Article by Ceri Wheeldon
Interesting to read the ILC’s Extend report today, looking at the implications of policy and pension reforms on an ageing workforce.
The findings of the research demonstrated a need for to encourage working in later life, this is beyond the changes in state pension age. It states measures are needed to address health and wellbeing at work, to tackle age discrimination in the workplace and to support those juggling working and caring. Workplaces should be encouraged and supported so health promotion should be a priority. Job and retirement flexibility should also be incorporated. These are all issues we considered when developing the Midlife MOT programme.
In the UK there is a strategy and target to increase the number of workers aged 50-69 by 12% by 2022.
The ILC’s Extend Report looked specifically at the health and care sector (HCS), EXTEND found little evidence of comprehensive approaches being taken to address long-term sickness and labour market exit among employees. The sector appears under-prepared for an ageing workforce, despite recognising finding skilled workers as a key challenge.
The report highlighted a need for more awareness for a shift from encouraging early exit (centred on a just redistribution of income and jobs, based on chronological age) to signalling that older people should work longer for a number of reasons, including that they are needed in tight labour markets, that (early) retirement is expensive for society, and that working enhances quality of life as people age.
Individual changes need to be encouraged : Work orientation – e.g. people’s motivations in and commitment to work – has strengthened, while health and education have improved.
An improvement in working conditions and the promotion of lifelong learning opportunities are essential to increase the number of older workers staying in employment.
The report looked at the influence of health on extending working lives There is a complex relationship between retirement and health. For some people, quitting work may have a detrimental effect on health, bringing loss of social networks, reduced incentives to stay healthy, and a decrease in mental and physical activity. For others, retirement may provide relief from mentally and physically draining work.
Life Course Management
Life course management: A trial led by the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health As part of EXTEND, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health tested a life course management programme designed to equip employees to deal with the particular problems they face as they become older workers. Working environments are prone to reflect stereotypical perceptions of older workers as resistant to change and less able to learn, and perceptions of age discrimination have been found to affect disengagement from work and attitudes to retirement. The Finnish programme was employee-centred and was designed to encourage workers to find their own ways of countering the pressures they faced and enhance intrinsic motivation to remain at work. It was tested in a randomised controlled trial in 17 Finnish organisations.
This raised awareness of the needs of older workers; campaigned against negative stereotypes of ageing; demonstrated the value of life course approaches; showed the value of local and bottom-up approaches to supporting older workers; and demonstrated the merit of individual support for workers who have the greatest need.
The Intervention: The programme consisted of four four-hour sessions (16 hours in total) in which a trainer supported between 10 and 15 voluntary participants aged 55+ to discuss the late-career setbacks they faced and how to manage their working lives. The groups identified goals and potential solutions then tested them out, practising in small groups. Peer support and feedback were seen as crucial elements in the work. Conclusions: The results showed that when workers can actively manage their own late careers, there are long-term beneficial effects on motivation and work engagement. The programme was found to diminish concern about age discrimination and give workers a longer perspective on their careers. It proved particularly effective for employees with lower educational attainment and those with a younger supervisor. Employees reported higher levels of wellbeing and motivations and felt they were making better career decisions. The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health concludes that there are benefits for employers from the scheme in the early prevention of work disability and enhanced motivation and competence at work. And for society, this relatively simple intervention promises better careers and less disability due to mental ill-health.
This report supports the very essence of why we have put together the Midlife MOT programme. Recognising the need for both individuals to understand better their current situation and plan for the future with confidence and for businesses to better support their employees, be seen to invest in their wellbeing, and help to maximise the potential of older employees.
The Midlife MOT provides nine modules covering key aspects and issues of midlife, including career, finance, mindset, health and nutrition, relationships, family and social. Individuals can work through an online programme at their own pace. We can also deliver workshops to corporates, either stand alone or in combination with the online programme. The Midlife MOT provides individuals with not only a review of where they are today, but also a roadmap for the future.
The success of the Life Course Management trial in Finland further supports the benefits programmes such as the Midlife Mot can deliver to both individuals and corporates.
We welcome the findings of EXTEND – are you ready for your Midlife MOT?