Older line managers are less likely to feel it’s their job to support the health and wellbeing of their employees than their younger counterparts, research has suggested.
A study by vocational rehabilitation provider Working To Wellbeing found one in five (19%) line managers aged 55 or over did not think supporting their colleagues’ wellbeing was an integral or important part of their job. This compared to just 7% of younger line managers who felt the same way.
A fifth (22%) of older line managers also said they struggled to talk to their teams about mental health and wellbeing, saying “it doesn’t come easily to them”. This, again, compared to the much lower 11% of those aged under-34, and the 13% reported by those aged 35 to 54.
The poll of 510 UK line managers and 1,068 UK workers carried out in October found older line managers felt less equipped to support their teams on their overall wellbeing.
Only half of those aged 55+ (49%) thought they had received sufficient training from their employer, compared to almost two-thirds (63%) of those aged 18 to 34.
And only 17% of over-55s “strongly” agreed they had had sufficient training, versus almost double that (32%) among under-34s.
Intriguingly, however, despite this 60% of line managers aged 55+ still felt confident of being able to spot early warning signs of poor mental wellbeing among colleagues. This was nevertheless lower than the 73% of line managers aged under 35 who said the same.
When it came to employees, just 40% of employees aged 55+ said they felt happy talking to their line manager about their mental health. This compared to more than half (54%) of under-35s and 53% of those aged 35-54.
Less than half (46%) of workers aged 55+ felt confident having a conversation with their line manager about their wellbeing at a time of crisis, compared to 65% of those aged under 35.
Dr Julie Denning, managing director and chartered health psychologist at Working To Wellbeing and chair of the Vocational Rehabilitation Association, said: “As the UK population ages and the cost-of-living soars, the multi-generational workplace will be very much the norm in the years ahead.
“From a workplace wellbeing perspective, it’s crucial that employers recognise the challenges, as well as the opportunities, this can bring. Line managers, who are often at the coalface and whose role is pivotal to supporting their colleagues at work, need to be equipped, confident and ready to best support their workforce,” she added.