Research highlights the value of older workers in the ever changing workforce

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Organisational changes and the ageing workforce have seen a shift in individuals’ attitudes towards work. Dr Sheena Johnson, senior lecturer in Organisational Psychology at Alliance Manchester Business School, has explored the value of older workers in the ever changing workforce, and how organisational changes will affect those aged 65 in 2025 and 2040.

The Evidence Review, which was published on 28 September 2015, by the Government Office for Science, focuses on the ageing workforce, how organisations are reacting (or not) to this, and what the likely impact of workforce demographics and organisational changes will be on older individuals in the future.

The key findings of the research show:
•    Older workers will increasingly be protected against age discrimination by policies and practices.
•    There will be increasing older worker demand for part-time and flexible work.
•    Training demand will increase to enable workers to have skills relevant to changing work environments.
•    The trend towards reduced manual and increased ‘people work’ will continue.
•    Stereotypes change slowly and older workers may continue to be negatively affected in the near future. Over time, however, increased positive older worker information, and demographic change, should begin to challenge and reduce negative stereotypes.
•    Uncertainty relating to changes to retirement practice will reduce over time. By 2040 retirement decisions should be driven by employee choice, or be performance-related, and be less influenced by expectations of a ‘normal’ retirement age.

In relation to the findings, Dr Johnson said: “We have an ageing workforce and older workers will form a large proportion of the workforce in the future. This brings both challenges and opportunities to employers. The findings of this review provide a challenging perceptive. We are starting to see a shift in the way ‘older’ workers are valued. Our findings show that in time, it is likely that experience will need to be seen as valuable as qualifications – which will result in increasing demand for older workers. In turn, we must accommodate older worker demand for training, part-time and flexible work.”

The work-related views and career moves of those retiring in 10 years’ time is expected to be vastly different when compared with those reaching retirement in 2040. With the increasing retirement age, those individuals in 2040 are expected to be more accepting of the need to work to an older age, and will have had more career changes in order to acquire new skills throughout their employment.

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Alliance Manchester Business School has a global reputation for innovative and influential teaching and research, which impacts business on a local, national and international level. We call this Original Thinking Applied.

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