Older employees face a lack of support and negative stereotyping, despite helping to create a wider range of skills and experience in UK businesses, new research from Canada Life Group Insurance reveals.
Two in five (40%) UK workers say having a mix of young and older workers is positive, because it creates a wider range of skills. But at the same time, 22% believe there is a negative stereotype or stigma surrounding older workers, and only 12% think older people are appreciated and respected in the workplace.
More than a third (35%) are concerned that older workers could act as ‘career blockers’, preventing younger staff from climbing the career ladder.
Just (11%) think employers are encouraging older employees to stay in the workplace. Meanwhile, nearly a fifth (18%) of employees believe the government isn’t doing anything to help promote older workers.
Table 1: Challenges and benefits associated with older workers
|Thinking about working for longer, do you agree that…?||% agree|
|A mix of older and younger employees is positive as it creates a wider range of skills||40%|
|It will be harder for younger people to move up the career ladder||35%|
|Older workers will have to re-train or learn new skills to stay in work||31%|
|Employers may choose to give staff incentives to retire||31%|
|The working dynamic will be changed as older people have more health issues||26%|
|There is a negative stereotype/stigma surrounding older workers||22%|
|The government isn’t doing anything to help promote older workers||18%|
|Older people are appreciated and respected in the working environment||12%|
|Employers are encouraging older employees to stay in the workplace||11%|
|The government is helping to promote older workers||11%|
Older workers need more flexible working options
Flexible working (36%) and more part-time opportunities (31%) are seen as most important to support an older workforce. An additional 14% believe new skills training is most important.
As workers age and become naturally more susceptible to ill-health, employee benefits that support staff financially through periods of sickness are increasingly important. However, Canada Life Group’s research also shows the support services provided alongside protection products are just as important as the financial benefit.
Almost a quarter (24%) of employees with an opinion* on the most useful protection products and services in retirement say income protection would be most valued, while 17% cite critical illness cover and 14% say the same for life insurance. But in total 43% think support services – providing access to an Employee Assistance Programme (20%), rehabilitation services (14%) or second medical opinion providers (9%) – are most useful for those planning to work beyond the age of 65.
Paul Avis, Marketing Director at Canada Life Group Insurance, comments:
“As our population ages and the traditional retirement age becomes a distant memory, it’s inevitable older employees will become more commonplace in the UK workforce. This is arguably a positive change, allowing employers to capitalise on the skills of multiple generations in their workforce. However, a persistent stigma and lack of respect for older staff threatens to impact this type of worker’s wellbeing and productivity.
“Companies who provide appropriate support for older workers will be the ones who benefit most from multi-generational working. Our research shows it’s not just financial benefits that are most useful for older workers, but also the support services that are provided alongside these. Support services provide daily value by helping to improve staff health and wellbeing and giving vital help to enable a return to work when illness does strike.”