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More than half of UK employers ignore older workers’ potential

September 12, 2013  /   No Comments

Jo Faragher

Employers are struggling to use older workers to their full potential, according to a survey from professional services company Towers Watson.

As many as 59% are not making any progress in how they integrate and get the best out of their older workers, its survey found, despite the huge rise in the number of people working beyond the traditional retirement age of 65.

Only half of the senior HR professionals interviewed for the survey felt that their organisation understood the changing needs of employees across their professional lifecycle.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2001 there were just under 450,000 people aged over 65 working in the UK, compared with around 1m today. The ONS also estimates that by 2050 there are likely be 19 million people aged 65 or over living in the UK who may want, or need, to continue working beyond that age. The default retirement age was abolished in 2011.

Yves Duhaldeborde, director of employee surveys at Towers Watson said: “The sharp increase in older workers has led to a large proportion of employees with over 40 years’ experience. With no default retirement age a significant proportion of the growing over-65 population will continue to want, or need, to work. These older workers can add huge value to organisations in terms of experience and skills but problems can arise when companies are ill-prepared to meet the needs of this group of workers, who may require more flexibility in their working life.”

Data from Towers Watson’s 2012 Global Workforce Study shows that employees over 50 are more enthusiastic, resilient and connected to the goals of their employer than their younger peers. However, older workers often feel that these companies let them down when it comes to training and personal development.

Arvinder Dhesi, director of Towers Watson’s talent management practice added: “This is a big issue facing many industries but our research shows that very few organisations are exploring how the positive attitudes and reliability that older employees bring to the workplace can be channelled to create a competitive edge and increase business performance.”


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