Are older workers being let down by lack of workplace support?

20 Nov 2023

It’s National Older Workers Week 2023, a celebration of the importance of over 50s in the workplace. But with an ageing workforce, are employers doing enough to attract and retain older workers?

Older workers are often a company’s most skilled and experienced employees and retaining them is crucial. With sickness figures on the rise, many businesses have been left wondering how they can retain and invigorate their employees.

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the number of unemployed people who are classified as ‘long-term sick’ is the highest it has been since records began, with the most recent rises in economic inactivity being driven by those aged 50 to 64.

Alongside this, a recent study from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showed that levels of sickness absence are the highest they’ve been in over a decade with the top causes of long-term absence being mental ill health primarily stress, acute medical conditions such as stroke or cancer, and musculoskeletal issues.

Early intervention to prevent stress and escalating health issues can help older employees to stay in work for longer. To support with this, the Department for Work and Pensions recently launched their Midlife MOT service, delivered in East Anglia by public service specialists Reed in Partnership.

Midlife MOT is a free review for workers aged 45 to 55 that helps them take stock of their work, wealth and wellbeing. The MOT helps employees understand why and how they should stay in work for longer including support from trained advisers covering subjects such as pensions, career prospects, and health and lifestyle. It can be offered alongside an existing Employee Assistance or Occupational Health programme, allowing employers to offer their older workers more comprehensive and targeted support.

Older workers who have taken part in the Midllife MOT have been seen to increase their understanding of their work, wealth and wellbeing through accessing the service. Some of them said:

“[It was a] straightforward process with a likeable coach who is happy to offer pointers. It makes you think about upcoming workshops and how they will help to build my CV and progress in the future.”

“I was steered to financial support. The easy-going chat put me at ease and gave me the confidence to ask for help. A very understanding approach.”

“My adviser listened actively to understand me and my wellbeing needs. She offered a range of information sources which I find very helpful. Her advice is motivating and targeted to my weight loss goal.”