Tag: older workforce

Employers should increase their monitoring of pay, progression and training by age

According to research by the National Institute of Economic Research, women over 50 in Scotland require greater support in the workplace to address persistent inequalities in pay and progression. The research was conducted on behalf of Scotland’s Fair Work Convention.

Older workers now comprise around a third of the Scottish workforce, with the number set to increase in the coming years. However, existing data shows that women in this age group often experience greater inequalities in pay than younger women in relation to men. The report called for employers to take action to improve the experiences and opportunities for older women at work.

The research report covered women over 50 and employers in two specific sectors in Scotland: the finance/insurance sector; and the information/communications sector.

According to the research, women over 50 face a number of barriers to better pay and progression in the workplace. In particular, the report inferred that employers need to increase opportunities for flexible work for this age group, given that these women often have substantial caring responsibilities for their children, spouses, grandchildren and elderly parents. The report also explored women’s concerns in several areas, including:

  • Recruitment and promotion processes
  • Skill-gaps compared to younger workers
  • Menopause

The research found that while many women are concerned about age discrimination, employers often fail to consider age as an important aspect of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The report recommended that employers should increase their monitoring of pay, progression and training by age. It also suggested that employers would benefit from increased support and guidance in addressing age discrimination in the workplace.

Katharine Stockland, Senior Social Researcher at NIESR, commented: “In order to address these challenges around pay and progression experienced by this group of women, employers must reflect on their workplace practices and consider to what extent their training, support and promotion opportunities reflect the needs of this group of women. Especially in the context of labour shortages that have been driven partly by older workers dropping out of the labour market, employers should act now”.

Mary Alexander and Patricia Findlay, Co-Chairs at Fair Work Convention also made comment: “We know the challenges faced by women at work do not simply start when a woman turns 50. The impacts of workplace policies and practices that systematically disadvantage women build cumulatively over an individual’s career. What this research demonstrates is that the intersection of age and gender is uniquely shaping women’s experiences of work in ways that are leaving older women significantly worse off both in career progression and in pay.”

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Employers are warned against ignoring value of wisdom and experience

A recent article by Andrea London has highlighted concern that the new world of remote working is resulting in increasing polarisation of the labour market in the UK and an increase in the “generational skills gap” and whether older workers can keep up with technical advances.

She mentions that even if people over the age of 55 don’t have the “skills of the future”, they do have valuable wisdom, experience, skills, and attributes that took years to develop and should not be ignored. These benefits influence all in the workplace, and she warns that companies may not realise the value of an age-diverse workplace until it is too late.

The writer goes on to warn of the likelihood of an increasing number of unfair dismissal incidents, such as the recent Williams -v- Lyons Holiday Parks [2022] case, where Mrs. Williams, a 60-year-old worker, was dismissed because she wasn’t receiving enough “likes” on social media.

According to London, a possible leveller is “proximity bias” – where those we see more often are looked upon more favourably. For example, in a hybrid working model, those in the office, such as more mature staff members, may be more likely to be presented with tasks as opposed to those working remotely. Unfortunately, as businesses adapt, proximity bias may disappear, and the benefits of this may be short-lived.

In her article, Andrea London, partner at Winckworth Sherwood, wrote: “When Mark Zuckerberg in 2007 (in)famously said to a room full of budding entrepreneurs that “young people are just smarter” – he maybe did not realise the damage his narrative would cause – that youth has become synonymous with technological skill and to be “old” is to be technically illiterate. This is a misguided belief – but unfortunately, in our increasingly technological workplaces, this is an increasingly held viewpoint.”

“Despite the legal protections; ageism and its legal counterpart; age discrimination remains challenging for employers. What is really needed is a change in attitude and perception – such that age is part of any diversity and inclusion programs – but this will take time. Employers who are increasing their technology or operating any hybrid workplace model need to be aware that whilst in theory the future looks bright, they wouldn’t be there save for the past and should remember how they got there and whom in their workforce, assisted with that progress.”

The older workforce are an untapped talent resource as reported on in TALiNT International. At a time when employers are strapped for experienced professionals, employers should look to the over 55s to plug skills gaps in their businesses.

 

 

 

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