Guidance published for SMEs on management and wellbeing of older workers

Guidance published on supporting older workers wellnessSince the the Default Retirement Age (DRA) was abolished in 2011, there’s been a growing awareness that the UK population is ageing at a rapid rate. One in six people in Britain are now over 65, with eight million workers aged 50 and over. But what is often overlooked is that the majority of older workers work for small and medium sized businesses. Of the 8 million workers who are 50 and over, 5.2 million work for businesses with less than 250 employees. Now in the first of its kind to specifically target smaller employers, new guidance published by Healthy Working Lives, part of NHS Health Scotland, aims to provide advice on hiring and managing older employees. Managing Healthy Ageing Workforces has been written by Dr Matt Flynn, Director of Newcastle University’s Centre for Research into the Older Workforce, and Kathleen Houston, Development Manager for Healthy Working Lives.

Dr Flynn said: “Older workers present a great opportunity for businesses in being able to harness their talent and expertise.

“In many firms, but especially in smaller companies, more experienced workers play a critical role in passing on not just technical skills to the younger generation, but also the tacit organisational knowledge that businesses need to retain their competitive advantage.

“Small businesses, for example, need employees who can be ‘all-rounders’, and jobseekers who are rich in experience are also likely to be multi-skilled.

“The problem small business leaders have is that they simply don’t know where to find the experienced job seekers they want – this guide seeks to address that, as well as providing practical advice on how best to manage an older workforce.

“The contribution of older workers to the British economy is undeniable. We must ensure that as people stay in work for longer their extended working lives are healthy, sustainable and mutually beneficial to both employees and employers.”

Kathleen Houston, Development Manager for Healthy Working Lives said: “In the coming years, many more people will continue working into their sixties and seventies. It is vital for business owners and managers to be able to get the best from ageing workforces.”

The guide was written based on discussions with SME business leaders in Scotland, organised by Healthy Working Lives, and by the Surrey Chamber of Commerce and South East of England Forum on Ageing.

The report can be found at the Healthy Working Lives website here.