Annie Hayes at PRWeek Jobs shares advice on how to ensure PR agencies employ a workforce that is age representative of the clients they represent.
In both the public and private sectors, Public Relations can be seen as a young person’s game and has been traditionally enticing for new school and university entrants whilst also being a rockbed for some long-timers. PR firms that continuously employ a workforce of a certain age are in danger of exerting too much influence from the mindsets of that particular generation on the organisations they work for and this in turn can be risky for a long term strategy.
Here are some simple steps for ensuring the right person for the job is hired, regardless of age.
Eliminate bias from recruitment: Ensure advertising language is inclusive. For example, ‘energetic’ may appeal to younger workers whilst ‘gravitas’ could infer an older professional is more desirable. Ensure the qualifications you ask for are essential rather than excluding, and that salaries can be scaled according to experience whilst the potential of younger workers is also considered.
Offer development and training regardless of age: Development opportunities can be incorrectly thought of as the preserve of career entrants but it is important to ensure that they are inclusive, whatever stage someone is at in their life or career.
Smash the stereotype: PR is often traditionally branded as a young person’s game and some of the workforce statistics do support this but storytelling is important and for many career swappers it can offer an enticing career. Sharing the skills that are important for success in the sector is the key.
Lead from the front: It’s important that PR leaders demonstrate that age is just a number. This can be achieved by using the tools of the trade and employing PR techniques to reach out to an age-diverse workforce including social media channels, internal comms channels and by ensuring that whatever someone’s age that they have the same opportunities within the firm and wider industry as everyone else.
Build age-mixed mentor groups: There’s no better way to learn than to get the input of an age-diverse working party. They can offer insight into how they feel their generation is viewed and whether there is any unconscious bias that hasn’t been highlighted.
Screen your HR practices: Ensure that your practices don’t exclude any generation and preclude new entrants, mid-lifers or older workers. Do benefits packages appeal to every age group, are pension arrangements flexible and fair? Are millennials catered for in terms of the desires they may now find more appealing including work from home opportunities and networking?
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