Wednesday, March 28, 2012

United Kingdom: Employers Not Taking Proactive Steps To Engage and Retain Older Workers

A report published by Acas finds that there is little evidence of employers in the United Kingdom taking proactive steps to engage and retain older workers. According to research conducted by Cranfield School of Management and Nottingham Business School, "The Employment Relations Challenges of an Ageing Workforce" concludes that "if the UK economy is to fully benefit from the skills and experience of its older workers, a larger proportion of organisations will need to adopt age management policies and practices which are effectively communicated to their workforces."
On a broader level the evidence suggests that despite anti-age discrimination legislation and the removal of age barriers in employment policies and practices, there continue to be stereotypical attitudes towards individuals based on age in the workplace, including the view that a person’s performance decreases from age 50 onwards, and that many employers generalise from what was actually limited experience of older workers with older workers seen as lacking technological skills and being less adaptable to change than younger workers.
Interestingly, the authors also note that there is some evidence that anti-discrimination legislation is "having a deadening effect on employers’ proactivity in addressing age related issues on the grounds that to do so would be discriminatory as it would introduce different treatment for different age groups."

Among the recommendations for age management policies, the report includes:
  • embedding in the employment relationship a better understanding of how age is currently conceptualized in the world of work in order to maximize the organizational engagement and contribution of older workers;
  • workforce training and other initiatives to change the organizational culture around stereotypical attitudes about both older and younger workers; and
  • better targeted guidance and education which stresses the business benefits of innovative working practices, engagement and communication, rather than just focusing on compliance with the anti-age discrimination legislation.
Source: Acas News Release (March 28, 2012)

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