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The curved ball of the aging population

The curved ball of the aging population

Many organisations are blissfully unaware of a ‘curved ball’ heading in their direction on the horizon.

Why are they unaware? Because they have been focusing on more pressing concerns like dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic, hybrid working, and because few organisations spend enough time looking longer term at examining different scenarios and impacts. This can be a very costly mistake in a world of skill shortages and uncertainty.

Short term thinking is dangerous

Just as governments’ focus is the tenure of their elected manifesto, 4 years in the case of the UK, so perhaps senior decision makers are guilty of the same thing, short term thinking, rather than long term thinking. Decision makers will be moving on to a different and better role in the future and don’t have accountability for things in the future.

What is this curved ball? Is it artificial intelligence or AI?

The talent pool is aging

No, it is the aging population and the massive impact that this will have on the talent pool available. This challenge affects all organisations of all sizes, and for membership organisations, it affects both their own staffing and the staffing of their member organisations. A topic worthy of attention and time therefore.

It is an especially important issue in areas of skills shortage and in sectors growing in demand, for example health, tech and the caring professions.

Delaying action is risky

Kicking the can down the road is costly, and in a climate of high inflation and rising costs, this is something that no organisation can afford to ignore. What priority does your organisation give this area – modernising workforce planning and talent management?

What gets measured gets done, and few organisations are aware of the age profile of their staff. Is yours? Doing an age-inclusion audit is a starting point from which to benchmark changes and begin making plans.

Age is a D+I protected characteristic

Age is one of the 9 protected D+I characteristics by law. Surprisingly, bearing in mind that all staff have an age and it applies to all staff, it has been neglected for far too long. It is part of compliance and governance as well as being a business imperative.

Age is now impossible to ignore. Why? Because the population is aging.

Did you know that in 1998, 15.9% of the UK population was 65 or over, by 2038, this is projected to be 24.2%. (Source = Global Campaign to combat ageism #AWorldForAllAges)

The Baby Boomer generation (born 1946-1964) are retiring and there aren’t enough younger staff to take their place. With tighter immigration controls post Brexit, this could cause a massive headache.

The UK is experiencing stagnant growth and improving employment participation for people over 50 in the UK would improve per capita GDP by 6.7% in 2050[1].

Solutions to address the challenge of the aging population

These include:

  • Adapting flexible working policies for older workers to take care of children, aging parents and grandchildren and enjoy a better work life balance e.g. introducing good quality part time jobs/job shares, and making flexible working individualised, where possible.

  • Providing skills training for older workers, not just younger workers to refresh their skills and knowledge.

  • Supporting managers how to have career conversations with older workers who are approaching the official retirement age.

  • Getting ‘the elephant in the room’ – exploring age bias/ageism – it affects younger as well as older workers. Younger workers are more likely to vote with their feet and quickly if they are not happy.

  • Equipping managers and leaders with the insights and tools to effectively manage, motivate and engage 5 generations, and create an age-inclusive culture at work.

Some facts about ageism + age-inclusion

  • 1 in 2 people worldwide are ageist. (Source = Unlocking the power of a multigenerational Workforces Part 1)

  • Ageism exacerbates other disadvantage, e.g. race, disability and gender. (Source = Unlocking the power of a multigenerational Workforces Part 1)

  • 83% of global executives recognise that a multi-generational workforce is key to business growth and success. Yet, only 6% of organisations have an unbiased recruitment process. (Source = AARP, OECD, World Economic Forum collaboration ‘Living, learning + earning longer’ study.)

  • Over half (53%) of global executives do not include age in their D+I policy. (Source = AARP, OECD, World Economic Forum collaboration ‘Living, learning + earning longer’ study.)

  • 96% of HR workers feel that mature workers bring significant value to their companies (Source = Randstad Risesmart).

  • 55% of workers aged over 55 want to continue working beyond 65 (Source = 55/Redefined and ProAge research ‘Shut out, forced out and overlooked’ 2021).

  • 65% of workers aged over 55 believe the jobs market is closed to them when applying. (Source = 55/Redefined and ProAge research ‘Shut out, forced out and overlooked’ 2021).

  • The ability for 50+ workers to get access to new opportunities can be influenced by the age of the recruiting manager. In response to the question….’How willing/motivated are you to hire 55-75 year-olds into your organisation?’

    • 24% of HR Leaders aged 25-30 said “Very”

    • 63% of HR Leaders aged 46-50

  • Only 1 in 3 workers see retirement as a ‘career cul de sac’ where they stop work from 1 day to the next. Retirement doesn’t have to be a ‘steep slope’, a gentle slope could be a better plan for both the employer and employee.

Benefits of multi-generational teams

Utilising 5 generations at work together in harmony provides multiple benefits. These include:

  • Increased productivity;

  • Stronger talent pipeline;

  • Greater diversity of skills and outlook;

  • Better retention of experience and know-how;

  • Increased resilience; and

  • Better access to multi-skilled teams.

How will your membership organisation tackle these challenges and help your members to?



Book your place at ProAge’s roundtable event ‘It’s all about older workers’ with Membership World on Tuesday 14 March 2023 in Birmingham:

Book your ticket now to secure your place – limited availability. Early booking essential.

Visit our ProAge web site and get in touch for a confidential conversation about your organisation. Follow our ProAge LinkedIn company page for up-to-date posts about age-inclusion and multi-generational workforces. View ProAge Services. Leadership and training Research and thought leadership

Event guest speaker Shruti Singh

Shruti Singh - Senior Economist, Ageing and Employment Policies at the OECD will be speaking and sharing highlights of her new report ‘Retaining Talent at All Agesshared at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland January 2023.

Key findings from the report are:

  • The main reasons for people switching jobs are: low pay, feeling undervalued, and lack of advancement.

  • Helping workers maintain their good health and keep their skills up to date are essential elements in making it possible for older workers to continue working in quality jobs.

  • Older workers are more likely to leave the labour market than switch jobs.

After her presentation, Shruti and Mike from ProAge will facilitate a group discussion to see how the recommendations from the report can be applied in your organisations and those of your members.

Mike Mansfield, ProAge CEO will be facilitating a discussion about the issues raised.

Gordon Glenister, Membership World founder will be chairing the event.


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