Flexibility for older workers could help with skills shortage, firm says

Figures suggest 58% of those aged 55 and over already work on a flexible basis and a further 19% would like to.

Flexibility for older workers in Scotland could help with skills shortage, business says PA Media

Scottish employers struggling to hire skilled workers should consider offering greater flexible working to older workers, a social business has recommended.

Flexibility Works, which is part-funded by the Scottish Government, has released new figures suggesting that while 58% of Scottish workers aged 55 and over already work on a flexible basis, a further 19% would like to.

According to its figures, one in four older workers would like more flexible start and finish times, while nearly one in five would like to work their usual weekly hours but in fewer, longer days, and to work more regularly from home.

Lisa Gallagher, co-founder and director of Flexibility Works, said: “Much has been said about older workers reducing their hours for so-called ‘part-tirement’ and this can be a great option. But it’s not the only option.

“Our figures show that many more older workers would like a bit more flexibility over their start and finish times, or to compress their usual hours, or work from home a bit more.

“These could be far easier for employers to implement, and mean they benefit from hiring and retaining more experienced and knowledgeable staff.”

Across the UK, there are 3.5 million over-50s of pre-retirement age who are not part of the workforce, an increase of 320,000 since before the pandemic, according to research from Age UK published in February.

Mike Douglas, director of social enterprises at Age Scotland, said: “Older workers contribute a huge amount to the economy and to employers in terms of experience, life skills and knowledge that can be shared with younger colleagues.

“But many older workers would prefer to work flexibly, perhaps because they have competing demands on their time, and if employers don’t offer flexible working, they risk losing some of their most valuable and irreplaceable staff.”

Alana Forsyth, chief executive of Glasgow North West Citizens Advice Bureau, vouched for the benefit of offering older employees shorter working weeks to retain their skills and experience.

She said: “Experience is of crucial importance to our service. It takes years to be a really knowledgeable adviser as legislation is complex and ever-changing.

“We commit significant resources to training and we want to retain our excellent people as long as we possibly can.

“We know – because our team tell us – that our four-day working week and flexible working offering is a strong factor in them staying with us.”

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