Businesses are changing their pension schemes and working practices to cater for an aging workforce, according to a new study.
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As more over 65s continue working rather than moving into retirement, companies have found they need to adjust the workplace to the health and mobility needs of older workers.
More than 1.1 million over 65s are still working, says the study from financial firm Metlife – a 10% increase on the figure from 12 months ago.
As a result, many businesses want to tap into their skills and experience and are offering workplace and financial benefits to attract the staff they want.
Almost a fifth of companies surveyed confirmed they were changing to make life easier for older employees, while 54% are expecting to employ older staff.
Financial and benefit changes are changing in line with the increasing age of workers.
Many company pension schemes cut off benefits when workers reach 65 years old, and these are changing to become more flexible for the needs of older workers.
Other benefits that are changing with the times are private health cover and critical illness protection.
Although more over 65s are in work, a new wave of older workers is lining up behind them, found the report Flexibility in retirement – Planning for change.
Workers aged over 60 comprise 18% of the workforce and as longevity and better health prospects increase; the number is expected to keep rising.
Most firms say they have adjusted to cope with older workers, but 28% confessed they still have work to do.
Two big companies that have made the changes needed for older workers are Supermarket Sainsbury’s and car maker BMW.
Sainsbury’s allows staff to phase in retirement by part drawing their pension while working reduced hours.
Job landscape changing
BMW has restructured production lines to aid the fitness of older workers – and increased output by 7%.
“New laws mean firms cannot force staff into retirement at 65, but their financial benefits do not line up with the needs of their aging workforce,” said Susan Thomas, an employment law solicitor.
“Employers need to come to terms with this because the employment landscape is likely to radically change over the next few years.”
Some industry experts do not believe companies are changing fast enough to deal with the rising number of older workers.
“It’s right some firms have seen the benefits of attracting older workers, but the few that have done so and reaped the benefits are only a small percentage of employers,” said Baroness Sally Greengross, chief executive of the International Longevity Centre.
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