Employers’ ageing-workforce concerns highlighted
Research from Aviva suggests that workforce demographics are changing, prompting fears that health issues often associated with an ageing workforce will start to impact on the performance of companies.
The insurance giant’s annual Health of the Workplace research, which surveyed 1000 UK employers and 1000 employees, reveals that nearly a third (29 per cent) of employers are witnessing a rise in the average age of their workforce, while 37 per cent expect to see it get older in the future. The removal of the default retirement age, combined with better health generally, increased longevity and financial pressures, are see as factors influencing this trend.
The research shows that 38 per cent of employer respondents believe that health issues associated with an ageing workforce will impact their business, even though half believe there are positive benefits for individuals working past the traditional retirement age. Employers’ main concerns are:
- a rise in sickness absence rates (24 per cent);
- an increase in more serious health conditions among older employees compared with their younger colleagues (26 per cent); and
- health issues in the workplace will increase because older employees suffer from different medical complications than younger employees (70 per cent).
According to the study, employers are recognising the need to review the support and benefits they offer older workers, including offering different health advice and health benefits and undertaking training to help spot signs of serious illness, such as dementia. Over a third (36 per cent) also recognised that they may need to introduce flexible working hours for older employees.
Older employees surveyed are increasingly valuing benefits such as private medical insurance, although two fifths (37 per cent) believe there are health benefits to be had by staying physically and mentally active in work.
Dr Doug Wright, medical director for Aviva UK Health, said: “It is encouraging to see from our report that employers recognise the role they hold in helping keep their employees healthy – and, in particular, the need to adapt the support and benefits they offer to suit the differing health care needs of an older workforce.”
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