By 2020 a third of workers will be over the age of 50; how will your business respond to this demographic change to make work more appealing for the older generation? The life expectancy in the UK is increasing; this means that the defaultretirement age is facing abolition. Workers will be facing longer periods of retirement with proportionally less pension provision; they will most likely have to work longer in order to build retirement income.
A recent national legislation safeguards older workers from dismissals on grounds of age. This new HR and employment law aims to support and encourage workers to remain in employment for as long as they are able and willing. Working longer for has its benefits for both the business and the employees. Providing jobs that are safe and allow staff a degree of control in their workplace can have a positive effect on health, while also indirectly benefiting the economy through limiting health and social care costs.
Many employers consider their older workforce to be a valuable asset. The older generation will have positive traits attributed to them such as, a strong work ethic, loyalty, business experience, specialised skills reliability. However, some businesses may not overlook the negative stereotypes older workers maintain. Common views include that they are less adaptable to technology, slow cognitive response, less productive and slower than younger workers. Nevertheless, these perceptions are undermined by the evidence supporting the aging workforce and their physical and mental capabilities.
Adapting your business to overcome the challenges of age based employability
Jobseekers are often forced into involuntary retirement as employment becomes more difficult to find with old age. Redundancy diminishes self-confidence and when combined with mental health issues, these are major obstacles for older workers to find new work. For the aging generation, employment flexibility would enable them to keep working. Technology encourages working from out of the office, this allows for remote working, flexible hours and phasing out retirement. Even with legislation changes and monetary incentives to support older workers, this alone will not encourage them to stay in employment if there are no good access to development opportunities and support in their job.
Workplace policy that supports older workers
To obtain the many benefits of an age diverse workforce, businesses should focus on implementing non-discriminatory workplace policies to support their older workers, such as:
- On-going retirement support and plans throughout working life
- Training and development on new technology, how to transfer skills for employability
- Introducing flexible working plans into the business
These strategies will play a huge role in job safety and satisfaction for these aging labourers. Flexible working initiatives can extend working lives by catering to the physical limitations that comes with old age. A relevant training scheme will help to broaden the skillset of old workers, build confidence in their job role, and making them feel included and valued by the business.
Your workplace design will also have an impact on age-related health declines, as the working environment plays an important part in workers' cognitive and physical well-being. In order to support aging workers, modifying your workplace to cater to physical needs can help employees to feel more at ease and promote good health. Introducing ergonomic furniture and controllable lights enables comfort and supports concentration for all workers, but is a particular advantage for the older generation. With the right support system in place, older workers suffering physical impairment need not be barred from working.
Implementing these strategies into your workplace will show a good return on investment, reduce absenteeism caused by illness, generally improve moral in the workplace and can also reduce the possibility of early retirement due to health decline. Ultimately, this can help to ensure that the next generation of older workers stay healthy and will be capable of remaining in employment for longer.