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Alleviating the Challenges Faced by an Ageing Workforce

The UK population is living longer than ever before, and by 2030 it’s likely over a third of the workforce will be aged 50 or over (Office for National Statistics, 2021).

With our older population growing faster than that of the working population (and the impact this may have on the economy), people will increasingly be expected to work longer before retiring.

Extending the working lives of older people can bring some positives for individuals, like better financial stability or mental wellbeing. However, this depends on each employer and how they work to ease the pressures faced by those in the ageing workforce, such as:

  • Increased caring responsibilities for relatives.

  • Reduced capacity to achieve the same level/type of work.

  • Skills gap due to being out of work/in one role for a significant period.

It’s imperative that employers look to provide the right support in the right areas for their older workforce to mitigate any obstacles they might face.

This is particularly important for employers like the NHS, where the delivery of vital services is dependent on retaining current experienced positions or encouraging skilled staff who’ve left healthcare to return at a later age – something that has been relied heavily upon since the pandemic.

So what should employers prioritise?

Flexible Working Arrangements/Adaptations

Many challenges threaten the work-life balance of older workers, like long shifts and irregular shift patterns - something especially true in the NHS. In a recent survey, workers over the age of 50 said that working part-time and flexible working hours would help them delay retirement (ONS, 2021).

To address this, employers should consider offering flexible working arrangements such as part-time work, job sharing, or remote working to enable older workers to continue working in a way that suits their needs.

Health/Wellbeing Support

Employers should provide access to health and wellbeing support, including the likes of mental health services and physiotherapy. This can help older workers to manage any health issues they may be facing and ensure that they are able to continue working in good health.

As above, employers should be willing to adapt an employee’s role to fit around health issues that pose a strain to their performance.

Retirement Planning Support

It’s important for employers to provide the right tools to those workers nearing retirement so they can ensure an adequate income to support their futures.

Comprehensive education (i.e., webinars covering pension schemes, personal statements, how to maximise savings etc) and the best possible retirement benefits are both crucial if employers want to help their staff make the most informed decisions and achieve future financial security. These tools are particularly valuable for those over 50.

Training and Development Opportunities

Employees should be encouraged by their employer to learn and develop their skills at any age; it’s invaluable. Employers should offer opportunities to their older workforce to access courses and workshops to grow their existing skillset. This can help to keep older workers engaged and motivated, improving recruitment and retention for the employer.

By providing a range of flexible working arrangements, wellbeing support, retirement planning support, and plenty of room for staff to grow and develop, employers can help to ensure that their older workforce can work in a way that suits their needs, while also maintaining their financial and overall wellbeing.

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