What age range are the best to employ and why?

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Dixons Store Group

What age range are the best to employ and why?
I am a student and doing some research on what people are best to employ in call centres, I would say students as they:

+ Have advance technolgical skills
+ Are more adaptable to change
+ Are flexible; are able to work Peak periods
+ Work for lower pay
- High attrition rate
- Tend to have more sick days

Older People I would assume are the opposite?

What would you say?



Older People I would assume are the opposite? What would you say?

I would say you are being assumptive and prejudicial but then I'm blunt. I would say where is the analysis to back up your conclusions?

Ageism is a form of discrimination that can affect anybody, regardless of how old they are. Most often it works in favour of people aged 25-35 and reduces employment prospects for older people, women returners and younger workers.
It can prevent applicants who have the skills, abilities and potential required by employers from getting a job.
It can prevent in employers from hiring the best (and potentially, the most productive) applicants.

• The UK labour market will soon contain more people aged over 40 than people aged under 40.
• Absenteeism rates vary little between age groups.
• Older workers stay in their jobs longer than younger people.
• Research shows that older people are as capable of learning new skills as younger people.
• Over-targeting of particular age groups by groups on employers can lead to inflated labour costs.
• Many employers are already tackling age discrimination to keep ahead of competitors.
• Public support is growing for the introduction of age discrimination laws.

There is no law against age discrimination in employment in the UK, but EU employment directive requires the introduction of legislation to outlaw it by 2006. The government has already started the process with the "Towards Equality and Diversity" consultation. Further consultation is planned for 2003 - details can be found on Department of Trade and Industry web site (www.dti.gov.uk/er/equality/index.htm).
Nonetheless, some workers discriminated against because of their age may be able to take legal action. If statistical evidence shows that age criteria result in men and women being treated differently, employees can claim indirect sex discrimination under the Sex Discrimination Act of 1975.

In June 1999 the government published a voluntary code of practice. An updated version of the code is available from the Age Positive web site (www.agepositive.gov.uk).

One third of employers are aware the voluntary code and the use of age-based criteria in recruitment has halved since July 1999. Threequarters of new equal opportunities policies now refer to age.

Tackling age discrimination
The voluntary code sets out guidelines for good recruitment practice to prevent ageism. It says job adverts should:

• avoid giving age limits or ranges, and should not include phrases such as "young graduates", "mature person" or "according to age and experience";
• ask for relevant experience, skills and ability, rather than insisting on particular qualifications;
• appear in a range of media in order to reach different age groups.

Application forms should ask only for job-related information.

Since 1996 People Management - the HR bible magazine - has declined to publish any job advertisement that includes age limits. Its "Banish the Age Barrier" campaign made it the first mainstream publication in the UK to take this step.

Age Concern (www.ageconcern.org.uk)
"The largest charitable movement in the UK concerned with the needs and aspirations of older people and the leading authority on ageing-related issues."

Age Positive (www.agepositive.gov.uk)
Government-run web site dedicated to combatting ageism and with many useful facts, figures and links. "Focus on potential, skills and ability... not age".

Employers Forum on Age (www.efa.org.uk)
Employer group with more than 150 members providing "expertise on age issues and an authoritative insight into the attitudes, policy and practice of UK employers".

Employers' Organisation for local government (www.lg-employers.gov.uk)
"Supports local authorities in their HR role, providing expert advice and information on people management and development in local government, and leading the formulation of policy on employer issues."

The best people to employ in call centres are those that exceed the skills and competencies that you are recruiting for in the job descriptions.

Take Care

Contact Centre Manager


Age range differences
Prolog have recently completed and published a research paper which looked at our own empirical results, published research and work psychology research. The results examined the lifecycle of agents from initial assessment, induction training and on the job performance. We found that there were significant differences in the initial AVERAGE aptitude assessments between the sexes, age groups, people with different educational and career backgrounds. The research found that all groups can make strong contributions with the biggest opportunity being in the older age groups - particularly in the area of customer service. We found evidence of the value of life experience.

Although after lengthy induction training all groups appeared to perform similarly in terms of soft skills call quality assessments, call durations, number of calls handled etc.

Closed is absolutely right about the ageing population. We believe that there is a developing generation gap between caller and agent which needs to be addressed in the recruitment processes. Traditional recruitment methods can exclude prime candidates by demanding keyboard skills of people retraining from other careers. By matching agent segments to caller segments we believe that it is possible to get measurable improvements in call outcomes particularly in customer service - we are now researching in this area.

Finally, I would reiterate that the findings are averages. We interpret the results as endorsing the view of recruiting from a much wider base because after training - virtually all backgrounds can become skilled call centre professionals rather than an endorsement for pinpointing a small sector of the labour market.



The value of experience
B&Q do an excellent job in bridging the gap and value the experience an older workforce has to give novices started in the world of DIY.
No doubt, there's an argument that says they would also be the best workers in a DIY call centre or an advice call centre, where life experirnce and maturity is valuable (in a non-discrimatory capacity obviously).

WFM & Business Telephony Manager

Healthcare Insurance

Age and the modern call center
Try here for a recent article in Call Center focus regarding
using the older generation in a modern center

(Mind you I'm in the 'transition' stage at the moment.
More of a Summer Penguin (Going white & Feeling the cold)
than a Spring Chicken)

Telecom/Reporting Analyst

Outsource callcenter

Age of Employees
Here we tend to scout for different age groups for different types of clients we support. We have an odd assortment of clients, and here is the agent makeup (which usually echos the customer makeup):

Sales:Vitamins: Tend to be an older crowd.
Tech:Music Download Service: Tends to be a younger, more tech savvy crowd.
Sales:National Newspaper: Mixed.
Tech:Cameras: Mixed
CS:Mortgage: Slightly older crowd.
Tech:Memory Devices: Young techies.
Sales:Health Insurance: Slightly older to older crowd.
CS:Cell Phones: Younger agents

In most instances the agent echos the customer age topology. This is not really done on purpose (If we had a 60 year old techie come in to do music downloads, that would be cool), but we find that agents with an interest in the product stay longer and enjoy it more.


Performance Counselor

Sinja Masterstrokes

What age range are the best to employ and why?

I happened to see your query on call centres adding value to organisations and was wondering about the structure of the question and came across this query where you have said that you are a researcher.

You have a whole range of replies here but I guess if you are serious about the research factor you should pay a little more attention to Closed's response, Paul's follow through, Dave's reference and Marian's Note. I guess it was the same factor that caused them to respond.

Suffice it to say that age by itself cannot be a factor - and a Client Organisation may be very sensitive about who to recruit because their image and business would depend upon the impact created upon the Customers and Prospective Customers.

While saying "students" you have not mentioned the age range - Is that a googly?

All other skillsets required for the job being equal, factors like the reduced cost factor , age factor etc., may come into play and as it would very interesting if you could take it upon yourself to go into the critical factors for the various Call Centre Agent Assignments.

All the best in your research.



4 varying questions all involving research and dissertations. Are we writing your whole thesis for you??

(wink wink)

Not a lot to add
But will say that Marianne brought up a very good point. Namely, very fresh graduates would not likely prosper going to work for a funeral home. By the same logic, most 50 year old staffers would not make a good sales rep for a hip-hop record company.

In the US, we are prohibited by law from age discrimination but as a practical matter most people only apply for "age approprate" positions to begin with.

Worth noting, typically we see less turnover for older people. But bad employees come in all ages, sizes, colors and backgrounds, just like the good ones...

Steve Howell



UK Age Discrimination Legislation 2006
I was wondering what steps any UK subscribers had made to deal with the incoming Age Discrimination Laws.

How will you be making your call centre more friendly towards older staff?
How will you be combatting ageism within a predominently under 25yr old workforce?

For me this is an interesting debate, young staff often have limited outside commitments, plenty of energy, enthusiasm and a willingless to work unsociable hours. You could call it naivity and inexperience.

Older staff often have more employer experience, responsibilities elsewhere, other commitments including families and children and a good deal more reticence when dealing with demanding empoyers wishing them to have availabilty from 0700-2200 plus weekends.

Work-life balance would seem to go hand in hand with age and responsibilities encountered as a result of age and circumstances.

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