Building a more age diverse workforce

Aviva was highly recommended in this year’s WM People Top Employer Awards in the Best for Older Workers category. Here they talk about what they do to promote greater age diversity.

Portrait of a mature African American businessman on his way to work.

 

Nearly a quarter of Aviva’s workforce is over 50 and the insurance firm is clear that supporting that workforce is essential to its people strategy and to ensuring the UK has a future-ready workforce. 

So far they seem to be on track: the average tenure for over 50s in the business is 18 years and a 2022 Generations Study found that 41% of Baby Boomers [workers over 58] plan to continue growing their career at Aviva through retraining, enhancing their skillset or progressing to more senior roles while a further 26% are comfortable in their existing role for the foreseeable future, with only 33% planning to retire. 

What’s more, average employee satisfaction scores in internal surveys show over 80% of over 50s recommend Aviva as a great place to work while over 80% believe that Aviva values their health and wellbeing and over 85% believe they have the flexibility to meet their work and personal responsibilities.  

Recruitment and beyond

Aviva’s age-friendly approach starts from recruitment. To drive age-inclusive hiring it makes sure that the language and imagery on its careers websites, adverts, web copy and social media are age-friendly. It also uses Textio to write non-biased, age-friendly adverts.

Aviva has a standardised interview approach, using a strengths-based methodology and all hiring managers are training in inclusive hiring. In addition it is a Disability Confident employer, meaning it offers an interview to anyone who advises that they have a disability and who meets the minimum criteria for the role.

Once hired, there is support and a feedback mechanism available through Aviva’s Generations Community which is sponsored by its Chief Financial Officer & Chief Brand Officer. In 2023 the group did research to help Aviva understand how to best support its employees. This group has recently rebranded internally with the slogan ‘For all ages’ to emphasise that it is about multigenerational working. It now has a good mix of ages on its steering committee, with at least four members per generation and no significant sway towards any one age.

Aviva is keen to explore similarities and differences across the generations in its workforce. It did a survey recently to ascertain approaches to communications and found that the younger employees are the more likely they were to prefer communicating over Teams than email, with the oldest and youngest generations being the least likely to want to have their cameras on during Teams calls. Additionally, they saw that Gen Z were the only generation that generally did not expect a rapid response from people just because they were ‘available’ on Teams.

Externally, Aviva created the Insurance Age Diversity Roundtable with 10 other insurance companies, sharing insight and learnings. A key takeaway was how similar the issues are in different companies and how much work needs to be done to achieve age equality

Aviva has also signed the Centre for Ageing Better’s [CfAB] Age Friendly Employer Pledge and supported the CfAB to reach a wider network of employers via its corporate client network. And it is a foundation company participating in the Workplace Age Diversity Index which allows companies to benchmark themselves on how well they are doing on age diversity.

Initiatives for older workers

When it comes to older workers specifically, Aviva has a series of initiatives available. They include Financial Education Seminars, ranging from My Retirement, My Way and midlife MOTs to Your Financial Future career stage and financial education seminars to allow employees at different life stages to focus on the decisions that matter to them at those points in time.

Midlife MOTs are aimed at those over 40 who are starting to consider their financial future and cover three main areas: wealth, wellbeing and planning for retirement. Attendees can ask questions via Teams. They also receive an email at the end of the session, signposting to how to get further help and assistance if required (including one-to-one conversations regarding their own individual circumstances). They are directed to a financial advisor if they need one.

The My Retirement My Way seminar focuses on information about pensions and how to find out about entitlements. Topics covered include: lifestyle; financial needs in retirement; retirement savings; personal taxation; and next steps.

Aviva also puts a strong emphasis on continuous learning and that means many of its apprentices are older. These devote 20% of their working time to upskilling. While apprenticeships have been traditionally associated with people starting out in the world of work, Aviva is keen to use them to help established employees, including older workers, deepen their skills and gain qualifications in their existing role. The company has 10 apprentices who are over 50 and 110 who are aged between 35 and 50, which is about a quarter of the apprenticeship programme.

From flexible working to health

All of this is set against a flexible working culture, including home and hybrid working and flexi hours as well as part-time and term-time working, compressed hours and job shares. 

Flexible working lies at the heart of wellbeing and, health-wise, Aviva has signed the Wellbeing of Women Menopause Workplace Pledge to address the stigma that still exists around the menopause and to support employees who are going through the menopause. The company’s internal Menopause Support Hub is for anyone experiencing symptoms or supporting someone who is, such as a partner or work colleague and is full of information and recorded webinars.

It also offers employees a digital GP App which ties together prescriptions and consultations and the Peppy Menopause App offering advice and support on all things menopause. Aviva’s Menopause Support Group is a virtual (and face-to-face) meeting place where everyone is welcome and people can seek advice and share stories. 

Many older workers are busy looking after the health needs of others as carers. Employees with caring responsibilities can benefit from Aviva’s Carers Leave Policy which includes five days paid leave. This covers people who care for a parent or other dependent adult (there is no requirement to be a blood relative) or a child with a long-term medical or neurodivergent condition. Alongside this, Aviva runs regular events, including awareness-raising sessions and a Young Carers Action Day, shares stories to promote the policy and provides training across the company to explain what being a carer is and the support available to them. And there are monthly carers coffee catch-ups either virtually or face-to-face for carers to share their stories with each other.

Despite all that Aviva is doing, they are not smug and know there is still a lot of progress to be made on age diversity. Jennifer Austin, Aviva Generations UK Co-Chair, says: “There is still so much to do in the age diversity space and we’re really excited to see some of our plans develop over the next few years. Collaborative industry activities such as the Insurance Age Diversity Roundtable are also so important for driving real change as that safe space to share learnings and failings is what will help us all improve as we collectively work towards a better future.”

*Aviva features in the WM People Best Practice Report based on the WM People Top Employer Award winners. Click here to find out more information and request a copy.



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