Professional June 2020


Age is just a number

AndrewDrake, client development director for Buck , discusses providing the right support for older workers

C reating a diverse and inclusive workplace has been a priority for many companies in recent years, and rightly so. Despite this, ageism is as prevalent as ever in workplaces, becoming the most common type of discrimination in Europe ( and has caused a worrying 64% of UK older workers to be concerned about age discrimination ( Businesses must address this if they are going to establish a truly inclusive environment. However, age discrimination can be less clear-cut than other forms of discrimination and can lead to difficulties identifying when a worker is being undermined. For example, companies can introduce policies such as age limits on certain roles as long as they can justify their reasoning. While these policies can give new generations of talent a chance, it can leave older workers already at the company feeling devalued. Getting on a bit Improved living standards, driven by the creation of public healthcare, has meant that life expectancy has risen over the past fifty years, with the average man living almost ten years longer than in 1980 ( As such, rather than reaching the traditional retirement age and starting to wind-down their career, older employees can feel they have a lot more to give as a vital part of the workforce. Workers who continue to work into their seventies also gain an extra source of income, which may be crucial to sustaining their standard of living, as 15,000,000 people have no pension savings in the UK ( Even those with a pension increasingly find it insufficient; improved life expectancy means pension pots have to stretch over a longer period of time. Staying at work can help alleviate any financial concerns. Additionally, vastly increased property prices will leave people paying off

to set out a long-term plan to change their policies and put them into practice. With only a fifth of companies (https://bit. ly/3e74U8M) having a working strategy in place, the huge benefits older workers can bring are not being capitalised on. The first step is for businesses to position themselves as a source of support for all workers. Older workers should feel comfortable talking about what schemes would help them in their daily life. For example, it was found (https://bit. ly/3e9ek3w) that 78% of workers over age fifty would like more flexible hours, and 73% said they wanted to see more part- time positions offered. Introducing schemes such as these can help improve the life of older workers and go a long way to make them feel valued. Moreover, businesses should make clear learning and development programmes are just as open to older workers as they are to younger ones. Providing these opportunities to all members of staff will ensure that skillsets and knowledge are standardised across the workplace. Investing in older staff will undoubtedly have a positive impact on motivation and productivity. Beyond the productivity benefits, helping older staff understand how to make the most of their savings may also help reduce any financial concerns. It’s vital to encourage a healthy attitude to money amongst younger staff, but promoting financial advice to older employees can reassure them that they can have a comfortable retirement; providing clarity on what steps they need to take to help them have a peaceful retirement can go a long way. In order to be truly effective, any initiatives need to start from the moment an employee first joins the company and continue until they leave. Acting as a source of guidance for staff with their financial planning and catering to their unique needs and concerns can help them feel prepared for the day they retire – whatever age that may be. n

mortgages well into their later life, so, coupled with the end of final salary pension schemes, the number of people with smaller pension pots will grow. This means working past the traditional state pension age could become the norm for millennials and Generation-Z, rather than the exception. ...learning and development programmes are just as open to older workers... Age of wisdom As this becomes a reality, workplace dynamics will inevitably shift and many offices will start to see a far wider age range than before. Rather than being concerned, companies should see this as a huge opportunity for diversity of mindset and thought. Older workers have vast experience, knowledge, and skills, which can bring a significant boost to the workplace. They can train younger or entry-level staff about their role and the wider industry, helping them establish themselves more quickly and feel more confident in their decisions. It will also have a financial benefit as the employer will not need to bring in external training from the off. Additionally, if these staff feel more confident about company policy towards older workers, retention will improve. And, with nearly half of millennial job seekers ( actively considering diversity and inclusion when sizing up potential employers, being viewed as an age-friendly company will put them in a better place for attracting new talent. Putting things in place To create a truly inclusive workplace which caters for older workers, businesses need

| Professional in Payroll, Pensions and Reward | June 2020 | Issue 61 36

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