Are you an older worker?

Are you an older worker?

Tuesday, 09 October 2018

Are you an older worker?

I hadn’t given it much thought until last year but, up until about 2011, the Default Retirement Age (DRA) was 65 for men and 60 for women. The ending of the DRA, and the requirement for age equality, has had a significant impact on older workers. The exception is for those lucky enough to be able to retire early due to having a significant pension pot!

The whole pension landscape has changed over recent years. Pension pots are being restricted for the wealthiest, whilst greater flexibility in taking pensions is certainly benefiting many by giving more drawdown options. As a consequence, many people, both employed and self-employed, are planning to work much later in life. This may be because of financial issues, or simply because they want to continue in the workplace. Recent research by Aviva suggests that 63% of over 50s in work are planning to retire later than they thought they would 10 years ago. Their research also suggested that of the 10.2 million of over 50s in work, more than 44% feel unsupported by their employer when it comes to career ambitions and objectives, compared to 25% of those aged 25 to 34. With a third of the UK workforce set to be aged 50+ by 2020, businesses are being urged to increase the commitment to older employees and help them adapt to a longer working life.

Even if you’re self-employed and are an older worker, you need to apply similar criteria to your own working practices. 

Some things to think about

  • You may think older workers are harder workers, or that they’re difficult to train. However, older workers are individuals just like everyone else.
  • You wouldn't treat someone aged 35 in the same way as a 21-year-old straight out of college, because they would likely have different aspirations for their careers. Don't think the 15-year gap is any less in your older workers. A worker at 55 and a worker at 70 have different goals and needs. You may need to look at groups getting ready to retire (55-62), those at or over retirement age and still working (62-70), and older workers who want to keep active or who need to work (70+). Each group presents different management challenges. One of my good friends continued working well into his 80s, specifically to fund his sporting activities!
  • Don't assume that the older worker knows what’s expected of them. Be very clear what you need to be done and what the measurements of completion and of success will be.
  • Your older worker has been around, and they’ve seen a lot. Recognise the value of this experience, and tap into it. Learn from it and encourage younger members of your team to learn from it.
  • Older workers still need training as much as younger workers, and as often. The content might be different, but don’t ignore the need. Don't think that older workers can't be trained. They are just as receptive as their younger colleagues.
  • Some older workers may need different benefits to their younger colleagues. Make sure you tailor your benefit packages to meet everyone’s needs.
  • All workers require motivation. Older workers may have different motivational buttons than their younger counterparts. For example, opportunity for advancement may be less important than the recognition of a job well done.
  • Your older workers may want flexible hours or a shorter working week. Be willing to be flexible. You need their talent, and technical skill, so take steps to make sure you retain them. Do not, however, assume that all older workers want to go home early. Some may be motivated by working the same long, hard hours that they have always done.
  • Let them coach and encourage the younger workers. The majority of older workers have a wealth of knowledge and experience that they would love to pass on. Give them the opportunity to do so and your organisation will benefit.

So, don’t think that once you reach 65 you should be looking to retire. You might need to adapt, and require different support, but there’s no reason why you shouldn’t continue in fulfilling and worthwhile work. Aviva champions a ‘mid-life MOT’, as does the Government, so maybe all of us in that situation should consider it.

If you have any queries or would like more information, you can contact me on 01473 833411 or peter.glading@larking-gowen.co.uk

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