More than 100 leading organisations and businesses, as well as many smaller ones, have joined the Ageing Better Age-friendly Employer Pledge scheme within its first 100 days. More than 200,000 employees now work at organisations that have signed.
The scheme is a free, nationwide programme to support employers who recognise the importance of older workers in boosting productivity and filling key skills gaps. The nationwide programme requires employers to commit to taking one action a year to improve the recruitment, retention and development of older workers.
Organisations across the country have signed the pledge and from a broad range of sectors including recruitment, construction, health and social care, charity, manufacturing, finance, leisure and hospitality. Around half of businesses and organisations to have signed the pledge are SMEs with fewer than 50 employees, while one in four are larger employers with more than 1,000 employees.
The pledge has launched as the issue of economic inactivity among older workers has risen in importance for the government: a House of Lords report published in December cited early retirement as the biggest factor behind the UK’s skills and labour shortages and warned the rise in inactivity poses serious challenges to the UK economy. As well as a number of new policies announced in the recent Budget, Work and Pensions Minister Mel Stride is leading a review of economic inactivity, due to conclude in May.
The number of inactive 50 to 64 year olds has increased by 320,000 since before the pandemic, with this age group accounting for 65% of the increase in working-age inactivity over this period. The employment gap between 35-49 and 50-64 year olds now stands at 14.6 percentage points – 1.5 percentage points higher than at the start of the pandemic.
Under the Age-friendly Employer Pledge, businesses and organisations identify a senior sponsor for age-inclusion within their workforce and ensure that age is specifically named within their Equality, Diversity and Inclusion policies.
Employers are also supported with practical guides and resources including case studies and examples to help them improve their practice and a learning network where they can share challenges and successes with fellow employers. Potential actions from participating employees include reducing age bias in recruitment and introducing flexible working which are vital to helping over 50s remain in work.