Nearly half of the UK workforce backs the Government’s plans to phase out the default retirement age (DRA), according to new research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
In the survey of 2,000 workers, 44% said that they oppose the DRA, with just 25% supporting enforced retirement at 65.
Older workers are significantly more likely to oppose the DRA than younger workers, with nearly six in 10 (56%) of those aged 55 and older disagreeing with the legislation, compared to 35% of 18- to 24-year-olds.
The survey, which helped inform the CIPD response to the Government’s consultation on its plans to phase out the DRA by October 2011, also shows that 41% of employees plan to work beyond the state retirement age, compared with 29% who do not.
Among those employees planning to work beyond the state retirement age, financial reasons are cited by 72% of respondents. This is closely followed by people’s needs and aspirations to continue using their skills and experience (47%), benefitting from social interaction in the workplace (41%) and self-esteem (34%).
Dianah Worman, diversity adviser at the CIPD, said: “The survey results show support from UK workers for the action the Government is taking to phase out the DRA. Its removal will put employers in a strong position to access a wider pool of mature talent. It will build on the beneficial experiences of UK employers who have already abandoned compulsory retirement ages.”
There are “clear business benefits” to employing a workforce that is age-diverse and reflects organisations’ customer profiles, according to Worman.
“Employers that already operate without a formal retirement age report that older workers typically have a great rapport with customers, as well as a conscientious attitude and real enthusiasm for the job,” she said.
But Worman warned that employers will need to make sure their people management policies and practices are in “mint condition” to manage an increasingly age-diverse workforce.
“Effective and fair performance management across the whole workforce will be critical, as will inclusive and creative approaches to flexible working, to support businesses in meeting their goals,” she said.
“If employers drag their heels in getting to grips with an ageing population and the associated 21st-century people-management challenges, they will fall behind more progressive competitors in sustaining business performance.”