Impact of ageing in the workplace

Tuesday, 08 February 2011

Source: TAEN (Experts on Age and Employment)

Employers should start planning now for the effects an ageing population will have on the workplace, according to Acas, the employment relations service.

It warns that as more and more people live longer, thousands of workers will experience increased pressure as they juggle work with caring duties for elderly relatives. This could see an increase in requests for flexible working and part-time hours to help meet eldercare as well as childcare responsibilities.

Around one in seven of the workforce are also carers and 46 per cent of all carers who work have already changed their working arrangements in some way – figures which are likely to increase.

With the recent announcement that the default retirement age will be removed, employers will also have to tackle the performance management of older workers.

Acas makes a number of predictions in a new discussion paper, The Future of the Workplace. The paper explores the changes to the workplace over the next ten years. Key points covered include the increasingly complex contractual relationships brought about through greater use of outsourcing, mergers and acquisitions, and the related issue of managing an increasingly virtual and mobile workforce.

The paper looks at how unions are using social media to make their voice heard, and seeking new issues around which to organise, and also how employers will deal with, collective disputes in the future.

John Taylor, ACAS Chief Executive, said:

“It’s no surprise that as we see cultural changes the effects will be reflected in our workplaces. We already know that the ageing population is going to have an impact on society and employers need to start thinking now about how they can prepare for issues such as the support employees will need with eldercare responsibilities.

“Looking at the next ten years, the structures and assumptions that are often made about our interactions at work are becoming outdated and we need to reappraise traditional approaches to employment relations.”