The idea that employers can (and should) help their workforce with their family care needs is by now one that most companies are familiar with – from photos of families on desks, to offering childcare benefits and shared parental leave, supporting working parents with young families has become embedded as ‘the norm’ in our working culture.
What is less well discussed - and much less clearly defined - is how organisations can retain and support their older workforce, leveraging skills and experience gained over a lifetime to deliver maximum benefit for business. The modern employment ‘landscape’ is evolving in several key ways:
Retirement age is becoming more fluid – the demise of final salary pension schemes, a rising state pension age, and increasing financial pressures all mean that 60 or 65 are no longer set mile stones for retirement. ‘
Traditional’ family structure is changing – with better healthcare comes increased longevity, bringing new challenges. What was previously referred to as ‘the sandwich generation’ (workers caring for young children and grandparents) has now become more complex – a ‘club sandwich generation’ combining elderly great-grandparents, grandparents (who may still work or care for children), working parents and multiple generations of children.
Women still face a ‘motherhood penalty’ – by taking time out of employment (or opting for part time roles) in order to raise children women have a lower overall lifetime earning potential with reduced pension and NI contributions – working for longer may therefore be a necessity for some.
The case for supporting older workers is clear:
• 50+ workers now make up nearly one-third (31%) of the entire UK workforce
• In the next 10 – 15 years Gen X will hit this age - by 2025, the biggest age group of employees is likely to be in the 50+ sector
• The number of carers in the UK is set to rise from 6 million to 9million over the next 30 years**
• 50+ employees are often senior talent and keepers of core knowledge and relationships
Case Study – Bright Horizons
Bright Horizons employs c.10, 000 workers in the UK across a network of 300+ nurseries and Support Offices, with almost 12% of the workforce aged 50 and over. To acknowledge this and support mature workers, there are a range of policies, strategic interventions and employee benefits in place, including:
• An organisational culture which encourages people to bring “their whole selves to work”, with an embedded awareness of the competing priorities that individuals have both in and outside of work. Bright Horizons encourages wider teams to be thoughtful and supportive of other people’s life stages, whilst avoiding stereotyping individuals just because of their age.
• A flexible working policy allows for a variety of work options to balance work and life. Those nearing retirement are able to gradually reduce their hours to ease the transition between full time work and retirement (e.g. going to 3 days a week for 6 months prior to retiring).
• Life Assurance is offered to all employees with 1+ years’ service, to support with family or dependant commitments and ‘peace of mind’.
• Back-up care (access to a network of carers when your usual care arrangements break down) which includes elder care
• Acknowledging that this generation is likely to have one or more family caring responsibilities, employees have access to a range of online resources for carers e.g. webinars and information
• Nudge (a Financial Education partner) provides a wealth of information tailored to age and interests e.g. ‘Free will month for over 50’s’ – once employees are registered with Nudge they receive emails and texts on topics which matter to them.
Read our comprehensive survey of working family life:
Learn more about the care crisis facing working families:
Download our guide to supporting carers in the workforce:
Visit our partners Employers for Carers:
Practical tips from the UK government and Age Alliance on recruiting, retaining and supporting older workers:
*Source: www.gov.uk **Source: Employers for Carers