As part of its Fuller Working Lives action plan, aimed at making the business case for later life working, and for tackling the issue of involuntary labour market exit of people in their 50s and early 60s, the Department for Work and Pensions commissioned a survey of employer attitudes to employing older workers.
A total of 689 business decision makers in private sector businesses of all sizes within Great Britain were polled in February 2015 to explore their organisation’s policies and practices around later life working.
The key findings of the survey Attitudes of Employers to Fuller Working Lives, published today, are:
- 82 two per cent of respondents said their organisation currently has workers aged 50 or over. Nearly half (49 per cent) of respondents said that up to a quarter of their workforce was aged 50 or over and 12 per cent of respondents said that over half their workforce was age 50 or over.
- 41 per cent of respondents said their organisation had hired someone aged 50 or over in the past 12 months.
- When asked what support for later life working was offered by their organisation, the most common response was the opportunity to work part time (35 per cent of respondents said their organisation offered this). This was followed by the opportunity to work flexibly (33 per cent) and the opportunity to gradually reduce hours (29 per cent). Nearly a third (32 per cent) of organisations do not offer any opportunities specifically to support later life working.
- Of those that did not have policies in place to support later life working, 28 per cent of respondents said it was because it was ‘managed on a case by case basis by line managers’.
When asked about retirement planning provision, 30 per cent of respondents said their organisation give workers information about pension planning. 17 per cent distribute printed information, and 17 per cent have external firms deliver retirement planning seminars. A third (33 per cent) of respondents said their organisations do not currently offer any retirement planning provision.
The vast majority of respondents (87 per cent) disagreed that the specific skills of workers aged 50 and over are not suitable for their business, compared with 11 per cent who agreed with this statement.
Training for workers aged 50 or over was considered to offer a good return on investment by 71 per cent of employers, compared with 21 per cent who disagreed.
Two-thirds (66 per cent) of respondents disagreed that workers aged 50 or over in their organisation were often not willing to undertake training to learn new skills or tasks.
Over three-quarters (76 per cent) of respondents said that the ‘experience of workers aged 50 or over’ was a main benefit of having them in their organisation. This was followed by the ‘reliability of workers age 50 or over’ (65 per cent) and the ‘mentoring workers age 50 or over can provide to new workers’ (54 per cent). Only 3 per cent of respondents thought that there were no benefits to having workers aged 50 or over in their organisation.
Over a quarter (26 per cent) of respondents said there are no challenges from having workers aged 50 or over in their organisation. Health related absence was most frequently cited by respondents as a main challenge of having workers aged 50 or over in their organisation, selected by 30 per cent of respondents. This was followed by concerns over employees retiring soon (28 per cent) and out of date skills or qualifications (21 per cent).
21 per cent of respondents said that workers aged 50 or over were more productive than younger workers (68 per cent said they were equally productive). Nearly a third (32 per cent) said that workers aged 50 or over were easier to manage than younger workers (54 per cent said they were equally easy to manage. Over half (53 per cent) said that workers aged over 50 were more reliable than younger workers (42 per cent said they were equally reliable).