We are delighted to have a guest blog from James Rind, a Workplace Health & Wellbeing Consultant:

By 2020 a third of the UK workforce will be aged 50 or over and so be considered ‘Ageing’ workers. This is due in part to both a historical reduction in birth rates and the consequence of the recent abolishment of the default retirement age.

Employers are being faced with a confusing and unqualified problem. It is further compounded by the presence of commonly held age related occupational stereotypes that older workers have:

  • poorer cognitive function
  • lower ability / performance
  • greater resistance to change
  • greater resistance to training
  • more sickness absence

A review of nearly 1000 studies was published by NG & Feldman in 2010 and almost no evidence to support these age related myths was found. In fact no relationship was identified between older workers and elevated levels of work related injuries, counter productive work behaviors or general tardiness.

A positive association was however found between employee age and compliance with health & safety rules and organisational citizenship. Meanwhile, task performance and levels of creativity were found to be no less than that of young employees.

A marginally higher level of sickness absence is associated to older workers, however this should be taken in perspective of them also being more likely to have chronic health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, arthritis and diabetes.

Redressing these age related stereotypes is important. They have been cited as major sources of ‘counteractive HR policies and managerial decisions in respect of older employees’. Perpetuation of these myths which are unsubstantiated presents employers with inefficient use of their resources at best and potential age discrimination at worst.

James Rind MSc is a Workplace Health & Wellbeing Consultant who has over 15 years of experience as a Musculoskeletal and Occupational Physiotherapist.

He supports companies and organisations in understanding and improving the work related Health & Wellbeing of their staff, through measurement, analysis and interventions that have a strong evidence base.

To discuss older workers, any other aspect of organisational health and wellbeing or to sign up to James’ newsletters complete this form.