A report by the University of Oxford shows that by 2040 almost one in seven people will be over the age of 75. It’s a pressing issue for UK employers with almost a quarter admitting they are not prepared for a growing number of older workers. With the combination of longer life expectancies and raised retirement ages, and fewer school leavers looking for jobs, employers must consider how well equipped their organisation is for an ageing workforce.
According to a survey by The Office for National Statistics by 2030 over 65s will make up over half of the new employees in the UK market. As the UK workforce becomes more age diverse the workplace must keep up, and ensure people are given equal opportunities regardless of age. People are generally healthier and working longer than ever before, and for employers, this means that ensuring there’s no place for ageism in their organisation is vital for the well-being and inclusion of future employees.
Here are 4 ways to prepare to support an ageing workforce, and become an age-friendly employer:
An older workforce can be a valuable opportunity to pass on experience and skills to younger employees through mentoring and training programmes. As well as professional industry skills and knowledge, younger employees could also benefit from the wisdom elder workers may have about navigating the workplace, negotiating promotions, and finding a work-life balance. Mentoring is a great way to create an inclusive culture and bring older and younger generations together in a way they may not otherwise interact at work.
With people working longer, a key method to retain employees is to put measures in place that prevent burn out and support a healthy work-life balance. Flexible working arrangements may help prepare for an ageing workforce because it enables workers to fit their work within their life rather than fitting their whole life around their work. A study by Aviva recently revealed that almost a quarter of workers have quit jobs in favour of more flexible roles. In the long run, embracing flexibility in working hours and location is likely to increase employee loyalty, wellbeing, and ultimately keep top talent at your organisation.
As people grow older they are more susceptible to health issues. Poor mental or physical health can have a profound impact on someone’s ability to go to work, and can result in extended time off that can then cost employers precious time and money. Of course, people get sick and if an employee does become ill, employers are duty bound to support them. However, with an ageing workforce, the likelihood of more employees presenting health challenges is much higher than in a younger workforce. Therefore employers should think about investing in health benefits to limit the impacts it may have on them. Benefits such as private healthcare, working from home or flexi-time, dental plans, and a good annual leave allowance are all investments that can improve employee wellbeing and limit the number of sick days people need to take in the long term.
Retirement may not be high on the priority list for young employees, however, with longer life expectancies comes the responsibility to plan for the future. Employers can help both older and younger workers to plan for their retirement in a few different ways. HR teams can organise individual meetings with employees to go through the benefits of enrolling in pension schemes and their options when it comes to increasing their personal contribution. Organisations as a whole can also attract and retain top talent by offering benefits such as matching employee’s contributions to help them build up more money in their pension pots in the long run. For an ageing workforce to feel valued and ultimately remain happy at work, employers need to make sure workplaces are age-friendly.
Read more about ageism in tech and how to avoid it