Video: Age No Bar – John Cridland CBE on how to get the best out of an age-diverse workforce


In the video above, I am discussing the issue of embracing an age-diverse workforce.

In 1917 King George V sent the first telegrams to those celebrating their 100th birthday. Twenty-four telegrams were sent that year. In 2017 around six-thousand people will have received a card from the Queen. In 2050, fifty-six-thousand people are expected to reach this milestone.

This example demonstrates the striking increase in life expectancy which many in this country are living through. This has major implications for our working lives. Only a few years ago early retirement was in vogue for those fortunate enough to be able to enjoy it. Today on average, we can expect to spend a third of our adult life in retirement, a record high. But in the years to come those of us who can, are going to need to work longer. The state pension age will have risen to 68 for both women and men by 2039 and nearly a million and half people already work beyond the retirement age, whether by choice, necessity, or both.

Longer working lives will be important for many to build up savings, will be wanted by some as a lifestyle choice, and will be necessary for our country to balance the books between taxpayers and pensioners. This is a big challenge. Three changes will be needed to be implemented, if we are to successfully face this challenge .Employers will need to change their attitudes to older workers. Job roles will need to be redesigned to better match the contribution of such workers. In addition, more flexibility will be vital for those with caring responsibilities and health issues.

Many of those working routinely in their late 60s will want and need different styles of working. Perhaps part time, with more of an emphasis on what they know from a lifetime of experience, and on passing that back to younger workers by acting as mentors and trainers rather than always being in the ‘ front line ‘ in, say, a classroom, a hospital or a factory. Many of us in our 60s will be looking after our parents in their 90s. Family eldercare will grow and is just as important a contribution to society as paid work. Employers will need to be as flexible to workers’ elder caring responsibilities, as they have become to those of young parents. Finally, we need to meet the needs of those with health requirements in later life, which may restrict their ability to work longer or in a conventional 9-5 pattern. .

Both employers and employees will need help to navigate their way through these changes, and I am pleased to see the Women’s Business Council rising to this challenge. The Council’s Staying On initiative is to be commended and I look forward to working in partnership with the Council to help make future challenges a positive reality.

John Cridland CBE, is the current Chair of Transport for North. He was Director General of the CBI from 2011 to 2015. He headed the Government’s review of state pension age, which reported in 2017.

Find out more about Staying On – The Age of Success toolkit here