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A Little Bit Older, A Little Bit Wiser: Canada's Small Business Owners Admire Older Workers

WINNIPEG, Nov. 27, 2012 /CNW/ - An overwhelming majority (96 per cent) of Canadian owners of small and medium sized businesses agree that workers 65 years and older offer more valuable experience and expertise than younger workers, according to new research from Investors Group. Sixty-nine per cent contend that this group is not more expensive to employ.

As well, the majority of small business owners do not have concerns about lack of stamina and reduced productivity from older workers. Eighty-five per cent say that workers 65 years and older are just as productive as younger workers and 79 per cent concur that senior workers have the required level of energy and ambition for their jobs.

"As more boomers and seniors continue working in their later years, it's encouraging to see that their value and contribution to the workplace are acknowledged by Canada's small business owners," says Dave Ablett, Director, Tax and Estate Planning at Investors Group. "At the same time, finding work in later years will require thinking outside the box and a sound retirement plan to ease the transition into a new phase of life."

Seventeen per cent of small business owners say at least one-tenth of their workforce is 65 or older; approximately four-in-ten (43 per cent) business owners expect ten per cent or more of their employees to retire in the next five years.

Welcoming but a tad wary

Despite the accolades, small business owners aren't predisposed to put this demographic on the payroll as new workers. The study reveals that while 31 per cent of small business owners currently have employment opportunities within their organizations, most (79 per cent) believe it's not likely that the position will be filled by someone older than 65 now, or in the future (64 per cent).

Half (51 per cent) the survey respondents also concede health issues are more likely to affect the attendance or job performance of workers who are seniors. Fifty-five per cent believe they are not as technologically adept as younger workers.

Adjusting to older employees

Recognizing that some accommodations may be in order, small business owners appear to be considering a number of viable work options for older workers. Many of the small business owners surveyed said they already offer, or are agreeable to implementing, a number of workplace adjustments including: part-time employment (65 per cent); specific project work (43 per cent), contract or consulting work (35 per cent), working from home (25 per cent) and job sharing (23 per cent).

"Whether it is a second career or a phased-in-retirement, flexibility is key to retaining and even acquiring older talent and enabling them to add value to the business as they continue to pursue their career interests," says Ablett.

Stretch those wings and fly

Canada's small business owners aren't pigeon-holing older workers into what they can or cannot do for employment. Only 24 per cent of business owners suggest that seniors looking for employment should focus on casual employment opportunities in the retail or service industries. Instead, a majority (56 per cent) recommend they apply for whatever opportunities interest them.

Half (51 per cent) recommend that older workers try to make an arrangement with their current employer before looking elsewhere or suggested reaching out to other employers in their current area of expertise (51 per cent).

"Older workers shouldn't undersell themselves and settle for less than what they want," says Ablett. "Considering new perspectives and putting thought and foresight into a realistic retirement plan can provide the flexibility that will allow individuals to investigate new and interesting career and life choices."

More media information, including an infographic, executive summary of survey highlights and tips for older workers, is available on the Investors Group Media Room.

About the Survey Methodology

This survey was conducted by Harris/Decima online from September 21-October 14, 2012, with 743 owners or senior financial decision makers of businesses of less than 500 employees.  The data was weighted by business size within region to match the profile of businesses of this size in Canada.   

About Investors Group

Investors Group, founded in 1926, is a national leader in delivering personalized financial solutions to Canadians through a network of more than 4,500 Consultants located throughout Canada. In addition to an exclusive family of mutual funds and other investment vehicles, Investors Group offers a wide range of insurance, securities, mortgage and other financial services. Investors Group is a member of the IGM Financial Inc. (TSX: IGM) group of companies. IGM Financial is one of Canada's premier financial services companies with approximately $120 billion as of October 31, 2012, in total assets under management.

SOURCE Investors Group Inc.

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