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Employers introduce initiatives to support older workers

New research from Group Risk Development (GRiD), the trade body for the group risk industry has revealed that more than a quarter of employers (27 per cent) have introduced flexible working initiatives to meet the needs of their older members of staff and keep their businesses running smoothly.

With the abolishment of the Default Retirement Age, employers are looking at ways to accommodate an ageing workforce. Of those employers questioned 19 per cent have modified roles, 16 per cent have changed their procedures, 14 per cent have introduced different working patterns such as including more breaks, whilst a further 10 per cent have introduced training for older workers to ensure they feel as up to speed as younger staff.

The research has also found that employers have seen an 11 per cent increase in absence rates due to an older workforce, while 20 per cent have seen a rise in age-related conditions such as diabetes and arthritis – though 15 per cent have refocused their health, wellbeing and absence initiatives in order to better manage these members of staff. Fifty-nine per cent claim to have not yet seen any change in absence rates whatsoever, even though the average age of their workforce has increased.

When asked what their priorities around health and wellbeing were, 22 per cent of
 employers said dealing with an ageing workforce was among their top three.

Katharine Moxham, spokesperson for Group Risk Development (GRiD), said:

“It is reassuring to see employers introducing initiatives to support older workers, as these employees can bring another level of skill to a business that years of experience has given them. However, it is equally important to recognise the challenge that the resultant increase in absence rates and age-related conditions can have on a business.

“This is also about protecting businesses. To reap the benefits that older workers can bring, employers must address the possible challenges ahead and act now to ensure they have robust initiatives and benefits in place to ensure they can effectively manage the health and attendance of an older workforce when the time comes.”

Of the employees asked how their needs will change as the UK workforce ages, 36 per cent said they thought they would have to supplement their pension by continuing to work, whilst 22 per cent said they would want to carry on working for enjoyment and routine regardless of their financial position. A further 35 per cent admitted they would have to save more to meet longer life expectancy. However, 20 per cent said that in order to stay in work, they would need increasingly more health-related support and 24 per cent felt they would need help staying fit and active.

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