There are a number of benefits of having older employees in your business, but there may be adjustments you need to make, as George Square explains.
With 72% of UK employees saying they will work beyond the age of 65*, businesses will have to manage an ageing workforce.
Employees are working longer for a number of reasons. The rising cost of living is forcing over 20 million into later retirement*. In fact, nine in ten (90%) UK employees say that the rising cost of living is the main reason why they expect to work beyond 65, with 87% saying the same of poor returns on savings due to low interest rates. Another driver for remaining in employment is owning a business, in the case of family businesses or the self-employed.
There are divided opinions about the UK’s ageing workforce as it brings a new set of challenges for workers to contend with. Over a third believe that an ageing workforce might mean that older workers will have to re-train or learn new skills to stay in work, while another third think it could make it harder for young people to move up the career ladder. But more than 40% are positive that a mix of older and younger employees creates a workforce with a wider range of skills, which is beneficial for employees and employers alike.
Business benefits of older workers
Older workers can bring valuable knowledge and experience to the workplace and can serve as mentors for younger employees who are just starting out in the business or industry. Having an age diverse workplace may also assist with problem solving, fresh thinking and creativity, as people are able to offer alternative insights.
Those who have worked in relationship-based roles for a long time may have vast networks or strong customer relationships which can add value to a business. Plus, an older worker may better understand and be empathetic towards an older audience, improving quality of customer service and awareness.
Actions businesses should take
To capitalise on the skills of an ageing workforce, businesses need to focus on retaining and supporting experienced employees by providing greater flexibility in the workplace and reviewing their employee benefits to ensure they are attractive to both older and younger generations of workers.
Flexible working practices and phased retirement opportunities will demonstrate to older workers that their well-being and job security is a priority for the company and may feel that they are better able to achieve a work-life balance as they age.
It also makes financial sense to retrain existing staff rather than recruiting and training new employees. Providing training courses to upskill or reskill older employees, particularly as new technologies are introduced, will help to improve staff loyalty and morale, and may reduce staff turnover. These skills can then be passed on.
Employers now have the opportunity to capitalise on the skills of two or even three generations, but only by addressing the changing needs of their employees.
*Research conducted by Canada Life using ONS Employment Figures, May 2018
Offering employee benefits that your workforce appreciates is crucial to recruit and also retain valuable workers.