Ageless workforce welcomed, despite sickness absence increase

GRiD age research

One third (33%) of UK employers have seen the average age of their workforce increase over the last year, with three in five (59%) believing that the removal of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) meant they were more likely to recruit employees aged 50 and over. Older workers are viewed positively, despite the fact that, according to new research by Group Risk Development (GRiD), over a quarter (27%) of employers report increased absence rates or an increase in age related health conditions since the removal of the DRA.

One in  four (23%) of the employers questioned felt that older workers were a store of knowledge, whilst 22% said they were more likely to be loyal to the company.  A further 14% said that older employees had the ability to motivate other staff.

The abolition of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) from 6th April 2011 has also enabled one in four employers (25%) to retain knowledge and experience within their business and a further 17% felt it has increased the diversity in their  workplace.  Although the study found a very positive response from employers to the UK’s newly “ageless” workforce, it also  suggests  employing  a  more  age  diverse  workforce  is  not without issues – particularly with regards to absence management.

Over a quarter (27%) have seen an increase in absence rates or age related health conditions (such as  diabetes  and  arthritis)  since  the  removal  of  the  DRA,  highlighting  the  potential risks of having an older workforce.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for GRiD, commented: “Older employees can bring a wealth of experience, confidence and mentoring skills to a business so it’s great to see the average age of the workforce increasing.  However, as our survey demonstrates, an increase in absence rates and age related health conditions can present a challenge to employers which can then have a knock-on effect to benefit provision.”