekers from joining their ranks?


  • Be sure to use age-friendly recruitment tactics. Language used in job ads can be discouraging, for example when describing a workforce as ‘young’ or ‘dynamic’. Be aware of the attitudes of those doing the hiring (it may even be yourself) to make sure candidates are selected based on skill-sets rather than age.
  • Widen your job search channels. Don’t just rely on one source to advertise. Many older job-seekers in the beef industry may look for jobs in newspapers rather than online, so consider placing recruitment ads in print as well as online – even though you might think it a quaint idea. The wider your search, the more diverse a candidate pool you’ll be likely to get.
  • Focus on skills when hiring. Make sure during the interview process that questions focus on certain skills required for the job. Ask every candidate the same questions and make a decision based on the candidate most suitable for the role.
  • Provide training and upskilling opportunities. Many mature-aged workers welcome the chance to upskill. By providing ongoing training, employers will not only benefit the business but also appeal to an older worker’s strong desire for job satisfaction.
  • Offer flexible working arrangements. Some mature-aged workers may welcome the chance to juggle family and work commitments, so offering flexible working hours could be a big incentive. Flexible work options can also accommodate caring responsibilities, health issues or a desire for a different work/life balance.

Mature-aged workers value job security and are known to be loyal workers, so for rural businesses struggling with high turnover, it is a talent pool to consider.

In the next decade as the country’s population ages, there will be less young people entering the rural workforce and a greater number of older workers staying in it, so a business that welcomes older workers will be seen as a more attractive employer to a growing proportion of the workforce.


Source: AWX Group – Partners in People.





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