UK business braced for ageing-workforce health issues
by Gill Montia
In its latest Health of the Workplace report, Aviva is claiming that companies are already seeing a change in their workforce demographics, prompting fears that ageing-workforce health issues will affect their business.
The removal of the Default Retirement Age, increased longevity and continued financial pressures on the over 55s mean that nearly a third of employers questioned are already seeing a rise in the average age of their employees.
While half of respondents believe there are positive benefits for individuals working past the traditional retirement age, nearly two fifths think that health issues associated with an ageing workforce will impact their operations.
A quarter of firms questioned have concerns about a rise in sickness absence rates and a similar proportion think older employees could be absent with more serious conditions than younger workers.
A third of employers said they would need to offer different health advice; one in five thought they would need to offer different health benefits; a quarter said they would need training to help spot signs of serious illnesses, such as dementia.
In addition, over a third realised they may need to introduce flexible working hours for older employees.
The report also reveals that employees’ requirements change with age and as a result, so do the benefits that they value.
Over a third of employees over 55 said that having access to private medical insurance could help them stay healthy, compared to a fifth of 25-34-year-olds.
Dr Doug Wright, medical director for Aviva UK Health says: “It’s encouraging to see from our report that employers recognise the role they hold in helping to keep their employees healthy – and in particular the need to adapt the support and benefits they offer to suit the differing healthcare needs of an older workforce.”
Aviva’s Health of the Workplace report is an annual study involving 1,000 UK employers and 1,000 employees, conducted by One Poll.