Our workforce is ageing - what should we do?

SAVE ITEM
Dawn

13 / 10 / 2015 11am

Dawn Preece is deputy head of human resources at York Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. Dawn tells us what her organisation is doing to meet the opportunities and challenges of an ageing workforce.

The ageing workforce is an area that most HR professionals are acutely aware of but need to start thinking more about. Our trust is currently depending on the skills of a workforce which is nearing retirement age. 

The big question for us was how do we support our ageing workforce?  

As a trust we are already highly committed to improving the health and wellbeing of our staff, which is demonstrated in our staff health and wellbeing strategy, but we needed to develop a clear action plan for our older workers. 

Being part of the NHS Working Longer Group (WLG) presented a great opportunity on two fronts, the first to help with our own strategy, and the second to be involved nationally in taking forward this key priority. 

As a member of the WLG it became apparent that, as a trust, we had to start deciding what actions were needed within our organisation. 

The key priorities we identified as a trust were:

  1. To understand what interventions are needed at an early stage to ensure our workforce, as it ages, is fit and healthy for work and retirement
  2. To understand what interventions are needed for older workers to enable them to stay in work
  3. To understand what we need to do to ensure we have a workforce plan in place to deliver future health services.
We agreed that the best way forward was to set up a working group with key stakeholders. We felt that it was beneficial to use the WLG’s recommendations and for this to be the focus for, and inform the groups action plan. 

We then identified our key stakeholders, and invited them to join the group. The group includes representatives from occupational health, HR, medical, staff side, workforce planning, directorate management, pensions, organisational development, IT, nursing and community. We had a great response, everyone wanted to be part of the group and acknowledged the importance of this area of work. We even had other people asking to be involved.   

The work we have done to date has enabled us to highlight to our board the key issues we have around the ageing workforce, including work areas and staff groups of particular concern.   

The work of the group is still in its early stages, but some specific outcomes to date have been developing a draft data template for directorates showing an analysis of their workforce age profile. Next steps for the template is to test it in two work areas to make sure it helps them to make informed workforce planning decisions.

Other work the group has done is to support staff to plan and make informed decisions around their pension, retirement and career. This has been done by developing clear guidance for managers and staff on flexible retirement options and running pension and financial awareness sessions for staff. 

I will keep you updated on the work of the group. Until next time!

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