Persuading employers: Challenges and opportunities around an ageing workforce

Jane Parry, Zoe Young

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Published conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

Legislative drive can be key in achieving critical mass around employers’ responses to addressing disadvantage in the labour market. This can be seen in the relative lag between legislation and good practice around age (covered in the 2010 Equality Act), compared to gender (1975 Sex Discrimination Act) and ethnicity (1965 Race Relations Act). Yet as current demographic change shifts the age profile of the workforce, employers who have been slow to address age bias in workforce practice will imminently find themselves under new pressure to engage with how they can retain older workers for longer in order to continue to meet the demands of their business.
Where age has been conceptualised as problematic by employers, this paper explores how resistant employers can be persuaded of the business case for age diversity and responding to the workforce challenges of the future. We engage with the currency of perspectives around intersectionality (McBride et al., 2015; Rodriguez et al., 2016) to incorporate age, as well as leading debate on issues other than workforce demographics to change employer attitudes around age. For example, dialogue around flexible work (Richman at al., 2008; Smeaton and Ray, 2014) or intergenerational teams (Boehm et al., 2013; Kunze et al., 2011) can focus on positive outcomes such as enhanced creativity and improved performance to reinforce mutual workforce-employer benefits. We draw upon the results of our recent mixed methods research on age-friendly workplaces (Smeaton and Parry, 2018 forthcoming) in responding to these issues.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWork, Employment and Society Conference
Subtitle of host publicationPutting Sociology to Work
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018

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    Parry, J., & Young, Z. (2018). Persuading employers: Challenges and opportunities around an ageing workforce. In Work, Employment and Society Conference: Putting Sociology to Work