workingwise.co.uk survey highlights barriers faced by older workers

A survey by workingwise.co.uk found high levels of perceived age discrimination and a sense that older workers’ experience is not valued by employers.

Age diversity

 

Over half of workers over 50 still describe themselves as ambitious and half plan to work beyond retirement, but large numbers have faced age discrimination and 73% say employers don’t appreciate their experience, according to a survey by new jobs and advice website workingwise.co.uk.

The survey found 46% of over 330 over 50’s polled said they had faced age discrimination; and 32% said they had faced age discrimination in relation to a job promotion.

Workingwise.co.uk is a new website for workers over 50 linked to workingmums.co.uk and workingdads.co.uk. Like them it offers a bridge between employers and candidates, advertising flexible jobs and highlighting best practice for employers as well as news, advice and support for workers. In the new year, the site will advertise flexible jobs. Employers who advertise jobs on this platform will sign up to a Top Employers Charter which shows they understand the particular challenges facing this demographic.

Three quarters of older workers polled said their motivation to work had changed since they started work. Although money was by far the biggest motivation, mental stimulation ranked second and making a difference third, significantly higher than, for instance, status and the social side of work.

Only 21% said their company had any policies aimed at over 50s that they knew of. 16% said their employer had a carer policy; 8% said their employer offered mid-life MOTs/reviews; 10% said their employer had a returner programme and 27% said their employer offered upskilling for older employees in areas such as technology.

The survey also found a big appetite for flexible working. 32% of older workers said they had researched flexible working before applying for their last role and 46% did so before accepting a new job. Twenty seven per cent asked at interview about flexible working and 22% would not have taken the job  without flexible working.

Over a third of respondents – three quarters of whom were women – said they worked part time and 42% had taken a career break and were struggling to get back to work. 37% said their career had not really progressed since they had children.

In the last two years there has been growing interest in how employers support women going through the menopause at work. The survey found nearly a third of women who had experienced symptoms of the menopause had suffered severe symptoms. Only 10% of women had spoken to their employer about the menopause.

Gillian Nissim, founder of workingwise.co.uk, said: “We are delighted to launch workingwise.co.uk and attempt to shift employers’ perceptions with regard to older workers. Given the ageing workforce, ongoing skills shortages and the rich seam of experience and maturity represented by the over 50s age group, it makes good business sense for employers to seek both to recruit and retain them. Yet many don’t and relatively few are taking active steps to change their policies and practices regarding the recruitment, retention and retraining of older workers who often face particular challenges. They may have taken career breaks and be looking to return after their families have grown; they may have caring responsibilities for older relatives or partners; some older women may struggle with the effects of the menopause; older workers may have health issues or want to reduce their hours as they approach or seek to work beyond retirement; and they may face age discrimination.

“workingwise.co.uk builds on the expertise of workingmums.co.uk and workingdads.co.uk to create a bridge between older workers and progressive employers. We hope that this will be the start of a shake-up in how older workers are viewed and will be part of a more holistic, lifecycle approach to our working lives.”



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