Encourage over 50s to stay at work

Liberal Democrats leader Charles Kennedy has claimed that the retirement of the “baby boomer” generation ought to be treated as an “opportunity” and not as a “demographic timebomb“.

As Kennedy rightly noted, the management of retirement itself is set for a change. “Retirement should be seen as a process, rather than a single irreversible event,” he says.

However, he went on to say: “We need to change the rules so that people can carry on working part-time and still receive a pension from their company. This will allow people to gradually wind down their work with the comfort of some of the pension they have earned.”

I applaud Kennedy’s commitment to the continuation of people’s working lives, but instead of putting workers out to grass gradually rather than in one fell swoop, what is needed is a shift in employers’ attitudes towards older employees.

The pigeonholing of employees both young and old will exacerbate the skills crisis as the over-50s begin to outnumber the under-30s. What we have is an ageist “glass-ceiling” – and one that needs to be broken through.

Employers need to wake up to the fact that older staff can, in this health-conscious age, be just as dynamic as younger staff. This is the generation that drove business forward during the technological revolution. These employees are not afraid of a challenge and have experience on their side. Many want to continue to develop their careers and remain in high-level positions – not embrace their bus pass and slippers. Why should we waste their willing, experience and expertise?

Far from a demographic timebomb, the change in dynamics within the workforce offers employers an opportunity – and it is the HR professional’s job to ensure that this opportunity is not wasted.

Tim Bradley

Managing director, Pecaso UK

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