Half of SMEs prefer experienced workers

People aged between 35 and 54 are at the top of the hire list for small businesses in the UK, research by Aldermore has revealed.

In a survey of 1,002 SME business leaders, 50% said they would choose to hire from this age group out of all potential recruits – compared to 30% who would prefer to hire 18 to 34-year-olds.

Nearly half of small business owners (47%) also said they believe 35 to 54-year-olds have the greatest industry knowledge of any age group.

When describing current employees, similar numbers of employers said this age group are the most productive (53%), most focused (50%), and have the best work ethic (48%).

However, 21% said it is difficult to recruit employees in this age range, with this figure increasing to 32% among medium-sized businesses.

Carl D’Ammassa, group managing director of business finance at Aldermore, said businesses should also recognise the “fresh approach” that can come with hiring younger staff.

He said:

“Attracting and hiring the best industry talent can be a tough task, yet the long-term benefits that even a single new staff member can bring to a business can be very significant.

“Having a diverse workforce with different perspectives drives innovation and problem-solving, which is why hiring employees with different skills and levels of experience is so important.”

References – New guidance released by Acas

Workplace experts, Acas, have published guidance to help employers and employees know the rules around employment references.

A recent survey by AAT (Association of Accounting Technicians) found that nearly half of employers want job applicants who have relevant work experience.

Tom Neil, Acas Senior Adviser said:

“The job market can very competitive so it is vitally important for job applicants and employers to know what the legal requirements are around work references.

“We’ve based our advice around the typical questions that we receive on our helpline about job references.

“Acas’ new advice has information on what to include in work references, when they are needed and how to resolve problems with references.”

Typical questions the Acas helpline receives about job references:Can an employer refuse to give a reference?
– How can I obtain a copy of the reference my previous employer has supplied?
– If a reference is incorrect what can I do about it?
– Can my employer includes absence rates relating to sickness in a reference?
– Can an employer put negative things in a reference?

Acas’ employment references advice includes top tips such as:
– Employers can usually choose whether or not to give a reference;
– Employers must only seek a reference from a job applicant’s current employers with their permission;
– If a conditional job offer is made then it can be withdrawn if the job applicant doesn’t meet satisfactory references. Employees should consider waiting until they get an unconditional job offer before handing in their notice in their current job;
– Potential employers should remember a referee may not provide a reference or might inaccurately suggest the applicant is suitable. In these circumstances, it may help to discuss any concerns with the job applicant directly first; and
– Job applicants who are unhappy with a reference can ask for a copy that was sent to their new employers and may be able to claim damages in court if they can prove it was misleading or inaccurate and resulted in the withdrawal of their job offer.

Read Acas’ employment references guidance.