It’s said with age comes wisdom and for most owners of small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Canada, the sentiment is ringing true. Recent research from the Investors Group found that 96 percent of SME owners agree that workers 65 years and older offer more valuable experience and expertise than younger workers. Sixty-nine percent contend that this group is not more expensive to employ.
As well, the majority of small business owners do not have concerns about lack of stamina and reduced productivity from older workers. Eighty-five percent say that workers 65 years and older are just as productive as younger workers and 79 percent concur that senior workers have the required level of energy and ambition for their jobs.
“As more boomers and seniors continue working in their later years, it’s encouraging to see that their value and contribution to the workplace are acknowledged by Canada’s small business owners,” said a statement from Dave Ablett, Director, Tax and Estate Planning at Investors Group. “At the same time, finding work in later years will require thinking outside the box and a sound retirement plan to ease the transition into a new phase of life.”
Seventeen percent of small business owners say at least one-tenth of their workforce is 65 or older; approximately four-in-ten (43 percent) business owners expect ten percent or more of their employees to retire in the next five years.
Despite the accolades, small business owners aren’t predisposed to put this demographic on the payroll as new workers. The study reveals that while 31 per cent of small business owners currently have employment opportunities within their organizations, most (79 percent) believe it’s not likely that the position will be filled by someone older than 65 now, or in the future (64 percent).
Half (51 percent) the survey respondents also concede health issues are more likely to affect the attendance or job performance of workers who are seniors. Fifty-five per cent believe they are not as technologically adept as younger workers.
Recognizing that some accommodations may be in order, small business owners appear to be considering a number of viable work options for older workers. Many of the small business owners surveyed said they already offer, or are agreeable to implementing, a number of workplace adjustments including: part-time employment (65 percent); specific project work (43 percent), contract or consulting work (35 percent), working from home (25 percent) and job sharing (23 percent).
“Whether it is a second career or a phased-in-retirement, flexibility is key to retaining and even acquiring older talent and enabling them to add value to the business as they continue to pursue their career interests,” said Ablett.