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Businesses lack strategy for ageing workforce

As the UK’s population ages – and so does its workforce – businesses are faced with the challenge of catering to diverse health and wellbeing needs.

New research* from AXA PPP healthcare has shown that a strong majority of businesses (70 per cent) believe that they have a responsibility to encourage their employees to be physically and mentally healthy. Indeed, 63 per cent of those surveyed believe that there is a link between an employee’s productivity and their health and wellbeing – an issue employers are going to have to prepare to address as their workforce ages. The data suggest that businesses are recognising the need for such a strategy as one in five (21 per cent) are in the process of developing the business case for a wellbeing strategy with an age focus. Yet, 29 per cent are currently simply dealing with these issues as they arise. Businesses are also putting measures in place to manage an ageing workforce such as flexible or shorter working hours (34 per cent), phased retirement plans (34 per cent) and providing private healthcare insurance (24 per cent). Asked what they could do more of to encourage their older workers to stay in the workforce for longer, later life apprenticeship schemes (31 per cent), flexible and part time working (30 per cent) and retraining (22 per cent) were the leading nominations.

Employers might have concerns about managing older workers from a health perspective, worrying that they will ‘wear out’ and that sickness and ongoing medical conditions could adversely affect their performance. They are, however, at the same time posed with a challenge – half (51 per cent) of employees don’t want their employer to intervene in their physical and mental health.** With this in mind, employers should consider minor adjustments, simple corrective aids and support to minimise any age-related impact on productivity. The research shows that fewer than one in five employers currently have a strategy in place for managing a workforce of different ages – and one that is getting older.

James Freeston, Marketing Director at AXA PPP healthcare, says: “It is encouraging to see that even those businesses currently without a strategy in place for managing an age diverse workforce understand the important role that they can play in encouraging employees to be physically and mentally healthy and the positive impact that can have on productivity as well as on the wellbeing of their older employees. We hope that there will be a positive shift in the numbers of businesses who introduce age diversity strategies as they realise that there is a competitive edge to be gained from a workforce of healthy, engaged employees of all ages.”


*Online survey of 250 employers (both SMEs and large corporates) in September 2014 by market researcher OnePoll.

**Online survey of 2000 employees (both SMEs and large corporates) in July/August 2014 by market researcher OnePoll.

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