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What does an ageing workforce mean for you?

What does an ageing workforce mean for you?

In this article you’ll learn

  • Advice for retaining an ageing workforce
  • Tips for training new and ageing staff
  • Ideas for recruiting an ageing workforce

An ageing workforce means that a staggering 27% of employees in York, North Yorkshire and East Riding will reach retirement age by 2022, so you might want to think about how your business will be affected now. Investment in recruiting, retraining, and retaining staff can help you make sure your business will stay productive in the future.

In 2015, 65% of business owners who were asked about the value of older workers highlighted the reliability of a more mature workforce with over half valuing the role older workers play as mentors. But what can you do to increase your staff retention to benefit from an ageing workforce?

Retaining staff

One of the easiest ways to ensure that your business is ready to face increasing retirement levels is to make your workplace so good that employees want to stay on after they reach retirement age.

woman from an ageing workforce sitting in her office reading medical documents

Offering flexible working for all staff could provide a solution. Traditionally, flexible working is seen to be beneficial to younger workers in terms of childcare and parenting responsibilities. More flexible ways of working could be equally beneficial for older workers who may be encountering age related health problems and caring for ageing parents, grandchildren or joining the growing number of ‘sandwich carers’ who have caring responsibilities for both parents and dependent children.

Starting conversations early with employees about their retirement plans and changing life-work aspirations will help you to retain ageing workers for as long as possible. Regular conversations with employees about what they want from their current and future working lives are crucial because changes to life expectancy, and pensions are changing how people plan their lives.

But starting the conversation around age can be one that goes right to the heart of an organisation’s diversity and talent strategies. Conversations about your recruitment, retention and retirement culture now can lead to a happier and more robust workforce for the future.

Find out more about retaining staff by improving your workplace here and get tips for making your staff feel valued here.


Older workers tend to remain in one job for much longer than their younger counterparts, so investment in training is well worthwhile. Not only will they have the right skills to help your business succeed, training also shows your employees that you value them, increasing their loyalty to you and your business.

Male member of an ageing workforce showing a younger employee how to track records in a warehouse

There’s lots of support on offer to help you continuously develop the skills of your employees. There are fully funded skills training programmes, like Skills Support for the Workforce and Higher Skills, that offer training specifically tailored to your business needs, which you can learn more about here.

You might also consider using an apprenticeship scheme to develop your staff. Apprenticeships aren’t just for young people entering the workforce for the first time, they can be used to train any member of staff. Last year, 11.3% of people undertaking an apprenticeship were aged between 45 and 59. Although they can take some time to complete, 77% of apprentices remain with the business who trained them after their apprenticeship ends. With apprenticeship training, you can significantly increase the likelihood of retaining both older and new members of staff in your business. Why not download our free guide to find out more about the benefits of apprenticeships?

Call to action to download a free guide to apprenticehips 


There are lots of benefits to recruiting older employees. They bring a wealth of life and work experience as well as a healthy set of transferable skills often built up over many years in different industries and job roles. An ageing workforce will also have built up a large network of useful connections over their previous employment that your business will benefit from.

Older workers report an unconscious bias against them in recruitment processes despite legislation to the contrary. Take a look at your recruitment criteria and make sure it doesn’t accidentally rule out an older applicant. You should:

  • Focus on the skills and experience needed for the job
  • Don’t specify qualifications if they aren’t essential to the role, as it can rule out older applicants who have the required skills and experience without the formal qualification
  • Avoid language that could suggest age bias like ‘mature’ or ‘young and energetic’
  • Only ask for a birth date in the equality monitoring section, rather than in the main application
  • Try not to specify an age group in the application, unless it is a legislated occupational requirement

There’s a great guide to employing older workers that you might want to check out, as well as the How’s Business tips for hiring new staff.


Working to keep an ageing workforce can be great for your business. Not only will they bring a wealth of experience and connections to your business, they're also much more loyal to your business than their younger counterparts.