Business gains benefit from flexible retirement policies

The introduction of flexible retirement policies helps employers improve
recruitment and retention according to research commissioned by the Department
for Work and Pensions.

The study, published at the Employers Forum on Age’s (EFoA) annual
conference last week, shows that policies allowing older staff more choice over
how and when they retire mean they are likely to stay longer with an
organisation.

Hiring staff over the age of 55 also increases the firm’s recruitment pool,
improves the corporate brand and is an effective strategic response to
demographic changes, the report finds.

Marks & Spencer, one of the organisations featured in the research, has
seven times more staff over the age of 65 years since scrapping mandatory
retirement last year.

The firm now has 171 staff over 65 compared to 27 in 2001.

Mark Watson, employment policy advisor at Marks & Spencer, said line
managers back the move.

"Managers were phoning HR asking what could be done when a member of
staff approached retirement age and neither the manager nor the staff member
want them to leave," he said.

"Now we are able to keep good quality and highly motivated staff.

"In affluent areas with zero unemployment this has eased difficult
recruitment challenges."

All 20 large organisations in the study, including ASDA, B&Q, Nationwide
and BUPA, report that the implementation of flexible retirement is difficult
despite the business benefits.

Obstacles include Inland Revenue pension rules and the perception that older
staff have outdated skills, more time off sick and will block the promotion of
young staff.

www.efa.org.uk

By Ross Wigham

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