More than 100 employers, including HM Treasury, the Department for Work and Pensions and a number of Marriott hotels, have joined the Centre for Ageing Better scheme to help develop more age-friendly employers within its first three months.
More than 200,000 employees now work at organisations that have signed the pledge while in excess of 130 additional employers have registered an interest in joining the scheme since its launch on November 30.
The nationwide programme, run by the Centre for Ageing Better, requires employers to commit to taking one action a year to improve the recruitment, retention and development of older workers.
Organisations across the country, from the Isle of Wight to Warrington and from Llandovery to Lincoln have signed the pledge and from a broad range of sectors including recruitment, construction, health and social care, charity, manufacturing, finance, leisure and hospitality.
Around half of businesses and organisations to have signed the pledge are SMEs with fewer than 50 employees while one in four are larger employers with more than 1,000 employees.
The pledge has launched as the issue of economic inactivity among older workers has risen in importance for the government. Chancellor Jeremy Hunt highlighted the value of older workers during last week’s budget speech while announcing new policies intended to help more older people back into work. Work and Pensions Minister Mel Stride is leading a review of economic inactivity, due to conclude in May, while a House of Lords report published in December cited earlier retirement as the biggest factor behind the UK’s skills and labour shortages and warned the rise in inactivity poses serious challenges to the UK economy.
The number of inactive 50- to 64-year-olds has increased by 320,000 since before the pandemic, with this age group accounting for 65% of the increase in working-age inactivity over this period. The employment gap between 35-49 and 50-64-year-olds now stands at 14.6 percentage points – 1.5 percentage points higher than at the start of the pandemic.
Dr Emily Andrews, Deputy Director for Work at the Centre for Ageing Better, said:
“It has been encouraging to hear the government’s recent recognition of the vital importance for UK PLC of having more older workers in employment.
“Employers can show that they are singing from the same hymn sheet as the government by taking action to create a more supportive and attractive work environment for the recruitment, retention and training of older workers by signing up to our Age-friendly Employer Pledge. It is encouraging to see that hundreds of businesses are already showing this intent by registering their interest and signing up to our free nationwide programme.”
Under the Age-friendly Employer Pledge, businesses and organisations identify a senior sponsor for age-inclusion within their workforce and ensure that age is specifically named within their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies.
Employers are also supported with practical guides and resources including case studies and examples to help them improve their practice and a learning network where they can share challenges and successes with fellow employers.
Potential actions from participating employees include reducing age bias in recruitment and introducing flexible working which are vital to helping over 50s remain in work.
The pledge is one of the first steps in realising the Centre for Ageing Better’s vision of building an Age-Friendly Movement that encourages, inspires and enables the change needed to create better later lives for all. The movement includes a public-facing campaign to shift attitudes to ageing and working with communities, industries and sectors to help them be more age-friendly and inclusive as the population ages.
Catherine Vaughan, Age Champion and Finance Director General at the Department for Work and Pensions, said:
“We know that older staff provide invaluable expertise, skills and experience to the important work the Department does.
“I’m pleased that by signing the Age-friendly Employer Pledge we’re continuing to show how much DWP values an age-diverse workforce. This will provide a tangible boost to help all our staff feel valued and supported whatever their age.”
Marion Fry, Multi Property Human Resources Manager for Bristol Royal Marriott Hotel and Delta Hotels by Marriott Bristol, said:
“At the Bristol Marriott Hotels we recognise the expertise and value older employees bring to our workforce. Multigenerational workforces drive productivity and innovation – older employees play an important role in this through sharing the life skills and maturity they have gained with younger members of the team.
“Within our company, we will be working towards removing the existing stigma that the hospitality industry is for the younger population, by actively advertising that we are also looking for older talent to join our team and strengthen the industry. Signing the pledge will help us action these steps in our recruitment process, enabling us to find this older talent.”
For more information on the Age-friendly Employer Pledge visit https://ageing-better.org.uk/age-friendly-employer-pledge.