The impact of an ageing workforce on businesses is a serious concern for employers, according to new research. Around a third of employers are already seeing a rise in the average age of employees, and a recent report showed many firms are worried about how potential health issues among older workers may affect their day-to-day operations.
Average ages are rising for workers as a result of increasing longevity coupled with scrapping the default retirement age. Around 29% of employers are seeing a significant rise in the average age of their workers, and 37% report they expect to see a significant rise soon.
Financial uncertainty for the over 55s about their spending power in retirement is also encouraging them to stay in their jobs for longer to save more cash for their later years.
Concern about health issues
Half of the employers thought that working beyond traditional retirement age brought positive benefits to the workplace, although 35% were seriously concerned that health issues could have implications for businesses with an ageing workforce.
Key concerns for employers are:
● More sickness absence (24%)
● Absence with serious health conditions (26%)
● Different medical issues to younger people (70%)
Despite these concerns, nearly a third of employers thought that they should review the support and health advice they offered to staff, while around a quarter thought they offer training to spot the signs of serious illnesses, like dementia.
More than a third of businesses thought that they should consider flexible working for older staff.
The survey by insurance company Aviva found the prospect of working in to later years is not just an issue for employers. While 14% of employees worried working past traditional retirement age would wear them out, 37% thought that it would benefit them to stay active and mentally challenged for longer.
Private health insurance
Responses from workers also showed that the needs and values of an older workforce will also be different. Employees in the 25-34 age group did not value private health insurance as a desirable benefit, but 25% of over 55’s thought that it would help them to stay healthy.
Dr Doug wright, medical director for Aviva UK Health said: “Life expectancy has been increasing for some time now and we are clearly seeing more people working past the traditional retirement age to meet their financial commitments or to help keep themselves fit and active. With that, employers are undoubtedly going to see some employees with conditions that are more common in older people, such as certain forms of cancer and cardiovascular disorders.
“It’s encouraging to see from our report that employers recognise the role they hold in helping to keep their employees healthy – and in particular the need to adapt the support and benefits they offer to suit the differing healthcare needs of an older workforce.”