Saturday, September 29, 2007

United Kingdom: Extensive Research Study Highlights Employers' Approach to Older Workers

A qualitative study looking at how United Kingdom employers are responding to an ageing workforce carried out by the Centre for Research into the Older Workforce (CROW) and published by the Department of Work and Pensions suggests that most employers say they have positive attitudes to older workers, although they are more reluctant to recruit the over-50s and training seems to tail off for this group. Many employers claim to prefer older workers to younger ones, because of their attitudes to work and their experience. Small firms were particularly likely to keep older people on after State Pension Age.

The study--"Employer Responses to an Ageing Workforce"--was authored by Professor Stephen McNair, Director of CROW, Matt Flynn and Nina Dutton and is based on in-depth interviews with either a senior human resource (HR) manager or a general manager at one of 70 firms, across nine occupational sectors, with a wide geographical spread. According to the summary introduction to this 188-page report:
This study has found that awareness of the Age Regulations is high among employers and that, in general, most are sympathetic to avoiding age discrimination in the workplace, although many do not make the connection between this and business needs, partly perhaps because they are unaware of long term demographic trends. Attitudes towards 'older' workers were generally positive, while young people were viewed more negatively and rarely seen as victims of age discrimination. There was a good deal of change in HR practices generally, but rarely as a sole result of the Regulations. Positive practices on retention of existing workers were much more common than active policies on recruitment. Employers were most likely to be anxious about the implementation of the new provisions on retirement, and the management challenges which this might present. In this area defensive responses appeared sometimes to be having the opposite effect to that intended by Government. The attempt to minimise risk and workloads for managers was a common theme. Within the limitations of the sample interviewed, there was no evidence of regional variation in employer behaviour.
Source: Department for Work and Pensions Research Report No 455--"Employer responses to an ageing workforce: a qualitative study" (September 27, 2007)

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