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Older workers most anxious about health risks going back to work

Steve Whittall - Airdri

Older workers are much more concerned than their younger colleagues about the health risks of returning to office working, a new survey has revealed. 

The study* of 1000 people revealed that just 16% of under 24s are worried about picking up germs from colleagues/communal areas on returning to work. In comparison, 43% of over 25s, around a third of 35–44-year-olds (34%), 35% of 45-54 year olds and 41% of over 55s agreed, showing a big disparity in the opinions of the younger age groups.  

COVID-19 was chosen as the main concern about office-working for a third of those aged 45-54, and 39% of over 55s. While those in the younger age groups were more likely to be anxious about performance-related issues, such as ‘not being up to the challenge’ (21%) and stress (26%). 

The majority of people in all age groups, apart from those aged 18-24, agreed that they would feel less concerned about returning to the office if they knew the company’s products and policies for infection control.  

Just 37% of the younger age group agreed that infection control policies and products would make them feel safer, compared with well over 50% in all of the other age brackets, this rose to 72% in the over 55s*. 

The study also uncovered variations in attitudes towards virtual meetings vs in person communication, with 32% of under 24s are not looking forward to face-to-face meetings vs just 20% of those aged 45+. 

What our research shows is there is a big gap in what is worrying those in the younger age groups compared with older generations.  The UK should soon be back to business and there is a huge gap in how safe different generations feel about going back to offices and places of work. 

Some of the figures were surprising given that it is the older age groups that should have been fully vaccinated by now. Yet with news of new variants hitting the headlines and the fact that COVID-19 statistically affects older generations more seriously, it’s perhaps understandable.

Whilst younger employees might not be overly concerned about picking up germs back in the office, it is front of mind for business owners and team managers who are concerned about the safety of staff and visitors. And reducing absenteeism is going to be a top priority.

Survey commissioned by Airdri – 1,000 working British adults were surveyed. The data has been weighted to be representative of the British adult population as a whole. 

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