Wellbeing and flexibility are the keys to workplace success

A new poll from BSI claims that employee health and employer flexibility are key elements to harness a future age-diverse workforce. Evolving Together: Flourishing in the age-diverse workforce considers how today’s business leaders think businesses and policymakers can respond to demographic changes to enable individuals to thrive and organizations to grow as greater numbers work beyond the age of 65.

Alongside appetite for support for long-term health and for greater flexibility, it suggests that business leaders want government support to create the conditions needed to attract, train and retain age-diverse talent and experience – through tax benefits or other financial incentives. Asked to rank priorities for policy action respondents backed tax breaks to encourage employers to invest in employee health and well-being. They also prioritized financial incentives to encourage them to diversify the talent pool by recruiting older people or investing in retraining (2/13), and subsidies for employing workers of different ages (5/13). There was, however, limited appetite for governments to formally raise the retirement age (13/13) or legislate to prohibit age-discrimination (11/13).

Senior professionals from nine countries spanning seven sectors prioritized structural shifts – how, where and when work is done, the economic realities and career pathways, formal policies on leave – over a focus on workplace culture. While health, flexibility, renumeration, skills training and acknowledgement of caring responsibilities were the top six priorities for individuals (see Table 2), being part of an inclusive culture and the provision of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) training were prioritized by less than a third of respondents globally.

Asked how businesses could make the age-diverse workforce a success, the same was true, indicating that to future-proof their operations they should focus on delivering flexibility (1/14), followed by the provision of support around physical health, psychological and mental wellbeing (2/14), providing opportunities for retraining or returnships (3/14) and formal compassionate and personal leave policies (5/14). Workplace accessibility measures, training staff around diversity and inclusion (9/14), and age-blind recruitment policies (12/14) were all towards the bottom of the priority list (see Table 3).

Overall, responses were similar across markets and sectors, indicating that despite social and cultural differences workers globally have much in common, mostly a united focus on health and mental well-being, showing that working for longer will require a thoughtful, joined-up approach to care.

Notably, women ranked creating an inclusive culture including training staff around diversity and inclusion a top five priority (5/14), whereas men did not (9/14). French respondents placed greater value on delivery of smart cities and communities (5/13), while the built environment sector prioritized a public education campaign to break down stereotypes (6/13).

With the AI transformation gathering pace, respondents identified the value of upskilling people in new tools. They ranked pivotal measures such as providing opportunities for retraining people to new roles throughout their careers or supporting returnships (3/14) and a focus on ensuring people remain challenged (4 /14). This suggests there is a key opportunity to enable experienced workers to remain in the workforce for longer and flourish in the future workplace with skills maintenance and development.