Health and Wellbeing · 19 October 2017

How employers can boost health and wellbeing support for older workers

Employers need to consider health and wellbeing support for older workers
Employers need to consider health and wellbeing support for older workers

Over five million British workers aged 50 and over are worried that health concerns will stop them from prolonging their careers, the latest health research from insurer Aviva has revealed.

Some 55 per cent of over-50s fear their work will become detrimental to their health as they grow older, or they might not be well enough to continue working. Health concerns are already an issue for 13 per cent of workers over 50-years old.

Aviva’s latest Real Retirement report also found that just 17 per cent of over-50s have access to health and wellbeing advice at work, with very few professionals having received any information about workplace initiatives that could prevent health issues and prolong their careers.

Almost half of older workers (48 per cent) expect to be working beyond the age of 65, whilst 23 per cent expect to work past 70-years old. Some 13 per cent of older workers expect they’ll never retire.

The research found that the average age people expect to retire in the UK in 2017 is 66, although 43 per cent of over-50s claim they don’t have enough savings to retire when they’d like, and 32 per cent say high living costs mean they can’t afford to stop working.

Despite the desire of many older workers to retire, some choose not to. Aviva revealed that 34 per cent of over-50s continue working because they value mental stimulation, whilst over a quarter value the social interaction that comes with being an employee.

Support for older generations of workers is becoming more and more vital. Aviva’s study found that after the age of 50, a “positive workplace culture” became the most important factor for workers, whilst the availability of part-time work or reduced working hours (47 per cent) and access to flexible working (29 per cent) were also highly valued factors.

However, it was found that not all older workers are able to negotiate flexible working arrangements, with only 11 per cent of over-50s having access to these types of support.

Commenting on the research, managing director of savings and retirement at Aviva, Lindsey Rix, said: “Although it’s hard to predict what the future might bring, having access to health and wellbeing support via the workplace can help minimise the impact health problems have on people’s ability to work.”

Five office exercise tips for a healthy day at work

(1) Take a break

Shockingly, only 30 per cent of UK workers take proper lunch breaks, even though it’s a legal right and has a multitude of benefits for both employee and employer. Set a reminder on your phone or computer, and just move around – we should all be taking a break every half hour or so.

 (2) Exercise

Use work as an opportunity to exercise. Take the stairs instead of the escalator, have a meeting or brainstorm while you walk, replace phone calls with face-to-face meetings, and if you have to use the phone, move while you talk.

Take advantage of your lunch break to do activities you wouldn’t normally have time for. Get outside and walk or run, join a yoga class or workout at the gym. It will help focus your mind and reenergise your body.

(3) “Deskercise”

If you’re very busy, work in a small office, or suffer from aches and pains, then try out some simple stretches at your desk. Yes, “deskercise” is now a thing, and it’s particularly useful for older workers to help prevent ageing and keep the body strong and supple.

(4) Stay hydrated

Drinking water regularly promotes cardiovascular health, helps muscle and joints work better, keeps skin supple, and cleanses the body inside and out. It also keeps your memory sharp, your mood stable and your motivation intact.

(5) Find your best seated position

Sitting at a computer all day with bad posture can seriously damage your body in the long-term. There are certain small changes you can make to ensure you are sitting correctly.  Adjust your chair so that knees are slightly lower than hips to support your back. Rest your feet flat on the floor and avoid crossing your legs to strengthen posture.

Keep your mouse as close as possible to your body to prevent repetitive strain injuries. Rest arms by your sides with elbows bent and forearms parallel to the floor. Place your screen at eye level about an arm’s length away to avoid eye and neck strain.

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Fred Heritage is deputy editor at Business Advice. He has a BA in politics and international relations from the University of Kent and an MA in international conflict from Kings College London. He previously worked as a reporter at Global Trade Review magazine.

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