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Supporting An Ageing Workforce

Posted On: 19/06/2019

Last year the Women and Equalities Committee published a report concluding that the skills of more than one million employees aged 50 or over were being wasted due to discrimination, bias and outdated employment practices.

The research carried out with UK organisations revealed that only 1 in 5 employers discussed the ageing workforce strategically, 24% admitted that they are unprepared for a growing number of older employees and the over-50s make up nearly a third of the UK workforce.

Many businesses reap the rewards of having an age-diverse workforce, as such they must ensure that they have age-friendly employment policies and processes in place.  With the state pension age rising the number of older workers will continue to increase.

Adapting for your ageing workforce 

  1. Offer flexibility. As the Baby Boom Generation are starting to think about their retirement plans it’s good practice to adapt your employee exit schemes.  In general, we are living longer and remaining in good health, so options should be in place to accommodate your older employees who may want to continue to work albeit in a reduced capacity. 

Implementing phased-retirement programmes is beneficial to all parties, as the employee can start to enjoy more free time and the employer continues to benefit from their experience.

  1. Prioritise the skills the older generation hold. Placing the more experienced members of staff in positions where their skills are put to their best use is essential as research has proved that these individuals achieve high quality work and deliver great customer service contributing positively to a company’s reputation.     

To successfully achieve this, organisations may need to consider the creation of a new employee model with the introduction of new positions or adapting existing ones.

  1. Introduce a wellness programme for your ageing workforce. Promoting physical activities, such as a walking initiative, is great for mental and physical wellbeing as well as improving work performance, job satisfaction and occupational quality of life. 

By creating this supportive physical environment businesses can influence positive behavioural changes.

  1. Ergonomic health. Many of your older employees may still enjoy great physical health, but it is a fact that many will need adjustments made to the workplace to enable them to continue in their role.  Running training programmes to teach about ergonomic health and safety will benefit all employees as well as raise awareness of the issues faced by the older workers.
  1. Manager development. To retain the experience of the older employees, managers must be equipped with the skills needed to manage people of all ages.
  1. Prioritise engagement. Getting to know your workforce is key to meeting their needs.  Regular updates and employee surveys will ensure businesses understand what they must do to keep their workforce happy and healthy. 
  1. Continual learning and development. Companies who offer coaching or mentoring schemes ensure that the skills and experiences from their older employees are passed on to their younger colleagues.  Passing on this knowledge will make the older employee feel incredibly valued too. 

It is also equally important for the older staff to undertake training programmes to allow them to keep up to date with the ever-evolving world of business and technology.

  1. Revisit your workplace culture. Examine your culture, your core values and your processes.  If they are not reflective of today’s ageing workforce, it’s time to rewrite them to be all inclusive. 

How an ageing workforce adds value to your business 

As mentioned in bullet point number 7 above, older workers can support the ambitious younger team members by acting as mentors, coaches and subject area experts. 

Millennials are known to job-hop, whereas older workers are known for their loyalty and likely to stick around until retirement.  The longer an employee stays with a company, the stronger the long-term relationships with customers are, these relationships are hard to replicate.  

We’re Here To Help 

If you need help improving your workplace culture to be more inclusive or would like advice on how to create policies and procedures to reflect your ageing workforce contact our friendly team of HR professionals on 0161 941 2426.

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