In the past, it was generally accepted that once you hit your 60s (or even your 50s in some cases) you could begin winding down to retirement. But times have changed … a lot.
As a result of low birth rates and increasing life expectancy, not to mention the fact that pensions are getting smaller, the working population in the UK is steadily getting older. And this fact hasn’t escaped many forward-thinking businesses.
A survey of senior European executives carried out by the Economist Intelligence Unit in 2014, found that almost 3 quarters expected the number of their employees aged 60+ to increase by 2020. 22% expected the number to increase significantly.
The same survey explored attitudes to older workers, and found that the majority of respondents believed older workers are no less productive, have greater skills and aren’t any less motivated than their younger counterparts.
A survey carried out the following year for the Department of Work and Pensions discovered the vast majority of employers in the UK thought the specific skills of workers aged 50+ were suitable for their business.
More than 3 quarters of those employers said the experience of workers aged 50+ was a main benefit of employing them, followed by the reliability of workers in this age group and the mentoring they provide to new workers.
It’s just as well, since UK businesses are going to need more older workers in the future. According to the government, the over-50s make up 27% of the current workforce, and by 2020, it will be a third. A report by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) also claims that by 2022, there will be an estimated 13.5 million job vacancies to fill, but only 7 million school and college leavers to fill them.
In addition, a recent Golden Age Index report by Price Waterhouse Cooper suggests that if the UK employment rate for people aged 55 to 69 were the same as that of Sweden, the country’s GDP would increase by around £100 billion. Older workers still have a large role to play.
Lots to offer
Despite the fact that attitudes towards older workers in the UK are changing, they may not be changing fast enough. A report by the Department for Work and Pensions claims that although 88% of employers believe older workers can bring skills and benefits to their business, people aged 50+ are the least likely to be recruited once they’re out of work.
So if older workers are still being overlooked, what should employers be made aware of to persuade them to hire more employees over 50?
Why you should be employing the over 50s
Here are a few reasons why employing more people in their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond would be good for business:
The fact that most people are living longer and in better health, combined with changes to the state pension age, means many people will be able to, or may have to work later in life. Businesses will need to adjust their attitudes to older workers in order to thrive amongst these changes.