Life expectancy is increasing, and by 2040 this is projected to rise to the age of 85.
That’s great news for me personally as I am now in my 50’s, but as an HR professional I’m also thinking about what these projections mean in the workplace – and what I should be focussing on for the future to benefit employees and to drive business performance.
The ageing population means that there are more midlife workers than ever before.
The employment rate for 50- to 64-year-olds in the UK has risen from 56% 30-years ago to 73% today – and it’s still rising.
We know that knowledge, skills, and experience are at their peak in midlife. And for employers to optimise these, they need to better understand and answer the needs of midlife workers.
Working Carers. Working age people will soon have more adult dependants than child dependants, with 1 in 6 of the workforce currently balancing their ‘day job’ with adult care responsibilities.
The pressures created by this balancing act can be enormous, with many being forced to take a career break.
Midlife workers the most likely to fall into this category, and the pandemic has had a massive impact on them with 81% saying caring responsibilities have grown due to Covid-19 and 74% feeling exhausted because of the increased stress.
Menopause and andropause are a biological fact of life and many organisations are starting to implement policies and workplace principles to support their employees through these changes.
More remains needs to be done, however, to educate managers and those without experience of midlife issues.
Career opportunities. Perversely, career and personal development opportunities for midlife workers slow down at precisely the moment they have the most to offer.
Some organisations offer a ‘returnship’ programs for individuals who have had to take a midlife career break, but these are currently very inconsistent with varied success.
There is also disparity in gender pay – especially if a person has been out of the workplace for some time and then returning.
As a proud midlife HR practitioner my aim is to shine a light for employers on the issues people face at midlife and to provide education, policies, training, seminars, and guidelines to ensure organizations can maximise the performance of an age diverse workforce.
I’m also very privileged to work with companies who are developing products to support businesses with these issues and, in doing so, help us all to live our best life, for the rest of our life.