Age in Focus: Responsible Business in Action

The UK population is ageing. By the mid-2030s, half of all adults in the UK will be over 50 years old1 There is also a growing shortfall of younger people entering employment. Retaining older workers in the workplace has never been more important.

Employers must respond to this challenge. Through Business in the Community’s (BITC) Age campaign we provide employers with the tools to support a growing older workforce. We share best practice to promote inclusive workplaces in which employees of all ages can thrive.

Pioneering businesses, including Responsible Business in Action award finalists The Department for Work and Pensions, The Financial Services Compensation Scheme and Landmarc Security Services, are moving the dial on age. Through mid-life MOTs, flexible working, support for working carers or opportunities for colleagues to share experiences, these companies are building effective age-inclusive teams.

However, more needs to be done. Businesses must look at their data on age and listen to their employees. They can then introduce supportive actions to drive retention, retraining and recruitment in their older workforce. In doing so, they can create workplaces that are positive about age diversity, which reap the business benefits.

Campaigns
The Age Campaign is calling on employers to get ready for the age of experience. This campaign is currently focusing on how in mid-life people may fall out the workforce if they cannot balance work with other responsibilities. Caring is a major issue, and BITC is working with Carers UK, Employers for Carers and Centrica to build support for carers at work through a new policy initiative.

In 2017, as part of BITC’s role as the Government’s Business Champion for Older Workers, we set a five-year target for one million more older workers aged 50-69 by 2022. Two years on, we are on track with 392,000 more older workers in employment.

Headlines from the Finalists for Business in the Community's Responsible Business Awards 2019 - Age Friendly Teams Award

1. Multigenerational teams create positive workplaces
Conversations in the workplace on life stages are helping organisations to provide flexible working arrangements where necessary and to offer financial planning and/or occupational health support.
 
2. It is important to care for carers
The Department for Work and Pensions offers a Carers Passport, which allows those with caring responsibilities to request flexible work patterns, have access to periods of paid (up to 5 days can be immediately requested) and unpaid leave to attend to unforeseen emergencies.
 
3. Flexible working is the ‘new norm’
At the Department for Work and Pensions, 25% of the Age Friendly team work part-time or make use of flexible working patterns to accommodate care or health requirements. At the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), every job can be carried out flexibly, at home, in condensed hours, or with flexible start and leave times.
 
4. The skills of different age groups are valued equally
More companies are committed to creating an inclusive workplace where the skills of different generations are valued. FSCS, by making sure it has the right people in its business – regardless of age – is performing better than it ever has, with 95% of claims processed within published timescales, and a 23% reduction in the cost of claims processing.
 
5. Age-friendly approaches boost employee engagement
Creating the right environment that supports all ages ensures an  inclusive workplace that people are proud of. The investment made by FSCS has driven up staff engagement – from 60% two years ago, to 72% today.
 
6. Age-friendly companies create a culture of shared learning
Businesses are reporting that age-friendliness fosters a culture where employees of all ages are able to teach, share and learn from one another, creating an environment that is rich with experience and maturity. This is especially true at Landmarc Support Services where the majority (63%) of staff are over 50.

References

1. Department of Work and Pensions, (2017) Fuller Working Lives Evidence Base 2017. Available at https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploa...