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Negative stereotypes of older workers persist

Some employees believe having older employees in the workplace creates more problems than benefits

Almost three in ten (29%) employees agreed there is a negative stereotype or stigma surrounding older workers, according to research from Canada Life Group Insurance.

The survey found that 12% of employees believe having older employees in the workplace creates more problems than benefits. However, more encouragingly, almost two-thirds (63%) acknowledged that a mix of older and younger employees is beneficial, as it creates a wider range of skills among a workforce.

Anna Dixon, chief executive of the Centre for Ageing Better, said that employers must recognise the potential of older workers and create age friendly workplaces. “Recruiting and retaining older workers is critical to closing the jobs gap created by people leaving the workforce,” she told HR magazine. “A workforce that reflects our ageing population also benefits organisations in terms of customer insight. Work contributes to a happier and healthier later life, as it gives meaning and purpose, provides social contact and financial benefits and keeps people active.

“As we live longer it is likely many of us will have to work for longer. We want to ensure that people are able to make informed decisions and have control over where, when and how they work in later life,” she added.

The Canada Life research also found that different age groups were interested in different benefits packages. When working past 65, 32% see critical illness cover as the most important benefit, followed by life insurance (29%) and income protection (24%). However, 28% of employees currently do not receive any workplace benefits, equivalent to 8.8 million people.

Paul Avis, marketing director of Canada Life Group, said that companies need to be able to adapt to support an older workforce. “As the UK workforce moves towards a new normal in terms of multigenerational working, and economic prospects improve, it will be companies with the foresight to embrace the change and adapt to it now who will benefit the most,” he said.

“Coupled with the focus on benefits being driven by pensions auto-enrolment, the time to review your employee benefits package is now.”