Sunday, January 16, 2011

Benefits Of An Ageing Workforce, UK

Ministers have confirmed that the default retirement age will be phased out this year. This will inevitably lead to employees working till in to their late sixties and seventies.

Experts shared three pieces of new research on the benefits of an ageing workforce at the Occupational Psychology annual conference onthe 13 January at the Stratford-upon-Avon Holiday Inn.

Older workers feel health benefits

Chartered Health Psychologist Dr Frances Reynolds investigated the impact that working till a later age could have on employees' health and safety.

For example, some age-related problems could potentially compromise safety and well-being at work such as difficulties in tasks requiring divided attention, slower information processing speeds and physical issues such as poor eyesight or reduced strength. This study explored the health and safety experiences of post-retirement age workers. 42 people (age 60-91) were interviewed.

Frances explained: 'These older workers were highly engaged, experienced group who perceived themselves as unencumbered by the frailties traditionally associated with ageing. Most described deriving physical and cognitive well-being from work; perceived few safety concerns; and believed that, by continuing working, they were maintaining their psychological and physical health.'

Older workers more stable and conscientious

Chartered Occupational Psychologist Mr James Bywater (SHL Limited) has completed research on the expectations, aspirations, work style and capabilities of ageing employees. His study examined the work based personality of the very oldest segments of the UK population (over 65) by using the results of 235,407 Occupational Personality Questionnaire (OPQ) questionnaires.

James explained: 'There is an assumption that older workers are not as valuable as younger workers, but based upon the evidence of this initial study there is no reason to discount this group as valuable human resources for the future. There is evidence that older workers are more conventional and have less desire to lead and to achieve career goals but this is parried by their conscientious, emotional stability and better social skills.'

Older workers have better customer service skills

Chartered Occupational Psychologist Dr Sheena Johnson (Manchester Business School) investigated how the changing age demographic of workers may have implications for health and well-being of employees in service organisations. Dr Johnson surveyed 273 customer service employees and managers working in a national retail organisation about customer related stress, dealing with conflict and their health (physical, mental and emotional).

Sheena explained: 'Older employees experienced fewer negative customer behaviours and were more diplomatic and better at keeping calm. Overall being older and more experienced meant they were better at dealing with customers varied needs.'

View the full conference programme online.

The British Psychological Society
Benefits Of An Ageing Workforce, UK
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