Kent businesses urged to manage ageing workforces effectively
Seminar hears that retaining older workers is vital part of combating skills shortages.
With businesses in Kent still experiencing skills shortages, ensuring roles are attractive to older workers as a means of retaining key staff is an important aspect of managing the workforce. That was one of the key messages to Kent business leaders from lawyers at Brachers and its HR consultancy, KentHR, at a Kent Invicta Chamber of Commerce (KICC) health and wellbeing event recently.
With life expectancies for men and women increasing, more and more people are likely to need to work longer to fund their later years. The proportion of older workers is therefore only set to grow.
Catherine Daw, employment lawyer at Brachers, said:
“Retaining skilled older workers can have significant advantages for many organisations including in retaining skills and experience which might otherwise be lost. Most employers also want to have a balanced workforce that reflects their customer or client base. Losing older workers can add to the pressure posed by local skills shortages in the wider marketplace.”
Catherine Daw said:
“It was great to see that businesses in Kent are thinking positively about how to address skills shortages and this means looking to retain talent, taking active steps to ensure there are effective succession plans in place and that many are able to think about how working arrangements can be adjusted with a view to ensuring they get the very best from their employees at all stages of their careers.
Companies have an obligation to comply with age discrimination provisions particularly in light of the removal of the default retirement age. When it was first removed, commentators suggested that some employers were concerned about the possibility of having to undertake steps to address attendance or performance issues with older workers. Whilst in the main, this has not proved to be the case, as with any employee, care will need to be taken when undertaking formal processes to ensure they are fair and reasonable decisions are made. In the case of performance issues, employers are likely to need to consider training or other support to help individuals achieve required standards and in absence cases, the needs of the employee have to be balanced against those of the employer.
Other important factors to consider are mental health and wellbeing strategies - that need to be considered for employees of all ages across the workforce - and succession planning for senior management members.
Veronica Fox of HR Kent, Brachers’ related HR consultancy, said:
“Wellbeing strategies can help increase productivity across a workforce so it’s a key part of any HR strategy that they are considered – and that they include mental health which is a growing and recognised issue in our society.
“Meanwhile, just as workforces are ageing so leadership teams will be too! Companies in Kent are recognising that they need to act well in advance to think through how they will handle things when senior members retire – effective succession planning can take some years and it is rarely too early to plan for it.”
Read and download the event summary.