The removal of the Default Retirement Age, increased longevity and continued financial pressures on the over 55s mean nearly a third of employers are already seeing a rise in the average age of their workforce, while 37 per cent expect to see it get older in the future. And although half of employers believe there are positive benefits for individuals working past the traditional retirement age, nearly two fifths predict that health issues associated with an ageing workforce will impact their business.
A quarter of employers are concerned that an increase in the numbers of older employees will see sickness absence rates rise. A similar proportion of employers were concerned that older employees would be absent with more serious conditions than their younger colleagues. Not surprisingly, nearly three-quarters of employers believe that health issues in the workplace will increase because older employees suffer from different medical complications to younger employees.
Embracing this change in the age of their workforce and recognising the need to review the support and benefits they offer older workers, a third of employers said they would need to offer different health advice. One in five said they would need to offer different health benefits and a quarter of employers said they would need training to help spot signs of serious illness, such as dementia. Over a third realised they may need to introduce flexible working hours for older employees.
The report also reveals that employees’ requirements change with age and as a result, so do the benefits that they value. Over a third of employees over 55 said that having access to benefits such as private medical insurance could help them stay healthy, compared to a fifth of 25-34 year-old employees.
While a small number of employees (14 per cent) believe that people will exhaust themselves if they work past the traditional retirement age, two fifths believe there are health benefits to be had by keeping going and staying physically and mentally active in work..
Dr Doug Wright, medical director for Aviva UK Health says: “Life expectancy has been increasing for some time now and we are clearly seeing more people working past the traditional retirement age to meet their financial commitments or to help keep themselves fit and active. With that, employers are undoubtedly going to see some employees with conditions that are more common in older people, such as certain forms of cancer and cardiovascular disorders.
“It’s encouraging to see from our report that employers recognise the role they hold in helping to keep their employees healthy – and in particular the need to adapt the support and benefits they offer to suit the differing healthcare needs of an older workforce.”