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18 Apr 2023

5 ways to encourage older workers to remain economically active

Having older people among a diverse workforce is good for business. How can you hang on to them?

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People are living longer and workers are ageing as employers prepare to manage and care for diverse multigenerational workforces. The number of people aged 65 and over in UK employment is 185% more than in 1992, reaching all time record highs in April-June 2022.

Multigenerational workforces enhance decision making and fuel innovation across the board. Productivity and profitability increase with higher innovation and a more diverse workforce can help reduce employee turnover.

Here are 5 ways to encourage older cohorts to remain economically active:

1. Break the mould

It's crucial to protect the employee experience, creating a more inclusive working environment and focusing on a positive business culture for current and future employees.

The first thing to do when trying to cater for a diverse multigenerational workforce is to avoid stereotypes. Management should avoid using harmful labels in the workforce and help create change when they notice stereotyping elsewhere. Offensive language and labelling contribute to a toxic working environment where people are often uncomfortable and may feel they can’t be themselves in the workplace – potentially damaging relationships and overall.

2. Holistic health and wellbeing support

Nearly half of the UK population report having a longstanding health problem, with probability increasing with age.

Implementing a preventative, clinically backed and targeted health and wellbeing programme will help support workers through their working lives to help increase the likelihood of employees enjoying a healthier/active life in the future.

3. Understand your workforce

Understanding employee needs helps improve employee engagement and overall quality of communication. Use data specific to your organisation. Anonymous population reporting from health and wellbeing programmes or employee pulse surveys can help employers get a feel for their workers and their needs. For example, an increase in those accessing financial assistance means employers should invest into more meaningful services and benefits for their workers.

Understanding employee needs helps to tailor communication in a way that is most meaningful for them. Try and understand what level of support people are looking for, their expectations of employers, what a great workplace looks like for them, any roadblocks in completing daily job role tasks and anything that would help them stay longer in the job.

4. Policies and procedures

Your employees come first. They should see clear employer commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion in an organisation. Policies and procedures should be implemented now to help support workers as they age. Once employee needs are understood, ensure you have concrete commitments to addressing needs – for example, extending options around paid family leave.

It is also important to make sure any policies and procedures around health and wellbeing are proactively managed and up to date. Employee needs continuously change and workforces in two, five or 10 years could look quite different to how they look now.

5. Flexibility

Flexibility with diverse workforces is key to ensuring everyone can manage their personal and professional lives and reduce economic inactivity. For example, those that are experiencing menopause should have a degree of flexibility to manage symptoms. Additionally, an ONS study for those over 50 found that more than half wanted flexible working conditions, with 13% stating they wanted a job that fits around caring responsibilities.

Addressing multigenerational workforce needs and concerns can help employers and HR leaders prepare for the present and future to set themselves up for success and create the most value for employees.

In partnership with Spectrum Life

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