Utlising and promoting the skills of an older workforce

B&Q is the largest home improvement and garden centre retailer in the UK with 362 stores employing around more than 33,000 people nationwide. Nearly half the retailer’s workforce is female and a quarter is over the age of 50, with a similar number under the age of 25.

B&Q scrapped its own retirement age in the mid 1990’s which was derived from a project at the Macclesfield store in 1989, which was staffed entirely with employees aged over 50 for a trial period. The initiative produced 18% higher profits with six times less staff turnover.  For more than 20 years B&Q has been at the forefront of employing older workers and is a founding member of the Employers Forum for Age, a network created by employers to remove barriers to an age-balanced workforce.

B&Q are still continually working to remove the age barriers to work.  One of their main achievements has been to develop an age neutral working policy. This policy removed the retirement age over 15 years ago along with any age criteria in relation to recruitment or benefits, they also offer a flexible retirement option enabling employees to draw their pension whilst continuing to work. Last year also saw the upper age limit removed from their Apprenticeship scheme and now apprentices are aged from 18 – 72.

“Performance isn’t about your age or sex, it’s about doing a good job and our culture at B&Q rewards people for a job well done regardless of how old they are or whether they are male or female.  We work in an open and honest way which rewards successes and coaches colleagues through situations when improvement is needed.

Having a diverse workforce works for our customers – the older workers employed in our stores have greater life experience and a true willingness to work which means they can pass on their knowledge and skills to customers and younger members of staff”

Fraser Longden, People Director at B&Q.