Last week’s announcement from the Government told us that the state pension age (SPA) will rise to 68, seven years earlier than previously planned, which for most did not come as a surprise.
The rise, which is due to be implemented between 2037 and 2039 rather than 2044 as initially proposed, meaning that over six million men and women will have to wait an extra year to get their state pension. This will affect those currently aged between 39 and 47. More information can be read here.
So what does this mean to employers and their workforce?
The rise in SPA primarily affects the sandwich generation and will be a factor for employers worrying about an ageing workforce. An ageing population was ranked as the top wellbeing challenge facing employers in the next five years in our recently published Workplace Wellbeing Index.
The sandwich generation is already facing challenges of their own such as: balancing work, families and the additional responsibility of caring for elderly relatives. If this generation is not supported, they could ultimately pose as much of a risk to an organisation as the ageing population, as you will read below.
It is a fact that people are living longer meaning that they are staying in work longer. This means employers need to support both their older workers and the employees who are balancing work, family and care responsibilities.
Here are a few things to consider:
Providing education on a range of topics like financial education around pensions and retirement or care support will equip employees with the knowledge to ensure they have enough money to retire or what to do around an immediate care need for a relative or partner.
Employers should consider and review the benefits they are offering. Benefits ranging from providing access to financial advice, which in turn can help with preparing and planning the funding of care or retirement, to benefits that already incorporate care, such as building up credits for advice, emergency care or a voucher scheme.
Employers could offer flexibility around working hours, location and duties. This will help support employees both in and outside of the workplace whilst reducing stress and pressure keeping them productive over a longer period of time.
Overall health and wellbeing is important. Particular focus should be given to the ageing workforce and the sandwich generation. These employees may be dealing with additional pressure or stress, which may result in presentism or even absenteeism. Employers will invariably see more age related illnesses, which will affect both the mental and physical health of employees so it is important that employers have a robust absence management service with input from both occupational health and rehabilitation.
When looking to implement health and wellbeing initiatives, it is vital that you understand your employees’ needs and then look to address these. You can do this by running an employee survey, which pulls out the hotspots or issues within the workplace. Employers can then implement interventions to address these. Surveys are also an effective way of addressing the entire workforce whilst providing a non-discriminatory way of understanding the specific needs of the older employees too.
Personal development plans will help address training needs and may even result in targeted training sessions to help employees function within their daily roles. Providing sufficient training in the forever developing area of IT is important in keeping all employees upskilled and efficient in using the business systems.
To summarise, an ageing workforce is unavoidable and is imminently upon most of us, if not already here. The increase in SPA means that employees will be in the workplace for even longer, thus exacerbating the ageing workforce issue. Employers need to consider how this will affect their business and what steps they will put in place to address this.