Ageing workforce will impact health benefits

More than a third (38%) of respondents said that ageing workforce health issues will impact their organisation, according to research by Aviva.

Its annual Health of the workplace report, which surveyed 1,000 UK employers and 1,000 employees, also found that 29% of respondents said they are already seeing a rise in the average age of employees, while 37% said they expect to see their workforce get older in the future.

The report also found that employees’ requirements change with age and, as a result, so do the benefits that they value. More than a third (35%) of employee respondents over 55 said that having access to benefits, such as private medical insurance (PMI) could help them stay healthy, compared to 22% of 25-34 year-old employee respondents.

Among employer respondents, the research also found:

  • 24% said they are concerned that an increase in the number of older employees will see sickness absence rates rise.
  • 26% said they were concerned that older employees would be absent with more serious conditions than younger colleagues. 
  • 70% said that health issues in the workplace will increase because older employees suffer from different medical complications to younger employees.
  • 29% said they would need to offer different health advice, while 18% said they would need to offer different health benefits and 23% said they would need training to help spot signs of serious illness, such as dementia.
  • 36% said they may need to introduce flexible working hours for older employees.

Dr Doug Wright, medical director at Aviva UK Health, said: “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.

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“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.

“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.”