The ageing workforce - a resource for managers

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This resource will enable managers to find information on the challenges and opportunities an ageing workforce might present. It follows on from the Working Longer Group (WLG) age awareness toolkit.

The WLG recognises the need to support managers in developing positive age management approaches, to support workers of all ages, and believes that this will have a significant positive impact on employment relations and service delivery.

A report from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS), Managing older workers 2016, identified that managers’ insecurity and lack of confidence with regards to older workers may be due to fear of difficult conversations and what is perceived as a legal minefield.

Caring for an ageing society while supporting an ageing workforce is one of the greatest, but perhaps the least understood, challenges facing the NHS, employers and staff. It is especially relevant for organisations facing recruitment challenges, as better strategies to retain and effectively deploy older workers can be overlooked in preference of other measures.


The introduction of the 2015 NHS Pension Scheme saw the normal pension age, which is the age at which a member can claim their full benefits, set equal to state pension age. This means for most current NHS staff they will only be able to access their full NHS Pension benefits after the age of 65.

The WLG was established to address the impact of working longer in the NHS as a result of this change by the Public Service Pensions Act 2013. Since its establishment it has addressed a number of key areas of concern that were initially identified in its preliminary report to support NHS organisations address the challenges that managing an ageing workforce might bring.

Please note: The NHS Staff Council has agreed the NHS Working Longer Group has fulfilled its purpose and has therefore formally ended the role of the group. The resources produced by the group will remain available for organisations to use. The NHS Staff Council and its sub groups will take forward any future work.


Managing an ageing workforce - the key issues

As the workforce ages, organisations will need good age management practices to meet the needs of all staff. This section will help managers think about what they will need to do to meet the needs of staff.

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Supporting your staff

Supporting an ageing workforce to work longer can require changes to the working environment and job design to enable everyone to work safely and as effectively and productively as possible. This section looks at things managers will need to consider.


Health and wellbeing issues

With an ageing workforce it is vital organisations have good occupational health and safety provision in place, and that appropriate action is taken to support the wellbeing of staff. This section includes key points to consider, actions to take forward and links to useful information.

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Flexible working

Flexible working can include (but is not limited to) job content, variety of work, location, start and finish times. This section explores how flexible working can help an ageing workforce work for longer.


Recruitment and retention

Supporting the changing health and wellbeing needs of older workers will go a long way to helping to ensure their retention. This section offers advice and points to consider about what employers can do to improve retention.

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Retirement planning

Good age management now includes ensuring that there is a safe and dignified transition into retirement. This section is intended to equip managers with the tools they will need to help staff plan for retirement.

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