Multinationals and large corporates are being urged to review their employee benefit schemes in order to accommodate the needs of older workers.
A white paper published by MAXIS Global Benefits Network – the international employee benefits joint venture between MetLife and AXA – argues that an ageing workforce is a “growing reality” for multinationals as people are living and working longer and falling birth rates mean fewer people are entering the global workforce.
The paper says that if businesses fail to adapt, encourage healthy ageing and cater for an older workforce, they will not only alienate an important and growing pool of skilled staff, they risk becoming “uncompetitive, hampered with avoidable costs and possibly exposed to additional medical claims”.
According to the paper, older workers “shouldn’t be seen as a disadvantage”.
It states: “Employers report that older staff members often have a stronger work ethic than their younger colleagues and advancing age is also associated with greater levels of experience, autonomy and efficiency.
“Generally, older workers report lower levels of work-related stress and less conflict with their co-workers.”
Older employees also experience lower rates of work-related injuries and illnesses, albeit with longer recovery times if an incident does occur, and staff turnover tends to be lower, the report states.
Dr Leena Johns, Head of Health and Wellness at MAXIS GBN, said an ageing workforce is “now a reality for every organisation”.
Dr Johns said: “While the focus for many employers has been on younger generations like millennials and Generation Z, many have been missing out on the opportunities presented by older employees by tapping into this pool of older employees, sometimes on more flexible terms, and managing a multi-generational workforce. As the world’s population continues to age and fewer young people enter the world of work, employers need to get ahead of this curve by seeing their older employee population as an opportunity instead of a burden.
“Although older employees bring experience and plenty of positives, employers need to keep in mind their unique requirements – from HR policies and employee benefits, to pensions and medical care. Getting old is the primary risk factor for many acute and chronic health conditions, which increase medical costs and demand interventions by health providers, employers and benefits partners. To meet this trend head on, businesses need proactive strategies that address wellness throughout an employee’s career, aiming to minimise sick leave, control medical costs and limit the impact of disability as they age.”