Employers must create age-friendly workplaces to ensure success
All employers need to recognise the potential of older workers and create age-friendly workplaces if they are to be successful in future.
By 2022, there will be 12.5 million job vacancies that need to be replaced due to people leaving the workforce, in addition to the 2 million new vacancies that will be created.
However, there are estimated to be just 7 million younger people to fill them. Retaining older workers will be critical to closing this gap.
In some sectors and organisations, the ageing workforce risks a significant loss of skills and people if they were all to retire at state pension age. There is a clear need across all sectors to follow Ros Altmann’s (now Minister for Pensions) three ‘Rs’ for older workers of recruit, retain, retrain.
People aged over 50 comprise over a third of the total workforce, and yet not everyone who wants to work is able to. Only half of the population aged 50-64 are still in work in some parts of the country. The report, ‘The Missing Million’, by Business in the Community estimated that approximately 1 million people have been made ‘involuntarily workless’ – pushed out of their previous job through a combination of redundancy, ill health or early retirement.
In our survey with Ipsos MORI of people aged over 50 in England, of those that had retired 13% had done so due to ill health and 7% because they were made redundant. Despite the removal of the Default Retirement Age, 25% reported retiring primarily because they had reached state pension age. It is possible that at least some of these people would be better off working beyond state pension age, not only for financial reasons but because of the social benefits. Interestingly one in five of people who are officially retired go back to work within five years of retirement.
We know that helping people stay in work will have economic benefits; reducing welfare costs, increasing tax revenue to Government, and ensuring individuals have higher savings for later life. Our Later Life in 2015 research found that the social benefits of work are also important – work gives meaning and purpose, provides social contact and keeps us active. As we live longer it is likely many of us will have to work for longer. We want to ensure that people are able to make informed decisions and have control over where, when and how they work in later life.
There are examples of employers seeking to create age-friendly workplaces and retain the skills and experience of older workers. They see the benefits to their employees, but also of retaining skills and talents, having a diverse workforce and better understanding their customers.
We recently partnered with Business in the Community to strengthen the business case so more employers understand the benefits of an age friendly workplace, to learn from what leading employers are doing, and to spread those policies and practices that are most effective widely.
We want more people to have the opportunity to work for as long as they want to. Therefore, we are interested in hearing from employers across the country that see the benefits of recruiting and retaining older workers and that are implementing changes to create an age friendly workplace. Being age friendly should be a marker of every successful organisation.