Department for Work and Pensions Age Positive at Work Award

Award profile

The Department for Work and Pensions Age Positive at Work Award will be presented to an organisation that can demonstrate its commitment to achieving age positive practices in the workplace. The judge is looking for examples of best practice in the various stages of the employment process, from recruitment and selection, training and development, through to promotion, redundancy and retirement.


The team – HR & Payroll

No. in team: 10
No. in HR function: 10
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 465

About the organisation

The museum, based in Greenwich, works to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people.

The challenge

  • The museum recognised a strong age imbalance, which was predominantly white, male and over 50

  • To adapt its HR policies and practices to promote fairness of opportunity and flexibility for older workers.

What the organisation did

  •  Abolished its mandatory retirement age in 2002, before any legislative requirement

  • Consulted with staff, senior management and pension providers before any changes were made

  • Began modernising its employment practices to ensure that recruitment and selection procedures were subject to fair and open competition

  • Implemented training programmes to deliver development for individuals whatever their age.

Benefits and achievements

  • By 2005, more than 10% of staff were under 25, 15.5% were in their late 20s, 39% were between 30 and 50, and one-third between 50 and 75

  • Museum customer satisfaction at the end of April 2005 was 98%

  • A diverse, productive workforce with different attitudes, skills and knowledge.

Category judge Sam Mercer says: “Shortlisted for becoming one of the first public sector bodies to remove its mandatory retirement age (overcoming initial concerns of further age imbalance in favour of older workers) and for effectively delivering flexible working/retirement and training to ensure focus is on the individual rather than their age. Recognition is given for flexible working arrangements that are also available to younger staff.”


The team – From Little Acorns to Mighty Oaks

No. in team: 4
No. in HR function: 80
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 10,000

About the organisation

Based on Merseyside, St Helens is among a handful of elite councils across the country to be awarded excellent status for the second year running.

The challenge

  • In 2003, the age profile revealed a picture of a declining supply of young people entering employment and training opportunities with the council

  • A culture had developed among young people which led them to have little interest in further education, training or work-based learning

  • The council was conscious of its role as a community leader in tackling social exclusion and ensuring it had a qualified and trained workforce.

What the organisation did

  • Launched Apprentices on Placement scheme, increasing the number of young people from all backgrounds accessing employment and training opportunities within the council

  • Set up the Supporting Disabled People Service – developing opportunities for and placing disabled people across the council

  • Acknowledged the value of older workers.

Benefits and achievements

  • The policies have initiated a culture change among managers regarding the abilities of young people

  • Enhanced managers’ perceptions of the ability of older employees

  • The Department for Work and Pensions has recognised St Helens as an Age Positive Employer Champion – one of only four councils in England to achieve this.

Category judge Sam Mercer says: “St Helens Council has been shortlisted for a well-developed initiative, not only in recognition of the need to represent the community it serves, but also in response to skills shortages affecting public sector organisations. This initiative recognises issues at both ends of the age spectrum.”


The team – Placement Service, Organisation and Workforce Development Team

No. in team: 5
No. in HR function: 196
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 10,800

About the organisation

Bradford Council is a large metropolitan council responsible for a wide range of public services. Its official title is the City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council. It was formed in 1974 following a national re-organisation of the local government system.

The challenge

  • To reflect in its workforce and practices the age range and diversity of the communities it serves

  • Raising the education and experiential skills base of young people in the Bradford district.

What the organisation did

  • Introduced a Corporate Placement Service to ensure opportunities are offered on an equitable basis, to facilitate placements and promote their value to the organisation

  • The service has been streamlined, replacing former ad hoc departmental processes, removing variable and potentially inequitable practices

  • Regular updates about the service are posted on the HR website with effective monitoring and evaluation undertaken for all departments.

Benefits and achievements

  • Scheme allows the council to use the skills, knowledge and viewpoints of future council tax payers in shaping services

  • Influences recruitment by providing tasters for careers in local government and supports the aim of being an employer of choice

  • Improves the council’s image and demonstrates commitment to fairness and inclusion for all communities.

Category judge Sam Mercer says: “The council has been shortlisted for its work experience programme, designed to provide ‘tasters for careers in local government’ and opportunities for people in the Bradford area. By streamlining existing ad hoc programmes, this scheme has not only improved the council’s reputation as an employer, but has also helped address recruitment issues for the public sector by providing younger people, and those in the process of changing careers, with experience of working for a local authority. The scheme is open to people of all ages.”


The team – HR policy and diversity team

No. in team: 3
No. in HR function: 67
No. of employees HR is responsible for: 8,445

About the organisation
Established in 1862, Land Registry is the government department responsible to the secretary of state for constitutional affairs and the Lord Chancellor, which maintains the Land Register of England and Wales. Land Registry guarantees the title to registered estates and interests in land.

The challenge

  • Staff feedback and evaluation of diversity training days identified a need to address deep-seated cultural views about age

  • Implement changes to deal with individuals’ attitudes to age ahead of new legislation.

    What the organisation did

  • Looked to raise awareness by including age stereotyping in its programme of diversity training being rolled out to all staff

  • Produced a leaflet for all staff emphasising their role in tackling the issues, rather than it just being an HR procedural approach

  • Involved people from across the HR group, not just those specialising in diversity work.

Benefits and achievements

  • Beginning to challenge people’s attitudes well ahead of legislation

  • Management board has endorsed a manda-tory programme of diversity training for all staff – a huge time commitment

  • Created a training programme that includes an e-learning package, delivered by a local management trainer.

Category judge Sam Mercer says: “Land Registry has been shortlisted for its comprehensive approach to addressing age in the workforce. Taking an industry lead not only with age-neutral recruitment, but also for establishing effective age monitoring and for tackling probably the most difficult issue on the age agenda – the UK’s ageist culture – head on. Land Registry has further demonstrated best practice by embedding age within performance management training to ensure that ‘age’ doesn’t stand alone as a ‘diversity initiative’ or a knee-jerk response to changing demographics.”

The sponsor

Age Positive is a government campaign, spearheaded by the minister for pensions, which is seeking to tackle age discrimination in employment and raise awareness of the business benefits of a mixed-age workforce. Find out more at

The category judge

Sam Mercer, director of the Employers Forum on Age (EFA) In addition to managing the EFA on a day-to-day basis, Mercer is responsible for
determining key campaign issues with EFA employers, and the forum’s relationship with government and the media.

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