Business must face rapidly ageing workforce

6556128119_1217ae073d_oEmployers must cater to older workers or face being left behind as the population ages, according to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Flexible working is one tool that can ease changing workforce dynamics and fulfil the needs of all employees. However, pension restrictions and attitudes to flexible workers are barriers to its success.

Is 75 the new 65? surveyed 480 senior executives across Europe on behalf of HR specialist Towers Watson. Of those, 71% expect the proportion of their employees over 60 to increase by 2020 – 22% say significantly.

Over a third of those surveyed (35%) expect flexible working to increase to tackle some of the needs of the ageing workforce. They expect employees to seek job sharing, part-time and phased retirement options and over half (56%) plan to offer more flexible working hours and remote working.

In addition, 46% said they will implement changes to make sure the skills of older workers remain up to date and 48% will give employees more choice over their benefits.

Around a third also said they will adapt their structures to ensure that older workers who reduce their hours or responsibilities retain their status within the company and continue to feel valued.

In the report, David Fairhurst, chief people officer at McDonald’s Europe, said flexibility benefits the whole workforce, not just older workers. “There are significant similarities between the fundamental employment needs of young people, and those of older workers,” he said.

“Our younger employees value the flexibility we give them to arrange their shifts to suit their college and university studies, family commitments—and their hectic social lives. Our older workers value exactly the same flexibility to spend time with grandchildren and to ease back on their work commitments as they approach retirement.”

He added: “As long as we hang on to this increasingly outdated idea of the linear career trajectory, anyone ‘easing out’ at the end of their career—out of either choice or necessity—will risk being seen as some kind of failure.”

However, the report added that flexibility changes could “hit the buffers” when it comes to pensions. Respondents said pension arrangements are expensive to change (40%) and excessively regulated (33%).

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pbmjb/

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Categories: News, Retirement, Survey

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