Majority of older workers support default retirement age change

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Nearly half the UK workforce plan to continue working beyond the state retirement age of 65, the new CIPD Employee Outlook survey has revealed.

The findings of the ‘Focus on the ageing workforce’ survey showed support for government plans to phase out the default retirement age (DRA) by October 2011. This will lead to an extended working life for many people.

Four in 10 (41 per cent) employees of the 2,000 employees questioned planned to work beyond the state retirement age of 65, while the proportion who said they planned not to was much lower at 29 per cent.

In addition, nearly half of respondents (44 per cent) oppose the current law that allows employers to retire employees once they reach 65, while just 25 per cent support it.

The survey found that older workers are significantly more likely to disagree with the DRA than younger workers, with nearly six in 10 (56 per cent) of those aged 55 and above disagreeing with the legislation, compared to 35 per cent of 18-24 year olds.

Among those employees planning to work beyond the state retirement age, the most common reason given was financial security concerns, cited by 72 per cent of respondents. This was closely followed by people’s needs and aspirations to continue using their skills and experience (47 per cent), benefit from social interaction in the workplace (41 per cent) and for self-esteem (34 per cent).

Dianah Worman, the CIPD’s diversity adviser, highlighted the “clear business benefits” of employing a workforce that is age diverse. She said that employers who don’t impose a retirement age report that older workers typically have a great rapport with customers, as well as a conscientious attitude and real enthusiasm for the job.

But she warned: “Employers will need to make sure their people management policies and practices are in mint condition to manage an increasingly age diverse workforce.”

She said employers must “not drag their heels” in addressing people management challenges associated with an aging population. “If they do, they will fall behind more progressive competitors in sustaining business performance.”

Worman said effective and fair performance management across the whole workforce was critical to managing the changes. She also highlighted inclusive and creative approaches to flexible working as another tool to help businesses reap the benefits of older workers.

Source: PM Online

Publication date: 29 October 2010

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