Keeping people over the age of 50 at work is becoming increasingly important. Those aged 50 and over already represent 1 in 5 of the workforce - and soon this proportion will rise to 1 in 4 as people continue to live, and work, longer.
Here are 5 things you need to know about an ageing workforce:
- While people’s reactions often get slower with age, this is offset by increased accuracy, accumulated knowledge and experience. Older workers can bring a significant level of expertise to a role that can be shared with colleagues and positively influence decision-making.
- Muscle strength generally reduces with age – but this reduction can be slowed or even reversed by training. Making an effort to accommodate the requirements of individual members of staff can improve productivity. Sensory abilities including vision and hearing also change with age, but through personal aids and a workplace assessment of the environment many of these issues can be mitigated.
- Flexible working arrangements can be tailored to suit older workers and enable an organisation to develop a more age diverse workforce. Some companies have introduced a series of flexible working initiatives that are designed to engage and retain older workers and to ease the transition to retirement. Examples include ‘Wind Down’, which is effectively part-time working in the later stages of an employee’s career and ‘Ease Down’, where employees reduce their working commitments in the approach to retirement. Workers over 50 often have domestic care responsibilities for spouses or elderly parents. This means flexible working is essential if they are to juggle their familial responsibilities.
- An approach to dealing with mental and physical decline includes interrelationships between the physical and mental health and well being of the employee, the working role the individual is in, the motivations and skills of the individual and the broader work environment they are working in. Adjustments to these areas can have a positive influence on the performance of the employee.
- Consultations and action plans involving various professionals (including occupational physicians and other health professionals, HR staff and line managers) working together can reduce the likelihood of sickness absence and early retirement for health reasons.
By ensuring older workers have access to flexible working opportunities and support from within the business Companies will be better suited to respond to the challenges of ageing workforces.
Making positive changes in health behaviours will have an impact at any age and, for older workers, also have a positive effect into retirement.