Companies need to retain valuable older employees and working carers

Britain’s employers are increasingly reliant on the skills and talents of older workers to boost productivity, according to new research.

A survey released by CIPD the professional body for HR and people development, revealed around 30 per cent of the UK workforce is currently over 50, compared to 20 per cent in the 1990s.

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The ageing population means that there will be an estimated nine million carers in the UK by 2037, many of whom will be trying to juggle both care and employment.

The CIPD’s report has been launched by Baroness Ros Altmann CBE, Minister of State for Pensions and former Government Business Champion for Older Workers.

Rachel Suff, CIPD Employment Relations Adviser, said: “We need to legitimise and support working carers and their place in the labour market. These individuals account for an increasing share of the UK’s workforce, but often feel uncomfortable talking about their situation which results in it being a hidden issue.

“Employers have a responsibility to raise awareness and train line managers to support employees with caring responsibilities and help them to stay in work. They also need to foster an open and inclusive culture, where employees feel supported, rather than in fear of how external factors might affect their job.

“Ideally, employers should develop an approach that values people for who they are, whatever their age or personal circumstances, and aims to support them in achieving harmony between their needs and desires inside and outside the workplace.

“Flexible working is key to extending working life for people in a wide range of circumstances, and should be a critical component of any strategy to support working carers. This doesn’t just mean offering non-traditional hours, it’s also about creating more flexibility in roles and areas of responsibility which enable people to cope with their personal and professional commitments.”

As well as more support for working carers, all five countries recognised a growing need to address the wider issue of how to optimise older workers’ active participation in the labour market and support increasingly extended working lives.

Older workers still experience prejudice from employers, colleagues and society in general, with stereotypical attitudes often reflecting misconceptions about their flexibility, health, ability to learn and their general skills and qualification levels.

The research shows the scope for creating more age-inclusive workplaces in the UK – indeed, CIPD research has shown that employees value working in an age-diverse organisation, with benefits such as knowledge-sharing, enhanced customer experience and different perspectives.

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