New figures show that Britain’s economy could be boosted by £80 billion a year if the country employed as many older workers as Sweden.
The UK ranked just 19th out of 34 OECD countries in PwC’s Golden Age Index, measuring how effectively countries harness the economic power of older workers, defined as those aged over 55. Iceland took the top spot, while Sweden came in fourth place.
PwC found that, if Britain’s employment rates of those aged between 55 and 64 matched those of Sweden, GDP could be boosted by around 4.2%, which equates to £80 billion at current values.
“As the number of people over 55 grows and life expectancy increases, the UK needs to make it as easy as possible for people to continue working for longer if they wish to,” said John Hawksworth, PwC’s chief economist. “This would boost GDP and tax revenues.”
Dr Jill Miller, diversity and inclusion adviser at the CIPD, encouraged employers to make the most of what older workers have to offer. “Many have a wealth of experience and are at the top of their game. Why wouldn’t we make the most of their talents and engage them to give their best at work?” she queried.
However, she warned that HR professionals “need to stop treating older workers as a homogenous group”. She added: “People work longer for different reasons, which will affect how managers motivate and engage their staff. (HRPs) need to be challenging age-related assumptions and educating managers about the benefits of age-diverse teams.”
Recently, a number of major companies, including Barclays, Aviva and The Co-operative Group, pledged to increase the number of older workers on their books by 12% by 2022.