Only 14% of UK managers consider their organisation well-prepared to cope with the demands of an increasingly older workforce, according to research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
In the report, entitled Managing an Ageing Workforce, 34% of managers claim that board-level recognition of ageing workforce issues is non-existent. It also reveals that 43% are not well-informed about their organisation's retirement policies, and 40% have experienced age discrimination at some stage in their careers. This is despite latest estimates that a third of UK workers will be over 50 by 2020, and the government's recently announced plans to abolish the default retirement age in 2011.
Petra Wilton, the CMI's director of policy and research, said that although the age profile of the UK workforce is changing, UK businesses are woefully under prepared for the impact it will have on them.
"This latest research makes it clear that those at senior level in particular are failing to take the issue seriously and that discrimination is still too frequent. If action isn't taken, employees who are in the 50-plus age bracket will feel undervalued and will have no incentive to carry on working beyond normal retirement age. The loss of their talents and considerable experience by businesses not prepared to adapt is reckless in the extreme."
Despite the perceived ignorance of issues surrounding the older workforce, more than 90% of respondents to the survey – conducted among the CMI's and the CIPD's combined membership – saw the value in retaining the knowledge and experience of older workers.
"Employers need to view the ageing workforce as an opportunity rather than a threat," said Penny de Valk, chief executive of the Institute of Leadership & Management. "Older people are the largest-growing age demographic and in business terms they represent a hugely profitable market segment. As employees, older workers possess a wealth of skills and talents which should be harnessed and not wasted in these times of needing to get more from less."
Dianah Worman, the CIPD's diversity adviser, said employers would need to keep on their toes to respond appropriately to the phasing out of the default retirement age next year.
"Clearly businesses already recognise the value of older workers, but this knowledge needs to be matched with appropriate action," she said. "We know from this latest research that managers aren't being supported or trained appropriately in the management of older workers, for example, but it is also apparent that the needs and preferences of older workers have to be better addressed."
Article from The Guardian