CIPD advises firms to review HR polices for aging workforce

New research from the CIPD suggests people are preparing to stay longer in the workforce, but that employers are currently underprepared to support them effectively.

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The professional body for HR and people development’s Employee Outlook: Employee Attitudes to Pay & Pensions surveyed 1,656 working adults at the end of last year.It found over a third (37%) of all workers believe they will work past the age of 65. The figure jumps to 49 per cent among workers over 55 years old. Among those who predict they will work past 65, the average age they expect to actually retire is 70, according to the study.The figures come at a time when the government has just launched its strategy for retaining older workers and as the average age of people leaving the labour market has increased over the past two decades.

Working longer and pensions entitlement

A belief that work will people stay mentally fit is the most common reason why employees want to work past 65 (32%). Financial reasons and the ability to earn enough money to continue to enjoy themselves, for example by going on holidays, is the next most common explanation (27%).The CIPD's data also suggests some uncertainty among employees around planned changes to the state pension age in the next decade. Around a quarter (26%) of those aged 55 and over claim they did not know the state pension age will increase from 65 to 66 between 2018 and 2020. Similarly, 48 per cent of 35–54-year-olds are unaware the state pension age will increase from 66 to 67 between 2026 and 2028.A significant minority of employees are also unaware they need to have paid National Insurance contributions for ten years to get the minimum state pension (36%) and that they must have paid National Insurance contributions for 35 years to get the full state pension (32%).

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Can employers do more to support older workers?

Despite the intentions of many of those surveyed to work beyond state pension age, the CIPD’s research finds many employers aren’t doing enough to support older workers in the workplace. Just a quarter of employees believe their employer is prepared to meet the needs of workers aged 65 and over.Commenting on the figures, Charles Cotton, pay and reward adviser at the CIPD, expressed surprise at the idea employees felt their employers are unprepared for an aging workforce.“It’s shocking that, despite a large proportion of UK workers planning to work past the age of 65, employers are so underprepared to meet the needs of a maturing workforce,” he said.Older workers offer vast experience and knowledge, and can also act as mentors to young people in the workplace. To reap those opportunities, employers need to start reviewing and adapting their people practices as well as the design of the organisation, jobs and work to ensure that they are fit for the new purpose.“Previous CIPD research has shown that multi-generational workforces are of huge benefit to organisations. It is very positive to see that employees are also recognising that remaining at work can help their well-being by helping them to keep mentally fit. In return, organisations have a duty to build workplaces that enable talented older workers to continue to work without facing organisational barriers.”

Pessimism on pay expectations

Alongside insight on attitudes to retirement age, the CIPD’s study also suggests low expectations around pay rises this year. Compared to two-thirds in last year’s survey, just 55 per cent of respondents believe they will benefit from a pay rise in the next 12 months.A further quarter feel their living standards will fall in the next year, matching the same number who saw a decline in the previous 12 months.

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