Estimated reading time: 3 minutes
Laura Matthews looks at why employers need to start proactively being "age friendly."
By mid-2017, the UK population was estimated to be the largest it’s ever been at 66 million*. This figure is expected to continue rising to 73 million by 2041*. Why, we may ask?
The reasons include that there are more births than deaths and more people are moving to the UK than leaving. As well as increasing in size, the ageing population is proportionately growing at a higher rate than the overall population.
This is reflected in the UK workplace as well. According to Age Better UK almost one in three UK employees are over the age of 50 and this is expected to increase over the next 20 years. With the removal of the default state pension age, employees are working well into their 60s and beyond, although for some it is a financial necessity rather than a choice., We talk about the importance of supporting the “sandwich generation” who, generally speaking, have caring responsibilities outside of full time work but (many of whom) also are also tackling poor health. These scenarios are likely to be more prevalent among an ageing workforce.
"Organisations are starting to feel the strain, if they’re not feeling it already, of vacancies being harder to fill due to the lower number of school leavers and the continued uncertainty around Brexit, making it harder to fill vacancies with employees from outside the UK. "
This presents a problem but also an opportunity. Either way, employers need to start being proactive in ensuring they are “age-friendly” by supporting the older worker and fully recognising their skills, knowledge and experience whilst rewarding them fairly for the contribution they make. They also need to consider and understand their needs and aspirations, both in terms of development and career progression and tackling any stereotyping, stigma or discrimination that may arise.
A number of organisations are introducing “Mid-Life MOTs” that focus on three main areas of work, financial wellbeing and overall wellbeing. Interventions include face to face financial wellbeing or financial education workshops, one-to-one tailored careers sessions and even the use of online pension forecasting tools.
There is no "one size fits all" to this approach with organisational delivery being slightly different. Feedback overall is very positive in terms of giving employees the tools, support, advice and guidance to start\better plan for later life.
Some of the feedback from Mid-Life MOTs . . .
“94 of the 100 invitees took advantage of the MOT. There is a demand for this support.” – Aviva
“90% agreed the pilot was useful.” – Legal & General
“Between the telephone interview and the follow up pack, I now feel I have a solid foundation of pension knowledge to make well informed decisions.” – Participant - The Pension Advisory service
There have also been significant benefits for employers with increased take up of learning and development opportunities, better employee engagement, higher staff retention, reduced staff absence rates and reduced ill-health, as well as increased productivity.
What would encourage your organisation to run something similar? Are you responding to Brexit or do you see the need to respond to Pension Freedoms? Are you looking to support working carers or older workers in your organisation? Or is attracting and retaining skilled employees your main motivation?
For support in developing and delivering Mid-Life MOTs, or for any general workplace wellbeing support, please speak to Laura Matthews, Workplace Wellbeing Consultant, Barnett Waddingham.
*Stats and references taken from ageing-better.org.uk