Adapting to an Aging Workforce: How Businesses Can Thrive in the UK's Evolving Job Market
The latest UK census results show the population of England and Wales has continued to age since 2011. The number of people aged 65 years and over increased from 9.2 million in 2011 to over 11 million in 2021, and the proportion of people aged 65 years and over rose from 16.4% to 18.6%.
At the same time, the UK’s workforce is undergoing a significant transformation, with more people staying in the workforce after the traditional retirement age of 65. Factors like mortgage debt, inadequate pensions, and low interest rates are forcing the average worker to delay retirement — there are now 1.43 million workers aged 65 and over in the UK, up from 457,000 at the beginning of the century.
These trends present a unique set of challenges and opportunities for employers, necessitating a strategic approach to workforce management, particularly recruitment, retention and succession planning.
Embracing the Change in Workforce
In a recent global employer survey, AARP found fewer than 4% of firms were already committed to programs that integrate older workers into their talent system, with only a further 27% saying they were “very likely” to explore this path in the future.
It’s clear that employers need to consider the changing demographics of their workforce. This might involve adapting workplace policies and practices to accommodate older workers, such as flexible working hours, job sharing, and ergonomic workplace designs.
Perhaps most importantly, employers must encourage a culture that respects and values the contributions of older employees.
Tackling Age Discrimination
OECD research concluded that age-diverse firms are lower in turnover and higher in productivity than benchmarks. Despite this, one of the biggest challenges in adapting to the demographic shift in the workforce is combating age discrimination.
Age-related work discrimination is widespread. However, the fact is that the workforce is changing and when demographic reality catches up with that attitude, the business that invest in recruiting, reskilling, and respecting the strengths of older workers will not just solve a part of their talent gap problem, they’ll create a workforce that’s more productive, more balanced, more diverse, and more loyal than the one they have today.
Through understanding the motivations of older workers, both individually and more generally, businesses can adapt to capitalise on the advantages they bring to the workplace.
Attracting, Integrating, and Retaining Older Workers
The keys to success in attracting, integrating, and retaining older workers, according to Bain & Co. are to:
1. Understand what motivates them at work
The average worker is primarily motivated by good compensation. At the age of 60, however, this changes. Interesting work becomes the top job attribute, and both autonomy and flexibility significantly increase in importance.
2. Reskill them for your next 10 years of capability needs
Older workers don’t get invited to training programs as much as younger colleagues, according to Bain & Co. Much of this is due to the waning of a growth mindset among older workers. However, the onus is also on the business to design programs that appeal to older workers, who are motivated to participate when training helps to accelerate their pursuit of interesting work.
3. Respect their strengths and allow them to do what they do best
It’s easy to picture a teacher, writer, or checkout assistant working well into their seventies, but harder to imagine manual workers like labourers, welders, or even firefighters doing the same. However, the experience of older workers is invaluable. Employers may need to implement strategies for knowledge transfer and retention, such as mentorship programs where older employees can pass on their skills and experience to younger colleagues.
Giving space to older workers to bring their unique benefits to the workplace can strengthen your culture for everyone.
How Programmatic Job Ads Can Help Businesses Thrive in the UK's Evolving Job Market
Programmatic job ad platforms like Hirematic are critical tools for tapping into this experienced talent pool.
Such platforms work on the basis of advanced algorithms that match job ads with the most suitable candidates, i.e., those with the necessary skills, qualifications, and experience. They also use data-driven insights to pinpoint the optimal times and locations for ad postings, maximising visibility and efficacy among older workers.
Contact us to learn more.