In 1901 a man could, on average, live for 45 years. In 2001, he was expected to live until 75. In 100 years, life expectancy has increased by 30 years. Also people who are 65 today have about the same risk of mortality or serious illness as those who were in their mid-50’s a generation ago.
By 2022 the number of people in the workforce aged 50 to State Pension age will have risen to 13.8 million and the number aged 16-49 will have reduced by 700,000.
Anticipated labour shortages will force a radical rethinking of recruitment and engagement strategies. Managers and leaders need to think about retirement plans and strategic programs designed to attract and retain workers who are 55 years of age or older. Employers may need to do more to attract and retain older workers, many of whom are highly experienced, knowledgeable, and skilled. To attract older workers, however, employers may need to rethink traditional workplace practices.
Employers Must “Train to Gain”
If people are expecting to work longer, the availability of training opportunities and rates of uptake should increase, if employers and workers recognise the need to maintain employability later into life. The UK labour market is changing, with a trend towards roles that are not necessarily bound to specific hours and locations - greater flexibility is essential to retain the older worker.
Also companies must bear in mind that many workers prefer to phase into retirement gradually with their current employers instead of changing employers or moving directly from full-time work to full retirement.
As the population ages and worker shortages develop, more employers may adopt workplace policies to appeal to older people, and they must invest the time to know specifically what each older worker wants - such as:
Provide an environment in which their opinions are valued and in which they can gain new skills
Allow people to remain employed for as long as they want to continue working
The ability to choose their hours, take time off to care for relatives and work from home
The opportunity to have new experiences
Businesses must adapt to the changing age demographics of the workforce
Flexibility can increase job satisfaction, minimise absenteeism and strengthen the psychological contract of trust and loyalty between employer and employee. The ability of older workers to retain or find employment may be affected because the likelihood of work-limiting disability increases with age. As a result, older workers are more likely than younger workers to experience short or long-term disabling conditions, chronic health issues, and absences from the workplace due to their illness.
Three factors strongly affect rates of early withdrawal from the labour market: wealth, health and caring duties but with an ageing population, encouraging and enabling more people to work for longer will boost economic growth.
Old Age Needs a Media Rebrand
Firms should consider using a standard ‘strapline’ in their job advertisements that make clear applicants of any age can apply. Recruitment barriers for older job-seekers are largely a matter of attitudes and perceptions. Age should not be a barrier to training opportunities and it is time for the UK to re-skill its workforce.