As the world is ageing, older populations are becoming the majority, and it has an impact on the workforce and retirement. The so-called “boomer” generation are living longer, healthier lives, and the 55-plus group is the fastest growing segment of the workforce. The latest ONS Market statistics show that older workers represent almost a 3rd of the UKs workforce and many workers aged 50-64 hope to work longer and ease into retirement. Innovative employers have a business opportunity to re-design this career-stage, and with moderate changes they can reap the rewards of supporting a diverse workforce.
The global pandemic has seen a period of accelerated change and adjustment. It has also been caused people to reflect on their purpose and assess if their current lifestyle and work situation is still right for them. As a result of this as the labour market recovers a significant proportion of workers are not returning, this phenomenon has been named “The Great Resignation” and amongst older employees “The Great Retirement.” (1) For businesses to avoid this potential crisis of losing skills, experience, and knowledge they need to embrace more flexible ways of working that will demonstrate an innovative culture and also attract a more diverse range of talent.
The Centre for Ageing Better warns that employers need to directly support this group to mitigate the risk; Employers need to “be more age-friendly, support training, development and progression for older workers, and remove age bias from recruitment.” Employers and talent teams need to take notice of this shift in mentality, reflect, and act if they are to retain skills and knowledge or recruit experienced talent.
In the US, the advocacy and support group “Respectful Exits” has a mission to transform broken 20th century workplace habits into innovative 21st century policies and practices. It shares evidence, provides support, and offers some solutions.
The UK government has also been supporting research and innovation in this space through the Healthy Ageing Challenge. This is not merely a workplace issue; by recognising the lifetime experience of older talent within your team the business can innovate in policies, products, and services for a growing customer sector. Evidence shows 82% of people over 55 years (2) old said their favourite retail brand did not understand them and what they need. With the growth of “User-centric” design and interest in the customer journey, why is it those older consumers are getting neglected?
Whether it is in retail, services, or professional sector, by recognising the skills and expertise of older team members a business can integrate knowledge throughout their process and become more competitive. This goes beyond a workplace Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Accessibility (IDEA) strategy, but integrates into the business culture, supports innovation, and can enhance reputation.
Dr Jo Gooding (she/her) is an educator, researcher, and expert in design for disability. She is experienced in inclusive design, conducting research, mentoring entrepreneurs, and delivers reviews and workshops on Disability Inclusive Design for Business. She is co-founder of a consultancy supporting business in the adaptive fashion and clothing sector. If you would like to know more, please contact her at email@example.com or through LinkedIn
(2) 2017 survey by Digital Marketing Magazine