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B&Q and Ageing Workers


B&Q has demonstrated the business benefits of taking a strategic approach to managing an ageing workforce.

In the late 1980s, after realising that its sales staff did not reflect the diversity of its customer base, the company staffed its Macclesfield store with solely over 50s (note, this would be illegal now). In 1991, the company worked with Warwick University to conduct a survey of the Macclesfield store, benchmarking it against four other B&Q Supercentres.

The results helped to further validate the business case for an age-diverse workforce:

  • Profits were 18% higher.
  • Staff turnover was six times lower.
  • There was 39% less absenteeism and 58% less shrinkage.
  • There was an improved perception of customer service and an overall increase in the skill base.

This work helped lead to a cultural change as managers began to acknowledge the success of this initiative and proactively started to recruit older workers into their teams.

To support its efforts to improve how it manages, develops and retains older workers, B&Q:

  • has successfully operated without a retirement age for over 15 years and provides flexible retirement options.
  • uses an online selection process for store-based roles and a standard application form for other roles to
    ensure it recruits people based on their ability, not age.
  • provides a range of contract types that offer hours to suit all individuals and has removed age-related criteria from its rewards and benefits.
  • offers flexible working to everyone, irrespective of age, length of service or caring responsibilities.
  • has developed a development framework for all customer advisers that offers them choice and flexibility around how and when they learn.
  • continues to regularly seek feedback and views from its workforce via its employee information and consultation forum called Grass Roots, and employee sessions with B&Q’s CEO.
  • encourages all its stores to employ a diversity champion.

Source: Managing a healthy ageing workforce: A national business imperative, Healthy Working Lives & CIPD, 2012.