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Rise in older workers will trigger employee benefits review

The study found 37% of employers are planning to review their employee benefits package to meet the needs of older workers while 17% have already done so. More than half (54%) of employers questioned are anticipating a rise in older staff as a proportion of their workforce.

Government figures confirm the trend – in the three months to April 2014 there were 1.128 million over-65s in the workforce which was 10.1% higher than in the same period of 2013. A report from independent pensions expert Dr Ros Altmann, CBE, sponsored by MetLife, has highlighted the important role employers play in helping people to continue working.

Research for the report “Flexibility in Retirement – Planning for change” found that over-60s currently make up 18% of the average workforce across all industries. Around 58% of employers say their workplace is suited to a rise in older workers while 28% admitted it was not.

Tom Gaynor, employee benefits director at MetLife UK, said, “Traditional retirement ages have become increasingly meaningless as we see three major factors at play:  first, the increase in the number of older workers comprising the workforce second, longer life expectancies and better health care and, third, continued downward pressure on interest rates meaning lower returns on investments and relatively smaller retirement funds.

“Even without the demographic and financial challenges, our recent research undertaken indicates that many people want to work in later life.  The social benefits and the sense of purpose work brings are significant factors and employers need to step up and respond.

“The changes in pension rules being introduced are significant and finally recognise that the old days of a 10 year retirement are no longer the norm.

“It is encouraging that a good proportion of employers are planning to review their employee benefit offerings to ensure they are suitable for older workers but the majority of employers still need to create a plan of action.  Providers also need to innovate to ensure that products are suitable for the changes and the challenges ahead.”

MetLife Employee Benefits launched its innovative ProActive Protection product at the start of 2014.  It assists employers with taking preventative steps to reduce absence due to illness from becoming a major issue. It assists employees that do become ill with a plan to return to work earlier than they would without the support of the ProActive Protection product. Employers are supported by a team of Client Relationship Managers and larger schemes have a dedicated Client Relationship Manager as well as a Claims Specialist who will proactively engage with employers to understand absences early on and to suggest any early intervention that may accelerate a sustainable return to work.

An additional benefit built into ProActive Protection is MetLife’s Wellbeing Hub.  It provides employees with a comprehensive and confidential health and wellness programme that includes counselling services and health advice. Employees can generate their own Health Age through the online service and use this as a starting point to make lifestyle changes that they can monitor. 

The MetLife Employee Benefits division has offices in Brighton, employing around 150 people. It is the UK hub for the sales and administration of its Employee Benefits and Individual Protection businesses.  

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