Why should business take action on age at work? With an ageing population, older workers are our future workforce. Businesses that operate with foresight and planning will see rewards.
A recent report by Business In The Community Age in the Workplace: Retain, Retrain, Recruit in partnership with the Centre for Ageing Better highlighted the need to retain, retrain and recruit older workers is becoming increasingly important. We no longer have a default retirement age but established social norms entrenched over a long period of time must be addressed to ensure that recruitment and progression are fair for men and women of all ages. Real change is needed to address age bias and discrimination.
The number of people aged 65 and over has grown by almost half over the last 40 years, and now makes up nearly one fifth of the population. By 2050 it is expected to nearly double, to around 19 million. Between 2012 and 2022, an estimated 12.5 million jobs will be opened up by people leaving the workforce, and an additional 2 million jobs will be created – yet only 7 million younger people will enter the workforce to fill them. This shift in demographics needs to be harnessed by business.
In September 2016, the Government appointed the Business in the Community Age at Work Leadership Team, led by Andy Briggs, CEO of Aviva UK Life, as Business Champion for Older Workers. This group are now calling for one million more older people in work by 2022.
“The UK has an ageing population and therefore an ageing workforce. The rising state pension age and the fact that most people are not saving enough for their retirement also creates a critical need for the industry to take action to ensure people can work longer, with opportunities that continue to be fulfilling and make best use of their skills and experience. This shift in demographics needs to be harnessed by business, not feared, because there are real advantages to any business in having a diverse and representative workforce.”
Andy Briggs, CEO, Aviva UK & Ireland Life and Chair of the Business in the Community Age at Work Leadership Team
To address the widening skills gap, tackle age bias in work and enable people to stay in work longer, we need to increase the number of older people in work by one million, or 12% more. This is the starting point for individual employers.
The target aims to support older people who want the same range of options and opportunities as younger colleagues, and to be recognised for their experience and expertise. In recognising the skills older people bring to the workplace, employers will benefit from the breadth and depth of their knowledge.
There are three key components to the the business case on age at work:
People and skills
Older workers are vital for the future of the economy. Between 2012 and 2022, an estimated 12.5 million jobs will be opened up through people leaving the workforce and an additional 2 million new jobs will be created, yet only 7 million new younger people will enter the workforce to fill these jobs.1.
It is vital to business that we change the world of work now, to encourage and enable people to continue working into later life, to avoid skills gaps and ensure that business can continue to benefit from the skills and knowledge of our whole population. Productivity is consistent across age groups.
Support for older workers results in increased loyalty and retention, improving productivity and reducing recruitment costs. The average cost of recruiting and training a new member of staff is estimated by CIPD at £6,000.2.
Bridging the empathy and insight gap
With an ageing population, more industries will find that their customers are ageing too. A workforce that reflects the age profile of your customers will help you deliver the best possible customer service, as your people will relate to your customers. A workforce that reflects your customer demographics will have invaluable insight into the products and services that will be most successful.
Age-diverse workplaces benefit from a range of experiences, ideas and ways of thinking.3. There are huge opportunities for businesses to harness the knowledge and creativity of multiple generations.
The business case for action on age at work is clear. Now business must take action.
Here at Fortyplus People, we are passionate about age diversity and believe that a mixed-age workforce is a successful resourcing strategy for every business.
As our population is ageing, older workers are our future workforce. The need to develop a long-term strategic approach to recruiting, retaining and retaining older workers is crucially important for businesses. In particular, industries with a higher proportion of workers will need to adapt their practices quickly to ensure they can retain and recruit the older workers who are fundamental to their workforce.
1 UKCES (2015)
2 CIPD (2012a)
3 CIPD (2015a)