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Employers worried about aging workforce

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17/09/2012
UK companies are bracing themselves for the impact of aging workforce health issues on sickness absence rates.
Employers worried about aging workforce

Aviva’s annual Health of the Workplace report revealed that a quarter of employers are concerned over the concerned that an increase in the numbers of older employees will see sickness absence rates rise.

A similar proportion of employers were concerned that older employees would be absent with more serious conditions than their younger colleagues.

Nearly three-quarters of employers believe that health issues in the workplace will increase because older employees suffer from different medical complications to younger employees.

Dr Doug Wright, medical director for Aviva UK Health says: “Life expectancy has been increasing for some time now and we are clearly seeing more people working past the traditional retirement age to meet their financial commitments or to help keep themselves fit and active.

“With that, employers are undoubtedly going to see some employees with conditions that are more common in older people, such as certain forms of cancer and cardiovascular disorders.

Despite the possible impact on sickness absences, half of employers believe there are positive benefits for individuals working past the traditional retirement age.

Wright added: “It’s encouraging to see from our report that employers recognise the role they hold in helping to keep their employees healthy – and in particular the need to adapt the support and benefits they offer to suit the differing healthcare needs of an older workforce.”

A third of employers said they would need to offer different health advice as the workforce ages further.

One in five said they would need to offer different health benefits and over a quarter of employers said they would need training to help spot signs of serious illness, such as dementia.

Over a third of employers have also realised that they may need to introduce flexible working hours for older employees.

The report also reveals that employees’ requirements change with age and as a result, so do the benefits that they value.

Over a third of employees over 55 said that having access to benefits such as private medical insurance could help them stay healthy, compared to a fifth of 25-34 year-old employees.

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