reports that due to improvements in life expectancy, there could be 8.6 million more people aged 65 or over by the year 2068.Our population is changing – it’s ageing! Latest projections from The Office of National Statistics
If we consider this along with the removal of the default retirement age, it’s safe to assume that many of these people will be working in later life.
So what does this mean for employers? Whilst there can be some challenges to managing an ageing workforce, such as unconscious bias or increased health risks, there is also great value in the experience older workers bring.
There is no time like the present to start preparing for an ageing workforce. And there are plans that you can put in place now to future-proof your organisation. Read on for our essential inclusions in a well-considered age strategy.
The first step to preparing for an ageing workforce is to promote a positive and welcoming attitude towards older workers and ageing.
As you grow accustomed to a multi-generational workforce, you can spot opportunities and threats for each stage of an employee’s working life.
You’ll want to encourage your team to work well together, and so eliminating any signs of ageism is key.
As age is a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010, employers have a duty of care to protect their employees from ageism.
The fact it is enshrined in law also brings a heightened risk for the business at employment tribunals should ageism occur.
Having a policy in place and setting expectations will help with both of these points.
As your multi-generational workforce is likely to comprise of a wide range of skills and experience, mutual mentoring is a great way for your employees to collaborate with, and support one another.
For example, some problem-solving skills can improve with experience, whilst adapting to digital processes can vary from one generation to the next because of developments in technology.
By pairing employees of different ages through a mutual mentoring partnership you can encourage knowledge sharing and life-long learning.
Training for all ages
Once your multi-generational workforce is in place and working well, you’ll want to consider next steps to ensure that it stays that way.
Continuous learning can ensure that knowledge and skills remain relevant and can strengthen your workforce.
Investing in your employees can also improve staff retention and see people staying with your company for longer.
It’s a good idea to explore a range of training options to suit the varied levels of your workforce.
Health and wellbeing
By this point you have likely invested time and money into a skilled, loyal and diverse workforce. But there is still a chance that obstacles could occur and interrupt the day-to-day work of your team.
Health and wellbeing can have a profound impact on a person’s ability to work or work well. And so promoting good health and wellbeing in your business through an Employee Assistance Programme is beneficial.
An ageing workforce can come with the increased risk of health challenges or family commitments. These could take a toll on a person’s wellbeing and time away from work.
A proactive approach with room for flexibility can help you and your employee find solutions and move forward together.
Retirement planning is an important matter for any employee and is likely to be high on the list of priorities for the ageing workforce.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) states that good age management includes the encouragement of retirement planning. So you can help by signposting this for your employees with up-to-date advice on retirement.
Whilst automatic enrolment makes it a legal requirement for you to enrol your eligible employees into a pension scheme, it can also be beneficial for you to discuss retirement plans with your older workers to prepare for a smooth transition all round.
Peter Jones runs the HR Dept in Swindon and Wiltshire www.hrdept.co.uk/offices/south-west/swindon