What is the best practice?
As the UK workforce ages, (the forecast is that more than 30% of the working population will be over 50 years of age by 2020) employers will require good age management practices to meet the expectations of employees from all generational groups and not least those who are in the third or fourth decades of their careers. It is also likely that at the same time, many employers will witness a workforce decline in experience and knowledge which, will be very difficult to replace in coming years.
The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), defines good age management as being ‘those measures that combat age barriers and promote age diversity’. This should include understanding employee rights and responsibilities, knowing the history of your workforce, promoting flexible working, adopting good recruitment practices, a holistic approach to employee well-being and engaging with pension providers on the topic of retirement planning.
There are 3 key areas in which we would recommend employers take action. These are:
To conduct an annual workforce audit to establish manager core capabilities and the provision of continuous professional development to create confidence in dealing with people management matters. Additionally, introduce a greater emphasis on demographic information and metrics on age and skill profiles within the workforce. However, care should be taken in using age as a category in HR strategic planning.
Placing emphasis on employee engagement will create a greater understanding of individual employee needs and will help to increase age awareness in general management processes. For example, providing managers with support in key aspects such as coaching skills and career management discussions.
The promotion and support of flexible working with the caveat that business or employee performance is maintained and not diminished.
Additionally, consider evaluating the decisions taken on the quantity and type of flexible working requests from employees.
Consider also, the annual leave policy to include family leave and/or life events leave including gap breaks for older staff.
Establish a strategy to locate new talent and potentially look to apprenticeships or workers returning to employment from parental leave.
Importantly consider experience, and do not singularly rely on qualifications as the only criteria for assessing ability or potential.
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