Understanding older workers better

A new report from the CIPD outline ways in which employers can support older workers better.

Older man looking serious


More flexible working, early and ongoing support for health and wellbeing and better training options would all help older workers to stay in and thrive in work longer, according to a new report.

The Understanding older workers report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development [CIPD] is a response to the fact that people are living longer and the proportion of older workers in the UK workforce is increasing.

The report says this means that employers will need to improve how they attract, manage and develop people as they age. The increase in technological change, rising skill and labour shortages and more restrictive immigration policies are just some of the factors that make this even more important for employers.

Sector challenges

The report highlights the challenges that different sectors face in responding to these changes and what this means for their resourcing and people management strategies. It covers everything from where and how older workers work to issues such as flexible working, health and caring.

On health and wellbeing it says that, although people are generally living longer lives, more than half of workers have a long-term health condition by the time they reach 60.  It adds that around one in four workers are reaching the point at which a health condition limits the work they can do before they reach retirement age. Some will exit the labour market early, while others will be limited in the kind and amount of work they can do, says the report, adding that employers can mitigate this by making reasonable adjustments that facilitate people working with a health condition.

Its recommendations on health and wellbeing include providing early access to occupational health services for workers who have recurrent or long-term health conditions, the national implementation of a preventative and targeted occupational health service to support organisations and ensure workers get early access to support and ensuring managers can facilitate the provision of reasonable adjustments for those with a disability or long-term health condition.

On flexible working, it recommends increasing the availability and range of flexibility employers offer, including making the right to request flexible working a day one right.

On skills and training it says employers, and particularly managers, should guard against assumptions that older workers are less likely to be interested in training or career progression. The CIPD is calling for the introduction of enhanced and buildable individual learning accounts (ILAs). These would be designed around the principles outlined in the CIPD’s Skills to Grow report and should primarily be targeted at adult upskilling.

Additionally, it wants to see changes in labour statistics so that they include people over 64.

*CIPD has also published another report, Understanding older workers in Scotland, which focuses specifically on older workers in Scotland, where by 2045, the number of people aged 65 and over is projected to grow by nearly 30%.

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