Research from AIG Life Limited shows nearly one in 10 (9 per cent) of over-50s did not admit to turning 50 at work for fear that colleagues would regard them as old. AIG Life’s study of more than 3,000 working adults suggests there is still an unconscious bias of ageism among individuals in the workplace, with over-50s and younger workers equally worried about the implications.
The nationwide study, which is part of AIG Life’s research into the issue of longevity and its societal impact, found more than two out of five (44 per cent) of over-50s believe their age will count against them for promotions and pay rises.
The under-40s also have concerns – around 40 per cent of them believe older colleagues block their career progression and pay rises while more than half (55 per cent) worry that their own careers will stall once they celebrate (or otherwise) their own 50th birthday.
There is good news however – more than two out of three (67 per cent) of businesses surveyed said they are adapting to the impact of an ageing workforce and nearly one in five (17 per cent) have expanded employee benefits to cater for older workers. AIG Life, which offers group life, critical illness insurance and income protection, believes insurers and employers need to adapt and seek expert advice.
Government data shows the ageing workforce is a reality as there are a record 10 million people aged over 50 in the workforce and 72.7 per cent aged of people aged between 50 and 64-year-olds are still working. The demographics of the UK population mean these numbers will only increase. Analysis of Government data also found, however, that those aged 50 to 64 are more likely to face long periods of unemployment – they are 33 per cent more likely to be out of work for two years or more than under-50s.
“It is rather sad that so many over-50s worry about their age and its implications for the workplace because the reality is that employment among the over-50s is at a record high,” commented Lee Lovett, managing director for Group Protection at AIG Life. “Our earlier research found some people want to work into their 70s and can bring a huge amount of knowledge and experience.
“Society needs to see every generation of worker as an integral asset yet there’s clearly still some level of ageism across employees of all ages as the shy over-50s are not alone in their feelings,” he said. “Younger workers are also worried about older colleagues blocking their careers while also worrying about what effect turning 50 will have on their careers in turn.
“It would be interesting to understand where this employee ageism is derived because businesses accept that workforces are ageing and need to be supported – they are adapting and recognising that there are benefits to an older workforce.
“Group benefits that help them manage their financial and physical health and wellbeing can play a major role in helping companies to support employees and retain and recruit staff,” concludes Lovett. “With this in mind, AIG and other providers have flexible propositions that support and protect older workers up to age 70 and beyond and it is encouraging to see employers beginning to change what they offer.”