Tuesday, October 27, 2009

United Kingdom: Study Released on Employers and Aging Workforce

According to research conducted by the United Kingdom's Institute for Employment Studies and the Policy Studies Institute, only half of employers have a formal pro-age recruitment policy, and many are nervous of discussing age issues with workers as they approach retirement. However, many businesses are open to making adjustments to the workplace to help retain staff if the issue is raised on an informal basis.

The report "An Ageing Workforce--The Employer’s Perspective", authored by Helen Barnes, Deborah Smeaton, and Rebecca Taylor and funded by Nuffield Foundation, explores the attitudes of employers towards older workers, the range of interventions in place to prevent early exit and facilitate their continued employment. The report found that many employers are happy to let people carry on working after the normal retirement age of 65, and many would also be happy to see compulsory retirement abolished, but that they need support to get the best out of more mature workers.

According to Barnes:
The role of line managers is crucial here. Employers must make a greater effort to communicate with staff and highlight that alternative working arrangements are a possibility, and that staff have a degree of choice in the run-up to retirement age. Employees on their part also need to be better informed of their rights to help encourage them to engage with their employer.
Other findings include:
  • Formal pro-age recruitment policies and age management policies are more common in larger organisations.
  • Some employers did express reservations around older workers, where they did not match their customer demographic or there was a heavy manual element to their work.
  • Health is still largely regarded as a private, individual matter rather than a concern for employers beyond meeting specific health and safety regulations.
  • Some employers simply do not have any experience of staff retiring, often because they have a small business or a new business with a young workforce. Larger employers were familiar with the retirement process and more often had policies in place to manage the process.
  • Older workers in sectors with skills shortages are recognised as a valuable resource, and employers are keen to retain them.
In addition, a summary of the report is available.

Source: Institute for Employment Studies Press Release (October 21, 2009)

No comments: