Three out of four employees intend to work beyond the age of 65, but a significant number are worried that their health may scupper these plans.
According to research from Canada Life Group Insurance, 41 per cent of those planning to work for longer think their health may make it difficult to do so.This equates to some 9.5m employees.
There is also the perception that their employer may view older workers negatively, due to potential health problems. More than a quarter (27 per cent) cited this as a concern.
Almost a third of employees believes that employers are more likely to view older workers as stuck in their ways (cited by 30 per cent of employees) and technologically inept (30 per cent).
These concerns are leading some older workers to leave their current employer. The survey showed around 14 per cent planning to switch jobs when working beyond the age of 65, a fifth say it is because their current job is either too physically demanding (22 per cent) or too stressful (20 per cent).
Despite these negative perceptions a significant proportion of employees recognise the tangible benefits that older workers bring to the workplace. Three out of 10 (28 per cent) UK workers believe that a mix of older and younger workers is desirable because it creates a wider range of skills and within the workforce.
Canada Life said it is clear that poor health can act as a barrier to employment and retention of older workers, despite the value and experience they can provide.
It pointed out that it costs an average of £30,000 to replace an employee, so it is in employers’ interests to look at way to help older workers stay in the workforce.
Canada Life Group Insurance’s research reveals that flexible working (32 per cent) and appropriate workplace benefits (16 per cent) are the best ways to attract and support older workers, and can help to resolve issues such as a stressful or excessive workload.
Employees planning to work beyond 65 indicate that income protection (17 per cent) and life insurance (16 per cent) would be the most highly valued benefits, while one in 10 value critical illness cover (13 per cent) or an Employee Assistance Programme (10 per cent).
Canada Life Group Insurance marketing director Paul Avis says: “Older workers are an invaluable component of the UK workforce.
“They also represent a valuable talent pool for employers as Britain struggles to counter a growing skills shortage. It’s an unfortunate fact of life that health concerns tend to become more frequent as we age, and will become more common in the workforce as we live and work for longer.
“Workers over the age of 65 therefore have a more immediate need for employee benefits that provide both financial and emotional support should they become ill or suffer an injury.
“Employers who want to keep and recruit these valuable workers should offer protection products that have the additional benefit of offering a wide range of support services – from early intervention to employee assistance programmes and second medical opinion services. All of these can be used without having to make a claim, adding daily value and proving employers’ commitment to their staff’s health.”