The University of Lincoln faces a number of challenges in managing its ageing workforce, particularly in terms of talent management.
Ian Hodson, reward and benefits manager, says: “Universities are an interesting case because the point of academia is to bring in new thinking or research, which often means we must ensure we have the capacity to allow for new staff.
“Also, in an academic context, an employee’s subject area is often their personal interest rather than just a job, so retiring means much more to them than not coming to their desk the next day.”
The university carefully manages its workforce planning strategy to ensure it has the right talent to deliver its business objectives by focusing on employees’ skillsets rather than their age.
For example, ongoing budget cuts in the university sector have driven the University of Lincoln to recruit staff with financial management skills. “This was never a massive requirement for staff in higher education because it wasn’t a priority,” says Hodson. “But now we find we are looking for staff who have those skills because that’s what we need. That’s not about age, but about us, as a business, identifying the need to bring in those skills.”
As well as natural staff attrition, the university creates the headroom required to recruit new talent through an intern programme that it launched two years ago. “We have made room for the skillset that generations Y and Z bring, very much around technology and different ways of thinking, by running the programme alongside the core workforce,” says Hodson.
The university also operates a role review process to underpin any organisational restuctures that are required. “While we can’t always create extra headroom for additional roles, we have a very prominent role review process, which managers can use to help them identify which aspects of a role and which competencies need to change,” says Hodson.
Hodson expects organisational restructures to become increasingly common as employers strive to recruit new talent into ageing workforces while complying with age discrimination law.