Midlife workers could “shift the face” of the hospitality industry, as industry “boomerangs” could help plug the sector’s labour shortage while also meeting consumer demand for workers over 50, new research reveals.
The research, conducted by the UK’s largest hospitality jobs board, Caterer.com, revealed that 2.5 million people over 50 are interested in moving into the hospitality industry while almost half of the population (45%) say they’ve worked in the sector at some point in their lives.
The demographic presents a “potentially abundant” talent pool for hospitality employers – almost a third (30%) of workers over 50 are looking for a career change and when considering career options hospitality is the most popular choice for a career move.
The survey of more than 4,250 consumers and hospitality employees shows that over 50s workers have the potential to deliver strong business results for restaurants, bars and hotels by improving customer experience and loyalty.
One in four (25%) consumers say they would trust over 50s hospitality workers to take their order and payment more than their under 50 counterparts, while 38% would be more comfortable if a hospitality worker over 50 handled their complaint or assisted in a crisis.
The research also reveals why the hospitality industry is a top pick for over 50s workers, including flexible shift patterns, strong social engagement and positive workplace culture.
With keeping active proven to be an important factor in ageing better, almost half (48%) of people say working in the sector is a great way to achieve this. A further quarter (25%) of over 50s workers say the salary and tips available in hospitality jobs are appealing.
Neil Pattison, director at Caterer.com, said: “Our research shows that older workers are among the most valued demographics in the hospitality industry with many customers placing greater trust and confidence in them.
“The hospitality workforce is set to be heavily impacted by the government’s new proposed immigration rules, so many employers are actively reaching new talent pools to find the people they want to hire. Older workers are one such valuable group. It’s key that employers challenge the stigma that might be associated with age and nurture progressive attraction and retention strategies that look beyond traditional hiring habits.”
Patrick Thomson, senior programme manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “With fewer young people entering the workforce and over-50s currently making up nearly a third of all workers, it’s clear that older workers are not just the workforce of the future but of today.
“With many employers worried about skill shortages in the wake of new immigration plans, it’s vital that employers in industries like hospitality are able to make the most of the talent and experience the over-50s can bring to the workplace.”
He added: “There’s plenty employers can do to ensure they aren’t missing out. Hiring age-positively can bring in a diverse workforce – this includes advertising in a way that attracts the widest pool of candidates.
“Flexible working is crucial to supporting those with health needs or caring responsibilities to stay in work. And making training and progression available to employees at all ages is good for retention, making workers feel valued in the workplace.”