New partnership to encourage creation of age friendly workplaces

Hiring older workersBetween 2005 and 2015 the number of people working over the age of 50 in the UK increased by 2.5 million, while those working over the age of 65 more than doubled. By 2022, there will be 12.5 million job vacancies that need to be replaced due to people leaving the workforce in addition to the two million new vacancies that will be created. However, there are estimated to be just seven million younger people to fill them. Recruiting and retaining older workers will be critical to closing this gap. Now in a major new initiative, the Centre for Ageing Better has gone into partnership with Business in the Community to identify and test what works to recruit, retrain and retain older workers. Through this partnership, it wants to hear from employers across the country who see the benefits of older workers and who are implementing changes to create age friendly workplaces.

In the survey carried out by the Centre for Ageing Better with Ipsos MORI of people aged over 50 in England, 13 percent of those that had retired had done so due to ill health and 7 percent because they were made redundant. Despite the removal of the default retirement age, one in four reported retiring primarily because they had reached state pension age.

Many companies do however, recognise the benefits of older workers, retaining skills and talents, having a diverse multi-generational workforce and better understanding their customers (many of whom are of a similar age). Ageing Better and Business in the Community will seek to strengthen the business case so that more employers can see the benefits of an age friendly workplace, learn from what leading employers are doing and share the most effective policies and practices as widely as possible.

There are already examples of employers seeking to create age-friendly workplaces and retain the skills and experience of older workers.  Business in the Community’s Age at Work Leadership Team, chaired by Andy Briggs, CEO of Aviva UK Life, and including companies such as Boots, the Co-operative Group, Nationwide Building Society, Home Instead Senior Care, the Royal Air Force and the Department for Work and Pensions, is leading the way in seeking solutions on age at work.

Anna Dixon, Chief Executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “Older workers have often built up years of experience and yet many employers are not making the most of this talent. They are either ignoring the opportunity of recruiting and retaining older workers or do not know how to create age friendly workplaces. We know there are employers that understand the benefits, both to their employees and to their organization, who are making progress. We want to learn from them and share this knowledge across the country to speed up change.

“Our research has found that the most important factors for people as they age are health, financial security and social connections. We also know that these factors are influenced by people’s working lives. Our research Later Life in 2015 found that the benefits of work are important – work gives meaning and purpose, provides social contact and keeps us active. As we live longer it is likely many of us will have to work for longer. We want to ensure that people are able to make informed decisions and have control over where, when and how they work in later life.

People aged over 50 comprise over a third of the total workforce, and yet not everyone who wants to work is able to. ‘The Missing Million’ report by Business in the Community estimated that  approximately 1 million people have been made ‘involuntarily workless’ – pushed out of their previous job through a combination of redundancy, ill health or early retirement.

Members of BITC’s Age at Work campaign, which is made up of organisations who have committed to achieving change on age at work, will actively promote age friendly practices both within their organisations and more widely. They will test ideas generated through the partnership with Ageing Better so that their experience can be shared with employers across the country.

Rachael Saunders, Age at Work Director at Business in the Community, said: “Our population is ageing, but employment isn’t working for people over 50. Whilst some can choose to retire, too many people in this age group are pushed out of work, through redundancy, ill health, or because they need to balance work and care.

“Business in the Community’s age at work campaign is here to help employers retain, retrain and recruit older workers, to tackle the dramatic drop off in labour market participation, and make the most of the talent and knowledge of our ageing population. We look forward to working with Ageing Better to test and develop new solutions to support older workers.

“This is a new agenda for responsible business, and our Leadership Team on age at work is committed to developing and testing pioneering solutions, whilst our Championing an Ageing Workforce Award finalists, Barclays, Steelite, and St Ledger Homes of Doncaster are taking a lead in recognising the business case for valuing older workers.”

To find out more about Ageing Better’s approach to influence change among employers, click here  and here for information about Business in the Community’s work on age.

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