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As life expectancy continues to increase, people are continuing to work for longer. As well as the obvious financial reasons, many people choose to work beyond the traditional retirement age because of the range of benefits employment brings, such as social interaction and a sense of job satisfaction and fulfilment. And there are of course countless benefits of having more mature employees on the team – they can bring to the table valuable experience, skills, and knowledge. In the UK today, one in seven workers is over the age of 65. Faced with an ageing workforce, how should employers respond to this demographic shift and how can they be more supportive of older employees’ needs?
Stamp out stereotypes
Stereotyping, pigeonholing, or discriminating in any way should never be acceptable in the workplace. Educate your team to recognise any potential bias or preconceptions and, whilst recognising the unique needs of older employees, avoid sweeping generalisations. Each team member should be treated as an individual.
Understand their unique needs
Older employees may have differing needs to younger employees when it comes to ensuring the work environment is conducive to a productive day’s work. The best way to gauge this is to speak openly with them and encourage feedback about their individual needs. It is also important to recognise that an older employee’s needs may change over time, so it’s a good idea to schedule in regular updates to assess the mental and physical demands of their particular job role and how they feel they are responding to them.
Practical ways to help older employees
Employers have a duty to make any reasonable adjustments necessary to enable their employees to do their job. This could apply to the working environment, the tasks expected to be completed, and / or the working hours.
Ask the experts
Understanding the needs of an ageing workforce and responding to them appropriately is not just about reducing the risk of employers’ liability claims. It’s about creating a healthier, happier, more productive and fulfilling workplace for all. If you would like to discuss further ways you can support your employees of all ages, get in touch with YourGP’s team of Occupational Health specialists on 0131 225 5656 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your appointment.
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