Our recent Supporters Network Webinar was on the topic of age-friendly employment, and looked specifically at how employees over 50 can be supported and valued – sharing ideas and good practice to overcome potential issues. This was delivered with speakers from the Centre for Ageing Better, Rest Less and Electricity North West. This blog details the key findings from the event, alongside resources including the presentation slides, and full video recording.
The importance of being a more Age-Friendly Employer.
There is a larger proportion of older people employed than ever before: with one in three workers aged 50 and over, and the average employee in the UK now being in their 40’s. This is set to become even more prominent, with 1 million more older workers predicted by 2025, alongside a drop in the proportion of the workforce aged under 30.
It is becoming evident that older people are planning to work for longer; with rising retirement ages and concerns surrounding pensions resulting in changes to the notion of ‘later life’. This has been exacerbated by Covid-19, with furlough disproportionately affecting the over-50’s age group – creating financial insecurity, and fear surrounding being made redundant due to the difficulty of getting back into the labour market.
The impact of this has been a mass change in retirement plans, with 1 in 8 older workers altering their plans in order to work for longer, directly due to the pandemic. This is all evidence that there will be more older workers in employment, and seeking employment – a fact which good employers need to address within their organisation.
Steps forward to become a more Age-Friendly Employer.
Becoming a more age-friendly employer, and sustaining this progress, can be achieved across many facets of an organisation. This includes looking at recruitment processes – for example making flexible working policies clear, and ensuring chances of age bias at this stage are minimised. It also includes assessing whether the overall working environment is age-positive: with sufficient health support, and career development opportunities for all ages.
Employee voice is crucial here; with age often creating assumptions regarding capability, and desired career progression. Having clear and consistent conversations with all employees, including older workers, about any potential concerns, desires or needed adjustments – will work to ensure that age alone isn’t treated as the reason for making decisions.
The business case for being an Age-Friendly Employer.
Age diversity in the workplace is not something which benefits only older workers. It presents huge opportunities within an organisation; with a mixed-age workforce providing vital knowledge and skills, reflecting a wide customer base and bringing together the widest possible range of ideas, skill strengths and experiences. These opportunities create better business performance, strengthened team dynamics, and higher levels of customer satisfaction.
Later retirement also creates a large recruitment pool for employers to utilise. Often, older highly qualified professionals seeking employment are dismissed as ‘overqualified’ – and therefore deemed unsuitable for the role. However, if employers instead decide to make use of this talent, there are significant business benefits in doing so.
Want to get involved? If you’re an employer interested in learning more about this topic, and helping to develop an employer toolkit – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Kim Chaplain, Associate Director for Work at the Centre for Ageing Better
Stuart Lewis, Founder and CEO at Rest Less
Rachael Parr, Human Resources Director at Electricity North West
- YouTube: Full Video Recording of Event
- Centre for Ageing Better and Electricity North West: Presentation Slides
- Centre for Ageing Better: Becoming an Age-Friendly Employer
- Centre for Ageing Better: Flexible Working for Over 50’s Toolkit
- Centre for Ageing Better: Age Bias in Recruitment Report
- Acas: Older Workers - Rights at Work
- Department for Work & Pensions: Guidance for Managers of Older Workers
- BITC: Becoming an Age Friendly Employer Toolkit