The majority of small and medium-sized businesses in the UK support the end of the UK’s compulsory retirement age. More than three quarters (77%) think employees should be judged on merit, not on age, according to a survey from Orange.
The compulsory retirement age is due to be abolished on 6 April and the move has won favour with business-owners who are keen to lock in key skills and find a way to help essential staff work as long as they want to.
With the UK economy more dependent than ever on skills and specialist knowledge, Orange’s survey revealed clear business benefits to retaining staff after 65 who want to keep working. More than half (54%) of the 2,017 small and medium-sized business (SMB) owners questioned believe more experienced employees can help younger staff develop in their own roles.
However, in order to make working past 65 a more attractive option for skilled and experienced staff, business-owners must look to new working practises, such as enabling staff to work from home, or more flexibly. Encouragingly, of those surveyed, 84% of business owners said they would be willing to offer greater flexible working options to their employees who are over 65, in order to keep them in the business for longer.
Martin Lyne, SME Director at Orange, said: “With large sections of the UK economy now built on knowledge rather than manual labour or manufacturing, experience is one of the most valuable resources many businesses have. Understandably, many businesses don’t want to lose their most knowledgeable workers. Flexible working can offer the perfect solution for both parties, providing a work-life balance that suits those staff who may be tempted by the thought of winding down a little.
“The growing use of mobile technology means employers can find the best of both worlds by allowing staff to take a step back from their daily commute, while still contributing knowledge and leadership skills. With small and medium-sized businesses making up 98% of our national economy, it is vital that they can employ the best people for the job, irrespective of how old they are.”
The survey found many business owners are already looking to technologies such as iPads and smartphones as a way to enable older staff to work fewer days in the office.