Businesses urged to engage older workers 

Employers should make a concerted effort to engage their older workers when it comes to their career and personal development or risk losing out on this loyal group of employees, research suggests.

With the phasing out of the default retirement age, older workers are set to account for a growing proportion of the UK’s working population.

Emphasising the trend of putting off retirement, a study from AXA PPP finds that 15 per cent of tomorrow’s would-be retirees – the over-50s – plan to work into their 70s and beyond.

However, nearly a third of over-50s (30 per cent) say they don’t feel they have a career path, compared with (a less pessimistic) 13 per cent of those under 50.

Furthermore, while the same proportion, 50 per cent, of employees either side of 50 reported having had a one-to-one meeting with their line manager in the past six months, only 15 per cent of the older workers had discussed their career with their line manager, compared with twice the number (29 per cent) of those under 50.

A third (33 per cent) of the under-50s view their career as ‘progressing’, compared with 12 per cent of respondents aged over 50. Indeed, 23 per cent of over-50s believe their career path is winding down. All of this leaves one in four of the over-50s considering looking for a new job in the next two years.

James Freeston, sales and marketing director at AXA PPP healthcare says, ‘It’s crucial for employers to have positive, constructive career discussions with all employees. Our research suggests that this is dropping-off for the over-50 age group and, as such, employers risk leaving this important segment of their workforce feeling under-appreciated and marginalised.

‘By maintaining a positive relationship with older workers, not only are employers more likely to keep them fully engaged in their roles, they can make the most of their experience and knowledge – ensuring they remain valued, motivated and productive throughout their working lives.’

The study also reveals that one in six over-50s feel their line manager supports them. Nearly half (49 per cent) of this group reports to a younger line manager.

‘Older workers’ loyalty and experience can be an invaluable asset that employers can harness to the benefit of the whole business. Bringing older and younger workers together through the likes of mentoring programmes, for example, can promote knowledge-sharing across the ages,’ Freeston adds.

‘By taking positive steps now to engage the UK’s ageing workforce, businesses will be better placed as they move into the future.’

Further reading on older workers

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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