What makes for fulfilling work in later life?

February 9, 2017

The Centre for Ageing Better have announced the publication of a new report, Fulfilling work: what do older workers value about work and why? The report identifies what people aged 50 and over value about work and explores actions employers can take to attract and retain them. 

By 2020, one in three workers will be over 50. While employment rates for this age group have been growing, there still remains a rapid falling off after the age of 55. Increasing the numbers of people over 50 who are in fulfilling work is good for society, good for business and most importantly good for people themselves.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, older workers value many of the same things as workers of other ages – such as making a meaningful contribution, social interaction and opportunities for learning and progression. Older workers are more likely to stay in work if they think their work matters, their employer supports them and their needs are taken seriously. However, for a variety of reasons, including age discrimination, this doesn’t always happen. 

Patrick Thomson, Senior Programme Manager at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: 

“Older workers want fulfilling work that is personally meaningful, flexible, and that provides social interaction including across generations. They expect to be treated equally and fairly as any other worker, with flexibility, opportunities for development, and access to lifelong learning. 
“People over the age of 50 are more likely to have caring responsibilities and health conditions. Older workers who have access to support find it easier to balance working and caring, are more loyal to their employer and are more likely to remain in work. Employers need to support carers and people with health conditions, and provide workplace adaptations for those who need extra support.”  

Understanding what older workers want is the first step in helping employers create age-friendly workplaces. The report recommends that employers should provide full and equal access to flexible working arrangements, occupational health support and appropriate workplace adaptations to help older workers to manage health conditions at work. 

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