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Join the conversation about working beyond retirement

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MELKSHAM is to play host to a special event to discuss the topic of working beyond retirement age. 

The event will be held at Thornbank housing complex, SN12 6JQ, near the town centre, on Thursday 7th February from 2pm until 4pm.

President of Melksham Seniors says, “Here in Melksham we have a unique opportunity to participate in the national consultation on the subject of working beyond retirement. We have received a special invitation to a consultation sponsored by the National Lottery, and EngAgeNet – we are also liaising with several government departments including the DWP.

“We have been selected as one of few locations nationally to host a “Mature Conversation” on work in later life where a panel of 12 – 15 people will be asked for their views and experiences on barriers to work and how employers can enable those who wish to continue working to remain. 

“Retired, semi-retired and soon-to-be-retired are especially welcome. If you are interested as a business employer or as individual in providing an input into this important national consultation you would be most welcome. Tony Watts OBE, the past editor of the Mature Times will be chairing this most important small consultation meeting.”

What employers 

can do to attract older workers

About the topic of older people in the workplace, Brian says, “According to recent Government job statistics there will be by 2025, a million more people over the age of 50 in the workplace, but 300,000 fewer workers under the age of 30. Job vacancies and numbers in work are both reaching record levels.

“This is going to require employers to act very soon if they want to attract and retain skilled older workers, if they fail to do so then they face the risk of falling behind their competitors. Already Brexit and the loss of millions of skilled migrants is having an effect across the job market. This is waking many employers up to the need to retain some of their older employees longer and to be more flexible in the hours of working.

“Flexible working is important for workers of all ages. It can help many older workers to balance caring responsibilities, a health condition or allow a phased transition to retirement.

“However, older workers aren’t always able to benefit from flexible working. They might not know about their flexible working options and they may assume the right to request relates only to parents and carers.

“According to the National charity Ageing Better far too many older applicants are frozen out of the job market due to inadequate processes, age bias and a lack of engagement from employers or recruiters. As a long-standing member of staff, it can be difficult to raise the question of working flexibly if your employer assumes you will always be working in the same way.

“Employers need to be attuned to the changing needs of their staff, whether they are in their first week or have been employed for many years. Employers who offer good quality flexible working arrangements benefit from more engaged staff who are likely to stay for longer and feel more positive about their work.

Age bias

“Recruiters will need to actively target candidates of all ages and take steps to minimise age bias in recruitment processes. Leading employers already actively target older as well as younger candidates and use a variety of recruitment techniques to find people. Despite this, too many older applicants are frozen out of the job market due to inadequate processes, age bias and a lack of engagement from many employers or recruiters.

“It’s impossible to completely remove unconscious bias from decision-making, but there are several things you can do to minimise the impact of age stereotypes at each stage of the recruitment process:

• Use images and language that are age-neutral and inclusive in recruitment adverts and job descriptions

• Incorporate ‘blind’ application and shortlisting stages

• Use structured panel interviews or assessments

• Ensure everyone has the health support they need.

“It’s important to enable early and open conversations about health at work and offer early and sustained access to support for people managing health conditions.

“Older workers will need to be supported to access the workplace adjustments that can enable them to stay in good, fulfilling work for as long as they want.

“It’s important for people to be provided with opportunities to develop their careers and plan for the future at mid-life and beyond. Opening career development and support to workers in mid-life can benefit employers in a range of ways.

 “We need new ways of understanding, speaking about and managing age at all levels of the multi- generational workplace.

“As well as building the skills and knowledge of their whole workforce, it signals the employer’s commitment to all staff, regardless of age, and to boosting engagement and retention of older workers. Whatever their age, employees value opportunities to discuss their future aims and aspirations. This can help to identify their future training or development needs. It is important to keep discussing the skills and knowledge that workers need or want to learn, as part of regular line management and development conversations, at all ages.”

Create an 

age-positive culture

“Businesses need to be equipped to promote an age-positive culture, and support interaction and networking among staff of all ages. People enter, leave and progress at work at different stages of life, as they balance aspirations and needs at work and at home.

“Therefore, workplaces need to have good practice demonstrated across the business, from the executive team through to HR professionals, managers and colleagues.

“There are many barriers that need to be removed or lowered to encourage more individuals to work beyond retirement, including taxation, the Government also may need to be far more flexible in meeting a number of these challengers, which is why we are talking to Government Departments about the barriers that need removing.

Win-win

“Age-friendly employment could be a win-win for everyone.

“Enabling more people to be in fulfilling work for longer is a win-win for everyone. It helps employers retain skilled workers, it helps people who want to stay in work for longer and it helps to boost the economy.

“For individuals, being in good quality, fulfilling work for as long they want to be is critical for financial security now and into the future, as well as providing meaning, purpose and social connections in the workplace. Employers benefit from retaining their most experienced people, reducing the risk they face of future labour and skills shortages, and having a workplace that is fit for the future.

“For the wider economy, reducing the employment gap between people currently in their late 40s and those aged between 50 and state pension age could see increased tax revenues and help boost GDP and also help older people to build up a more reasonable nest egg to support themselves later in life.”

• For more information about the event or to register your interest in taking part, contact Brian Warwick, president of Melksham Seniors at: brian.warwick@mac.com; or by telephone 01225 792959.

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