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Older employees feel undervalued

More than half of over-60s want to continue working but are concerned about age discrimination and lack of career progression, according to research from Aviva

Nearly one in five (19%) of those surveyed feel that younger colleagues are favoured over older generations, while the same number (19%) believe their age has become a barrier to career progression and development.

However, more than half (53%) of employees aged 60 and older are not ready to retire, increasing to 61% for people still working past the age of 65, the research found. The majority (73%) of those in their fifties and sixties feel they share invaluable skills, experience and knowledge with colleagues, but 16% believe this is not valued by their employer.

More than a third (37%) of employees aged 45 and older believe that age discrimination is an issue where they work, according to the analysis. Those aged 55 to 59 feel this most strongly (41%).

However, many employers share employees’ concerns about age discrimination, the research found. Almost a fifth (19%) of employers said it was a main concern, while 20% said they were worried about how they will respond to the challenge of an ageing workforce.

There are currently a record 10 million workers over the age of 50 in the UK and in the next decade this population is forecast to grow to more than a third of all UK workers.

Lindsey Rix, managing director of savings and retirement at Aviva, commented that age discrimination harms individuals and organisations alike: “Age should not be a barrier to opportunity – but our findings suggest employees are worried about age discrimination. We want to challenge this concern,” she said.

“Evolving social and workplace trends mean we must all be prepared for a more fluid working life. The mid-life population offers invaluable skills and experience that companies are potentially missing out on. Companies need to take action – not doing so risks a punishing labour shortage in the years to come and a huge waste of talent and potential.”

Claire Turner, director of evidence at the Centre for Ageing Better, said that employers must do more to support older workers: “It’s really positive that many people in their fifties and sixties want to carry on working. Good-quality work can provide a sense of meaning and purpose and enable people to save more for later life," she said.

“Older workers can bring a wealth of skills and experience that are incredibly valuable. With skills and labour shortages predicted in future employers will need to recruit, retain and support those older workers if they want to remain competitive.

“But this report reinforces that too many people still face age discrimination and feel their employers don’t value their contributions. Employers must better support their older workers, eliminate age discrimination in employment practices, and deliver progression and development opportunities for everyone regardless of age.”

Aviva's survey was based on 1,036 UK employers and 2,020 employees aged 45 and older, and was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Aviva in January 2019.