Our “Silver Revolution” research explored the challenges of an ageing workforce

With the demise of the default retirement age employers urgently need to consider how they motivate the army of older workers planning to stay on for the long term.  Most are loyal and happy at work, which is a great start. But isn’t enough: being happy and being productive are not synonymous. Older workers plan to stay where they are so it’s vital for employers to inspire them to deliver their best.

The UK, in common with the rest of Europe, is facing the prospect of a rapidly ageing population. By 2020 it is estimated that a third of the UK population will be aged over 50. Indeed, figures from National Statistics* suggest that 50-55 year olds will be the largest single age group of workers – making up 12% of the workforce. Welcome to the era of the ‘grey majority’.

Government policy is to increase the state retirement age to 66 in 2016 and to 68 by 2046. At the same time the default requirement age of 65 is being phased out from April 2011. Already over a million over 65’s are actively employed.

Meanwhile statistics suggest that half of 25-34 year olds have no pension plan. Thus we can safely predict that in future fewer of us will be able to retire ‘early’ (ie before state pension age). Even the phasing in of auto-enrollment pensions may not result in people having a sufficient retirement “pot” to secure the retirement lifestyle they aspire to. The decline of final salary pension schemes will, Chiumento believes, restrict the option of retiring early to a declining percentage of the workforce.

Despite the realities of the situation, research published in 2010 by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) suggests that 86% of organisations are not ready to deal with the demographic changes ahead. By contrast, 93% of organisations want to retain older workers.

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