Small Business Network

The Small Business Age Diversity Network

CROW is joining forces with the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, Scottish Centre for Healthy Working Lives an the Scottish Chambers of Commerce to develop a network of businesses, intermediary groups and other stakeholders to look at the support which small employers need from public, private and third sector stakeholders in creating sustainable quality work environments which can facilitate extended working lives.

Most older workers are employed in SMEs: half of those 50-64 and two-thirds of those over 65 work for small employers . These figures rise to 86% and 94% when medium sized organisations are included. However, most of the research on extended working life has focused on large and public sector organisations.

SMEs are not large firms in microcosm and a combination of a personalised management style, less ability to control external environmental influences, combined with typically tight resource constraints affect their capacity to manage big personnel issues like ageing workforces. On the other hand, small businesses often come up with the most innovative ways to manage work and retirement, and older workers can benefit from the close relationships they have with their employers.

Because few small businesses have dedicated human resource managers, they rely on organisations like their local chambers of commerce to keep them informed about the law, good practice and approaches to managing staff. Small businesses also rely on one another to share ideas.

Over the next few weeks, we would like to talk with small businesses, intermediaries, and other stakeholders on how small businesses manage age and the support they need in order to do so as effectively as possible. Through our networks, we’ll be asking you five key questions:

1) Do small businesses manage older workers better? Why do so many older workers choose to work for small firms?

2) Can older workers benefit small businesses? Is the older workforce an “untapped” source of skills and knowledge?

3) If you run a small business, do you have an “ageing workforce” issue, such as an older employee who would like to delay retirement? What questions or ideas do you have on how to manage the issue?

4) If you run a small business, have you ever managed an “ageing workforce” issue? How did you solve the problem? What difficulties did you encounter?

5) What support could organisations like CROW, HWL, Chambers of Commerce and CIPD provide small businesses in meeting the age challenge?

We will be conducting our survey using our Twitter and Facebook networks. We will also be periodically updating you on our findings.

In the meantime, if you are interested in learning more about age diversity good practice, check out our good practice guides which can be found under publications.