On the International Day of Older Persons we look at our older workforce.
Almost 700 million people are now over the age of 60. By 2050, 2 billion people will be 60 or older.
The increase in the number of older people will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world. Attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is required for the essential contribution the majority of older men and women can make to the functioning of society if adequate guarantees are in place.
Empowering older persons in all dimensions of development, including promoting their active participation in social, economic and political life, is one way to ensure their inclusiveness and reduce inequalities.
More and more over 60s are staying in work past state pension age and employers need to make sure they avoid age discrimination in their employment policies and practices.
What benefits can older employees bring to your business?
- High level of customer service: As the population ages, a business may find that their customers age too. A workforce that understands its customers will help the company stay abreast of changes and add experience and empathy to customer service.
- Experience: Older employees can be just as productive as younger staff and add valuable experience and product knowledge
- Age-diverse workplace: An age-diverse workforce brings many benefits to the team
Retaining experienced employees
Older employees may require more flexible working arrangements or reducing their working hours. It is a legal requirement to agree flexible working/reduced hours if the employee has worked continuously for 26 weeks and not requested a change in working pattern in the previous 12 months. Employers should therefore consider flexible working practices and phased retirement.
An age-diverse workplace poses a number of different challenges for employers. Different staff can have different levels of experience, different approaches to communication and different motivations. It is therefore important to provide supervisors, line managers and employees with up-to-date age-management practices.
Staff loyalty and retention
The average cost of training a new member of staff is probably over £6,000. It makes commercial sense to retrain existing staff where possible. Develop existing talent and up skill older members of staff. Retraining could help to improve overall staff loyalty and turnover.
Default retirement age
Employees cannot be forced to retire. A retirement age cannot be set unless it can be justified – for example a certain level of fitness. Whatever the age of an employee, employers can discuss their future aims and aspirations as this can help identify their training or development needs. These discussions may involve the question of where the employee see themselves in the next few years.
Myth: Older workers are just coasting until retirement so it is not worth investing in training.
Reality: Older workers tend to be loyal and less likely to change jobs frequently. So spending on training older workers is likely to be recovered before they retire.
The theme for this year’s International Day of Older Persons aims to:
- Draw attention to the existence of old age inequalities and how this often results from a cumulation of disadvantages throughout life, and highlight intergenerational risk of increased old age inequalities.
- Bring awareness to the urgency of coping with existing — and preventing future — old age inequalities.
- Explore societal and structural changes in view of life course policies: life-long learning, proactive and adaptive labour policies, social protection and universal health coverage.
- Reflect on best practices, lessons and progress on the journey to ending older age inequalities and changing negative narratives and stereotypes involving “old age.”
If you employ a diverse age range and are concerned as to whether you have the correct policies in place, get in touch with our Employment Team.