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Older workers unhappier at work

Older staff are less likely to view their colleagues as friends and more likely to feel under-appreciated

Almost a fifth (17%) of people over the age of 55 are unhappy at work, according to a report from Robert Half UK.

It’s time we all work happy: The secrets of the happiest companies and employees polled 2,000 UK adults and found that 16% of 35- to 54-year-olds were also unhappy in their roles. However, just 8% of those aged 18 to 34 claimed to be unhappy at work.

The research found that as employees age they're far less likely to view their colleagues as friends. One in seven (14%) of those aged 35 to 54 and 16% of those aged over 55 said they did not have good friends at work. By comparison, 62% of 18- to 34-year-olds said they had good friends at work.

Phil Sheridan, senior managing director at Robert Half UK, said employers should be careful to engage and include older employees. “Employees that are aged over 35 have valuable experience that the whole organisation can learn and benefit from,” he said.

“It’s important that their happiness is not neglected, so businesses need to take the time to invest in their staff at all levels. Simple things like conducting regular performance reviews, offering new opportunities for learning and setting ambitious career goals are all steps that can ensure more tenured workers feel appreciated and that career goals don’t become static.”

Those aged over 35 were also more likely to feel under-appreciated at work. Overall, 60% of those aged 18 to 35 felt appreciated and just 15% felt undervalued. In comparison, 25% of 35- to 54-year-olds felt under-appreciated, with this figure rising to 29% for those aged over 55.

Mike Thompson, director of apprenticeships at Barclays, told HR magazine that providing strong career opportunities for employees of all ages can help them feel valued at work. “Barclays launched the Bolder Apprenticeship programme to demonstrate our commitment to creating career opportunities regardless of age,” he said. “The skills and life experiences older workers bring to both our business and our customers have been incredibly rewarding. We promote and celebrate the valuable contribution that they make so that they and everyone in our business can see how and where they add huge value.

“We believe there is still a huge opportunity for other businesses to bring older workers in through apprenticeships, as age and social circumstances shouldn’t be a barrier,” he added.