Why it’s time for employers to take action on age

A new report from Aon outlines why employers should recognise the challenges presented by an ageing workforce.

Older workers, experience


Recognising and addressing the issues facing older workers makes business sense as the workforce ages – particularly in light of the Covid experience, according to a new report.

The report by multinational professional services firm Aon, The ageing population: why it’s time to take notice, says feedback from employees suggests ways to become a more age-friendly employer include flexible working policies, a supportive and understanding line manager and additional paid leave for caring purposes. However, the report says over a third of working carers currently feel that no support is being made available from their employer.

Take action on age

The benefits for employers of providing age-friendly policies are outlined and include boosting employee wellbeing from physical, emotional and social to financial and career wellbeing.

The report also highlights the risks of not doing anything, particularly to address health. It says: “We know that an ageing population already inherently presents a growing challenge to employers and this will be further exaggerated if increasing numbers are in a poor state of health.” For instance, higher average ages amongst insured populations leads to an increased risk of claim and will drive up underlying rating and therefore premiums on benefits such as life assurance, income protection and medical insurance. It adds: “Costs may be further impacted by increased actual claim numbers especially when little is being done to mitigate the impact of ageing on employees underlying state of health.”

The report highlights the impact at work of not supporting carers, for instance, increased stress.

Moreover, it says 55% report that they suffered from depression as a result of their caring role and more than two thirds say they are using their own income and savings to cover the cost of care while two in five say they struggle to make ends meet.

Covid has exacerbated the pressure on carers while gaps in state funding for adult social care mean things could get worse in the short term.  The report says that many employers and employees will need to reassess whether the kind of ultra flexibility offered to carers during the lockdowns remain financially and logistically viable.

It outlines a pyramid of policies and actions that could make a difference and create “a robust programme of support”, starting with funding for long term care as well as short term and emergency care. Other important actions include more flexible working hours, specialist elder care advice and guidance for employees, support for carers and help to increase healthy life years.

It states: “Whatever solutions are ultimately sourced, true value will only be realised if these are aligned to real need from [employers’] own workforce and are delivered through a targeted engagement strategy.”

Addressing the issues it has outlined will also boost diversity and inclusion, the report states, supporting the so-called sandwich generation facing dual caring responsibilities and supporting carers, many of whom are women and helping those in lower-income brackets who are more likely to provide more hours of informal care and to leave the workforce because of high care costs.

The full report is available here.

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