How an ageing workforce is an asset, not an issue
April 10, 2019 / Libby Barrett
“With people living longer, and subsequently working longer, the Office of National Statistics estimates that by 2020 a third of UK workers will be over 50. Our CEO Samantha Rutter spoke to The Business Desk about why employers should see an ageing workforce as an opportunity rather than a threat.
“The UK economy is faced with many challenges; Brexit being a particularly poignant issue that is dominating the news, and rightly so. But what about the other challenges that tend to be overshadowed by the ‘bigger issues’? It’s time to start talking about the UK’s ageing workforce and how employers can adapt to support their careers.”
One third of the workforce
“A report from the Centre of Ageing Better (2018) discovered that the over 50s now make up almost a third of the workforce in the UK, with numbers set to rise over the coming years. When questioned about their preparations for an ageing workforce, almost a quarter of employers admitted that they were completely unprepared for the challenge. This isn’t an overnight occurrence, so it is surprising to read that many workplaces have no plan of action when it comes to helping their ageing workforce to thrive.
An ageing workforce hasn’t stemmed solely from the fact that people are now living longer. It also arises due to their need to continue to work and maintain a sufficient income that allows them to survive. Unfortunately, this is the result of pensions no longer being as lucrative as they once were. That, on top of the rising cost of living, means people in their 40s and 50s are not as prepared for retirement as the previous generation.
“Individuals who fall into the ageing workforce bracket have an impressive breadth of experience and expertise that employers can and should continue to utilise. But, to do this effectively, they need to take proactive steps to prepare their business. It may be helpful to think of it in a similar way to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. On the first tier, they need to address employees’ essential needs such as private healthcare programmes, an enhanced pension scheme and a secure wage.
The second tier focuses on offering additional training; enabling employees to take advantage of training schemes that either refresh their knowledge or help them to learn something new in order to continue to thrive in their employment and keep their minds healthy.
The third and final tier recognises the employee’s experience and abilities and rewards them for it; offering variety to keep them interested and opportunities for progression if this is of interest to the individual.
By investing in an ageing workforce, and providing them with the necessities, the training and the rewards they need to excel in their careers, it allows organisations to continue to cultivate their workforce; demonstrating that they recognise employees of all ages are a valuable asset to the business.”
This article first appeared on The Business Desk website on 29th March.