Learning and development (L&D) opportunities are a driving force when it comes to attracting and retaining talent. Research by the IMC found that 92% of job candidates use L&D opportunities as a deciding factor when considering job offers – as well as 52% of employees having left a role due to a lack of personal or professional development opportunities.
So why are there less developmental opportunities for older workers?
The answer is ageism – whether it be direct or subtle, purposeful or unconscious, there are pre-existing notions about someone when they reach a certain age. These notions act as barriers to career growth that need to be challenged and erased in order to unlock all of the potential of such a large proportion of the workforce.
Almost one-third of workers (32%) are now aged 50 or over. And yet, despite there being such a large presence of midlife workers in the UK workforce, 34% of these employees are unsatisfied with the few developmental opportunities available to them. And almost half (48%) say that their age is stopping them from getting a better job.
But what is really stopping them are these unconscious biases rooted in ageism. Managers may assume midlife workers are overqualified for a role, or assume that they aren’t tech-savvy, or that they will be too expensive to hire…
These are just a handful of stereotypes that perpetuate the ideology that midlife workers no longer have an appetite to learn, develop, and grow in their career – when the reality is the opposite! Just under 30% of people who are 55 and over want to improve their skills but are daunted by the idea of asking their employer to help.
And this is just those that already want to improve. If all midlife workers knew that there were learning and development opportunities on offer to them, think about many more would be interested!
Employers who are recognizing these biases and actively working towards erasing them are the ones who are going to be able to reap all the business benefits that age inclusivity has to offer. This starts by weaving this inclusivity into their hiring strategy, as this will give them access to the best and most diverse talent available. And if that isn’t enough, intergenerational teams are proven to be happier, to foster two-way mentoring relationships, and to increase customer satisfaction.
From a business perspective, as well as a social one, shattering the glass ceiling on ageism in the workplace is the smartest move a company can make.
If you would like to discuss how we can help weave age inclusion into your hiring strategy and company culture, please get in touch with us.
Benefit programs play a pivotal role in attracting and retaining talent – but how can you ensure that your benefits programs meet the diverse needs of employees of different ages?
Currently, there are four different generations in the workforce: so what does each generation value most?
Born between 1946 – 1964, the boomers are well into their midlife. And yet, it is no secret that a lot of mature workers are still active, with 25% of the US workforce being comprised of those aged 58 and above. This is largely due to the fact that people are living longer and healthier lives, and so are better able to work to retirement and beyond.
Therefore, it may come as no surprise that the benefits these people tend to value most are health related – health insurance, dental and vision coverage, as well as retirement plans and discounts on health services (such as chiropractic care).
This generation make up the highest percentage of executive roles, as well as being typically very skilled and specialized. While they have most likely paid off any student debts, they usually have families to support financially and emotionally, and so the benefits they value the most reflect this.
Gen Xers look for 401K plans with matching benefits, opportunities for advancement and opportunities for work-life balance. This would make the offering of increased time off or sabbatical particularly attractive to this generation. As well as being parents and supporting their young-adult children, this generation are likely to have unpaid caring duties towards their elderly parents, and so having specific benefits to help with this caregiving would also be incredibly attractive to this group.
Millennials are those born between 1981 – 1995, and currently make up the majority of the US workforce, at 35%. This group of people are starting to grow their families, pay back student loans and purchase property, and so the benefits they tend to value the most are paid time off, flexible spending for dependent care and health, flexible working schedules, and financial advice.
A survey found that among millennials who already had children, 72% of them cited that the lack of affordable childcare was a barrier to meeting their career goals. When paired with student loan debts and the rising prices of housing, basing your benefit programs around financial assistance in these areas will be extremely enticing to this generation of the workforce.
The most recent influx into the workforce, Gen Z currently only make up 5% of it in the US, but the number is quickly rising. The youngest generation are bringing with them a new attitude towards working life, and prioritize boundaries and balance so that they can indulge in a personal life and avoid physical and mental burnout from being overworked, as seen from the quiet quitting phenomenon.
They value many similar benefits to millennials – paid time off, student loan assistance, flexible working options – but are also the most socially progressive of any generation. A lot of Gen Z candidates are looking for what mental health support services companies are offering, as well as how diverse and inclusive they are, as this reflects the type of culture they will be working in.
Even though different generations want different things, there are ways of appealing to them all through your benefit programs. One way of approaching this is offering a standardized set that considers a key element from each, therefore making you more attractive as an employer to a larger population of workers.
Another way you could do this is by working with your HR team to design benefit programs to support and meet your people in various seasons of life. There are strategic ways you can vary your benefit plan offerings, while managing your benefit compliance responsibilities.
With the cost-of-living crisis happening in real time, understanding the needs of the workforce is paramount to finding, securing, and retaining the right talent for your business. So, if you need detailed guidance on how to design strong, appealing benefit programs, get in touch with us here or with me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020
I found myself smiling recently as my lovely mum, Nora – who is 84 – declared her absolute exasperation that her doctor had not prescribed her a medication she thought she absolutely should have.
So, why was I smiling?
Her request had been for hormone replacement therapy – HRT!
As I poured us both a cup of tea, I was really intrigued as to how the conversation had gone.
She shared with her doctor that I was on HRT and that I had been free of joint pain and other menopause-related symptoms. Although I had been sceptical to try it, I now advocated it and as a result she thought she would like it too. He asked why she felt the need to try it now and she said: “Because I want to feel at my best for as long as I can”.
His response to her really warmed me. “You are a beautiful woman. You are 84. And you are a perfect example of a post-menopausal woman in the springtime of her life. You need sun, and smiles, and daily doses of whatever it is you are already doing.”
My mum was of a generation that did not talk about the menopause through both stigma and shame and never complained when the obvious symptoms presented themselves.
They just ‘got on with it’.
I love that mum is full of energy and life and no longer ashamed to talk about the personal stuff.
So, as we mark World Menopause Day, it is a missed opportunity if we ‘just get on with it’. Today should be a celebration – an opportunity to recognise we are in the springtime of our lives!
Because there is more support than ever for us to open up about how the change in our bodies impact our physical, biological, and psychological state.
I have been an Ambassador, an Ally and – so I have been told – very loud in sharing the knowledge and insights I have on the topic across boardrooms and organizations in every sector. The menopause does not discriminate, 100% of females will face it and my hope is that they will embrace it.
As an organisation, OrgShakers have taken to the topic of midlife very seriously as there is a commercial benefit to every business for doing so.
For the first time in history, one third of the global workforce is over 50! That alone is staggering when you think of the paradigm shift in thinking for the policies, processes and programs that need to support and enhance everyone to be at their best.
If you need some help on starting to support those undergoing these midlife changes at work, here are five things you can do as a leader:
And please do get in contact with me at email@example.com to keep the conversation alive.
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020
In June Carers Week 2022 published a report highlighting the challenges facing working carers in the UK.
Both WeMa and Wagestream are actively engaged in helping working carers cope with the burden of caring for sick or elderly relatives, and their perspective on the report’s findings were enlightening and provocative!
Here is a brief extract from our conversation:
One statistic that stood out to me in the Carers Week report is that workers on lower incomes are disproportionately impacted by the need to provide unpaid care for a loved one – 34% of carers with an annual household income of £20,000 or less are caring for over 20 hours a week, compared to 24% of carers from higher income households.
For me that cuts right to the heart of why employers need to help their people on lower incomes access services and manage their day-to-day finances.
Because you’re more likely to face mental health issues due to your inability to be able to get the help you need, or to speak up about the problems you’re facing, because of the fear of losing your job, or whatever it might be.
I think there are two angles to this.
Firstly, the number of people now caring for their family has significantly increased; there were 4.5 million additional informal carers in the UK in the 6 months from the start of Covid back in early 2020 (2.6 million of these were working carers). Did you know, by 2025 there will be more adults of working age with adult dependents compared with child dependents?
As well has having little knowledge of how to care, finding time to do so around work, and not being paid for the care they deliver, two-thirds of these carers are in fact using their own income and savings to cover the cost of care for their loved ones, 40% of which are struggling to make ends meet. It’s these people that we’re really trying to support with the WeMa service, because they’re struggling massively.
Secondly, there’s the shortage of professional care workers – and the challenge you’ve got there is that it’s a very low paid job. This is one of the biggest factors as to getting more people coming into those jobs, but it’s also a very difficult, demanding job which must be respected much more than it currently is. The lack of professional carers puts more pressure back on the informal carer.
To build on what you were saying about the impact on these people, Therese, other research has shown that 54% of carers suffer from negatively impacted financial wellbeing, 70% suffer with mental ill health, and 60% struggle with physical ill health due to the burden of delivering that care.
Add to that the fact that the Carers Week report says that more than 10.5 million adults in the UK are now acting as unpaid carers. I mean, there are only 12 million frontline workers in the UK and there are only around 30 million employees in all, so around a third of the total workforce are impacted by this.
And the burden will often fall on lower-income households which aren’t given access to affordable private healthcare to help.
I think that’s why this conversation is really timely. If you look at the social care market, everyone’s trying to figure out how are people going to fund their care moving forward, because they’ll definitely be a very limited amount of money going into it through the state.
The cost per hour of privately funded homecare can range anything from £19 to £30 per hour – the average is estimated to be £21.50. So, based on 2 hours a day, 5 days a week of care required for an individual who’s got, say, early-stage dementia, that’s about £13,500 a year.
So, the question is what kind of support can we put in place around access to care services and the finances to pay for that care?
We also have to remember that some of that support is short term. If an elderly relative has just come out of hospital I don’t need six weeks off, but I desperately need two or three days.
So, I think the thing that employees want more than anything, is some flexibility. And what you’re both giving in different ways is a new flexibility for people to be able to shape and live their lives.
Vivek, your WeMa service is helping working carers to connect quickly and simply with healthcare providers in the community, removing the massive stress and distraction of accessing the services their loved ones need.
And Max, Wagestream, for example, might be helping someone in a situation where they’ve just had to fork out £50 or £60 on some stuff from Amazon that’s going to help an elderly person coming out of hospital live their life a bit easier. When you’re on £20,000 or less, you’re a frontline worker, and you’ve budgeted every single penny, and you’ve got all the utilities going up, how can you afford this stuff that then comes on top? Being able to access the wages you’ve already earned can be a lifesaver in that kind of situation.
I’d like to add to that too. We’re now finalizing an income protection insurance to cover people on zero-hours contracts for sick leave.
On a zero-hours contract if you don’t do any hours you don’t get any money, right? So, there’s a very innovative insurance company we’re working with to underwrite it so that you can insure yourself very cheaply – it’s hopefully going to be something like £2.00-3.00 a month to insure yourself for a set number of weeks’ pay if you get sick.
We’re still ironing out the details but could imagine a very similar product to insure against time off for care.
I think the bottom line here is that there’s no money from state to support working carers – and there’s going to be limited funding for social care going forward.
So, it’s going to come down to employers giving their people the support they need to deal with it in their own way. I wonder what incentives the government could give to businesses to stimulate business-backed support?
And I think the more we can get that into the mindset of the CEOs and the board – the people that are making decisions around the table – the better, because this has got to go faster up the agenda.
It shouldn’t be this difficult for working carers!
If you’d like to find out more about any of the issues we were discussing, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020
In both the US and the UK employers are waking up to the fact that the workforce is ageing. And they should, because for the first time in history, over 1/3rd of the working population are over 50!
There is growing evidence, however, that organizations on both sides of the Atlantic are failing to act.
In the UK the Chartered Management Institute (CIM) works with business and education to inspire people to become skilled leaders.
Their research found that although 85% of managers taking part in a recent survey said their organization was age inclusive, only 5% reported proactive efforts to recruit older workers.
Ann Francke, the CMI’s chief executive, described this as “a wake-up call for all organizations to practice what they preach”.
Meanwhile, in the US AARP is the nation’s largest nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering Americans 50 and older to choose how they live as they age.
In a recent interview AARP’s CEO, Jo Ann Jenkins, highlighted that “78% of our members recently surveyed told us they had faced some type of age discrimination in the last year … Yet, at the same time, older people are going to be the solution for many companies that are trying to hire people to deal with labor shortages and bring folks back into the workplace.”
OrgShakers’ Therese Procter reflected at the end of last year that “for many years the HR community (me included!) put our energy, focus and effort on progressive processes and practices that were supporting the needs of the younger working generation. Many of these innovations were ground-breaking – especially around maternity/paternity, IVF, adoption, childcare, etc. – and we should be proud of what we achieved.
“However, the ageing workforce means that we now have to widen our focus to meet the wellbeing and mental health needs of those in midlife and to consider how they can help them to live their best life while performing their job.”
As a proud midlife HR practitioner, Therese’s aim – along with her likeminded OrgShakers colleagues around the world – is to shine a light for employers on the issues people face at midlife and to provide education, policies, training, seminars, and guidelines to ensure organizations can maximize the performance of an age diverse workforce.
If you would like to know more, please get in touch: email@example.com
A YouGov survey of 1,025 HR decision makers working across UK businesses has found that almost three quarters (72%) of businesses do not have a menopause policy.
This is despite it being widely accepted that the effects of the menopause can be debilitating for a woman’s physical and psychological wellbeing.
Symptoms such as joint pain, hot flushes, memory loss, fatigue, and anxiety can have a huge impact on a women’s confidence and workplace performance.
Indeed, a recent survey published by renowned GP and menopause specialist Dr Louise Newson found that 99% of respondents said their perimenopausal or menopausal symptoms had led to a negative impact on their careers, with more than a third calling the impact ‘significant’.
Almost 20% were off more than eight weeks and half of this group resigned or took early retirement.
Key findings from the YouGov survey include:
The YouGov survey was commissioned by employment law specialists at Irwin Mitchell. The total sample size was 1,025 HR decision makers and fieldwork was undertaken between 10th – 28th February 2022. The survey was carried out online.
In this episode of the HR Leaders podcast, Chris Rainey is joined by Therese Procter of OrgShakers and Vivek Patni, CEO and Co-Founder WeMa.
With one-third of the workforce now over the age of 50, their focus for discusion is how organizations can optimize this often overlooked pool of talent.
Midlife is a pivotal period in our life journey. It can suck – or rock!
Neither well defined nor well understood, Midlife is described simply as ‘the time between youth and old age’. A time which is often associated with stress and crisis – especially for women.
I can relate to this, but there are many positives to celebrate in Midlife too, including higher earnings, status at work, leadership in the family, authority in decision-making, self-confidence, and contribution to the community.
The reality is that these negative and positive aspects of Midlife are not exclusive to women – these are things we will all experience.
Employers are slowly starting to take more interest in Midlife workers … and they should, because for the first time in history, over 1/3rd of the working population are over 50!
On reflection I realise that for many years the HR community (me included!) put our energy, focus and effort on progressive processes and practices that were supporting the needs of the younger working generation. Many of these innovations were ground-breaking – especially around maternity/paternity, IVF, adoption, childcare, etc. – and we should be proud of what we achieved.
However, the ageing workforce means that we now have to widen our focus to meet the wellbeing and mental health needs of those in Midlife and to consider how they can help them to live their best life while performing their job.
I suggest there are three issues we need to prioritise:
In most cases if these issues are identified early, they can be treated positively and permanently.
So, is your organization encouraging Midlife colleagues to be aware of these issues and encouraging them to get regular health checks? And are they being given time to get appointments booked and time off to support these issues?
I’m in the camp that wants to Rock my mid life and get up every day and perform at my best.
So, I recently started taking HRT – not because I had any menopausal symptoms, but because my mum has osteoporosis. I have also had a blood tests and bone scans.
My parents are my role models, they exercise every day and have done since I can remember, and they are 83!
Diet and exercise are important. And so is being aware of what is going on in our bodies.
So, my call to arms is for all of us in Midlife to take control of ensuring that we can live our best lives – and for organizations to provide the encouragement, environment, and policies that support their employees throughout their working lives.
For more information, training, policy reviews or insight on how your business can navigate this important topic and “shake” things up, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The ageing population means that there are more midlife workers than ever before.
The employment rate for 50- to 64-year-olds in the UK has risen from 56% 30-years ago to 73% today – and it’s still rising.
We know that knowledge, skills, and experience are at their peak in midlife. And for employers to optimise these, they need to better understand and answer the needs of midlife workers.
Working Carers. Working age people will soon have more adult dependants than child dependants, with 1 in 6 of the workforce currently balancing their ‘day job’ with adult care responsibilities.
The pressures created by this balancing act can be enormous, with many being forced to take a career break.
Midlife workers the most likely to fall into this category, and the pandemic has had a massive impact on them with 81% saying caring responsibilities have grown due to Covid-19 and 74% feeling exhausted because of the increased stress.
Menopause and andropause are a biological fact of life and many organisations are starting to implement policies and workplace principles to support their employees through these changes.
More remains needs to be done, however, to educate managers and those without experience of midlife issues.
Career opportunities. Perversely, career and personal development opportunities for midlife workers slow down at precisely the moment they have the most to offer.
Some organisations offer a ‘returnship’ programs for individuals who have had to take a midlife career break, but these are currently very inconsistent with varied success.
There is also disparity in gender pay – especially if a person has been out of the workplace for some time and then returning.
As a proud midlife HR practitioner my aim is to shine a light for employers on the issues people face at midlife and to provide education, policies, training, seminars, and guidelines to ensure organizations can maximise the performance of an age diverse workforce.
I’m also very privileged to work with companies who are developing products to support businesses with these issues and, in doing so, help us all to live our best life, for the rest of our life.
Phil Mickelson stunned the golf world on Sunday when he finished off his win in the PGA Championship to become, at 50, the oldest golfer ever to win a major championship.
He finished the event shooting six under par. After his win, praise flooded in from across not just the golf community, but from other star athletes and celebrities across the world. His performance was truly inspiring.
What came after, was not so much an explanation of how Mickelson reached the finest achievement of his career, but insistence of how he never believed his time on golf’s frontline was over.
Mickelson admitted ”it is very possible that this is the last tournament I ever win. It’s also very possible that I may have had a little bit of a breakthrough in some of my focus and maybe I’ll go on a little bit of a run. But the point is, there’s no reason why I or anybody else can’t do it at a later age … it just takes a little bit more work.”
This immediately made me think of my father Michael.
At 83 years young, his passion for golf is a strong today as it was at the age of 7 when the Christian Brother monks would give him time off school from so he could caddy for American visitors at the course near his home in Lehinch, Co. Clare in Ireland. He received golf balls as payment and split the proceeds with the monks.
Last year, he won the senior singles competition at his club against a 55-year-old opponent.
He’d previously won the same title in 1996 – but he wasn’t going to let 24 years, two hip replacements, a knee replacement, and COPD get in his way!
Like Phil Mickelson, he believes that there’s no reason why you can’t keep going – and that one day, when the wind is on your back and the sun on your face … you might just get a win!
My dad really inspires me never to give up and to keep on learning. It’s a lesson I’ve taken from him and one I’ve passed to my two daughters and the countless leaders I’ve had the privilege to coach.
My colleague Pamela Kingsland at Orgshakers also talks and writes about how we can keep developing and learning all through our lives and age should never be a barrier.
As a woman who is now mid-life, I’m so encouraged by that.
And both Phil and my Dad are testament to the fact that for all the mid-lifers (and even those who’ve entered later-life) … now is our time!
As I was writing this, a poem I had read some time ago came into my head: ‘Don’t Let Anyone Mess With Your Swing’.
It wasn’t written for golf, but it could have been. It was written about a Boston baseball player called Ted Williams, and this verse is my favourite:
Enjoy your talents. Have your fling.
The seasons change. The years advance.
Watch the ball and do your thing.
And don’t let anybody mess with your swing.