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How flexible working is transforming careers for the over-50s

In this blog we discuss why flexible working is essential to help older employees stay in the workforce and thrive in their careers.

27th May 2024

Earlier this year, the Flexible After Fifty report revealed that nearly three quarters of over-50s are seeking flexible work to achieve a better work-life balance, with a third saying that caregiving responsibilities and a desire for more personal time are key drivers for this.

So what can companies do to make sure they’re creating more age-inclusive working environments where older employees can thrive, and what role does flexible working play in that?

75% of over-50s want to have flexibility in their work to achieve a better work-life balance

The Flexible After Fifty report shows that more and more people over the age of 50 want flexible work. According to the report, a significant 33.2% (equivalent to 3.6 million people) in this age bracket in the UK are now actively participating in part-time work, with a notable spike in working from home. In just three years, from 2020 to 2023, the proportion of over-50s engaging in remote work has more than doubled, increasing from 10% to an impressive 22.4%.

This big jump shows that those over 50 are seeing the benefits of flexible work for them, and are choosing to keep working in different ways even after they hit retirement age.

What is an age-inclusive workplace, and why is it important?

An age-inclusive workplace is one that values and supports employees of all ages, ensuring equal opportunities, respect, and inclusion regardless of age. It recognises the unique strengths and contributions of both younger and older employees, which in result creates a diverse working environment. Here are some reasons why age inclusivity is important:

1. Bringing diverse perspectives to the table: Having a mix of ages in the workplace brings diverse perspectives, which can lead to more innovative solutions and a broader range of ideas.

2. Enhanced skill sets: Hiring employees from a range of ages means your company will have a range of skills and experience among the team. Combining these can enhance overall team performance.

3. Mentorship opportunities: An age-diverse workplace allows for mentoring relationships where experienced workers can pass on knowledge and younger workers can offer new insights.

4. Improved employee retention: By creating an inclusive environment, companies can improve job satisfaction and loyalty among employees of all ages, helping to reduce turnover rates.

By having an age-inclusive workplace, you benefit from a rich mix of experiences, skills, and perspectives, which can drive innovation, improve employee satisfaction, and enhance overall organisational performance.

How flexible working is transforming careers for over-50s

In today's diverse workplaces, empowering older employees through an inclusive work environment is more important than ever, and flexible working plays a key role in achieving this. By offering options like remote work, part-time positions, and flexible hours, companies can meet the unique needs of older employees. This approach not only helps attract and retain experienced talent, but also means that everyone can thrive, regardless of age. Additionally, flexible working is transforming careers for those over 50 by providing opportunities for career changes, improving work-life balance, and helping with continued professional development. Let's look at how flexible working can create a more age-inclusive workplace and transform careers for the over 50s.

Attract and retain diverse talent: By offering flexible work options, companies can improve their chances of attracting and retaining older employees. Whether it's part-time work, remote work, or flexible hours, different options make it easier for employees to stay in work and continue to thrive at what they do.

Work-life balance: For older employees, flexible working can mean the chance to balance work with other commitments, like caring for family or pursuing personal interests. It’s a great way to keep experienced workers engaged without the stress of a rigid schedule. Over the past decade, there has been an increasing number of women in their 40s and 50s leaving the workforce. This trend is largely due to women taking on more caregiving responsibilities, as well as having to navigate different health experiences including menopause. Flexible working arrangements can help address these challenges, making it easier for them to stay in the workforce for longer, if that’s what they want to do.

Smooth transitions: Flexible work can help older employees transition into retirement more gradually. Instead of stopping work abruptly, they can reduce their hours over time, and keep busy as they ease into retirement.

Boosting morale and productivity: When employees, regardless of age, feel their work-life balance is respected, they’re likely to be happier and more productive. Flexible working arrangements can lead to a more motivated and efficient workforce.

Career changes: Flexible working empowers people to pursue career changes by giving them better work-life balance, increased learning opportunities, and the opportunity to experiment with different roles or industries. It means they can work from anywhere, and access a broader job market which they may no have previously had access to due to the lack of flexible roles.

5 ways to create more age-inclusive workplaces

1. Offer flexible working options: Implement flexible work arrangements like remote work, part-time, flexible hours and job sharing. This helps accommodate the needs of employees at different life stages, making it easier for older workers to balance their personal  and professional responsibilities.

2. Provide continuous learning and development: Encourage lifelong learning by offering training and development programs that cater to employees of all ages. This means that older employees can keep their skills updated and feel valued.

3. Create an inclusive culture: Create a workplace culture that values diversity and inclusion. Promote intergenerational collaboration by organising team-building activities and mentorship programs where employees can share their experiences and learn from each other.

4. Address age bias: Actively work to eliminate age-related stereotypes and biases. Make sure that policies and practices, such as recruitment and performance evaluations, are fair and unbiased. Providing training on age diversity and inclusion can help raise awareness and promote a more inclusive environment.

5. Support health and well-being: Offer health and wellness programs that address the needs of employees at different ages. Provide resources and support for managing age-related health issues, such as flexible health benefits, mental health support, and wellness initiatives that cater to older employees.

By implementing these strategies, companies can create a more age-inclusive workplace that values and supports employees of all ages, creating a more diverse and inclusive work environment.

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