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Keeping Older Employees on the Job

Seeking to avert a brain drain, a city leads the way as an age-friendly employer

City Council Human Resources Policies And Initiatives Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire, England, United Kingdom



Employees hand-paint crockery in Stoke-on-Trent, central England, Feb. 14, 2017. Already world renowned as the birthplace of England's pottery industry, Stoke-on-Trent is rapidly earning a reputation as a hotbed of economic growth and innovative approaches to promoting the employment of older workers.

Already world renowned as the birthplace of England's pottery industry (Wedgwood, Spode and others), Stoke-on-Trent is rapidly earning a reputation as a hotbed of economic growth and innovative approaches to promoting the employment of older workers.

A 2013 workforce report for the Stoke-on-Trent City Council revealed a net loss of employees age 50 and older due to retirement. At the same time, Stoke-on-Trent was working to become an age-friendly city. The two things combined drove the council's efforts to better accommodate the needs of older workers.

The commitment has been exemplified by the Stoke-on-Trent City Council's frontline participation in the European Union-funded WorkAge project, which aims to address a potential brain drain of older workers in the U.K as people move toward retirement. As part of the project, a study at Nottingham Trent University is pursuing strategies to help employers re-engage with their older employees.

"These people hold vital, irreplaceable skills and knowledge," says Maria Karanika-Murray, a psychologist at Nottingham Trent who's part of the research team. "A lot of organizations don't understand that they can save money without losing skills and knowledge, and that the key to engaging and retaining older workers is about adjusting to their needs."

The Details

Stoke-on-Trent has been at the forefront of promoting age-friendly human resources policies and initiatives so older workers, and others, can get the support they need to be productive, healthy employees who contribute to the community.

As an employer, Stoke-on-Trent City Council guarantees a job interview to all applicants with a disability who meet the essential requirements for a position. The council also offers an array of benefits to enhance the well-being, engagement and work ability of older employees, including:

  • Flexible work arrangements to help employees maintain work-life balance, especially those who need to provide care for their spouses or parents.

  • Free 24/7 help (through the "Carers Emergency Scheme") if an employee who is a caregiver has a personal emergency and needs someone to step-in and assist his or her care recipient.

  • Workplace training about topics including fall prevention and dementia awareness.

  • Lifestyle education for employees with health conditions such as diabetes or heart disease.

  • A free 20-week physical fitness program and free access to the City Council's sport and leisure centers.

The Costs

The WorkAge project is funded by a €1.1 million grant (approximately $1.6 million U.S.) from the European Union's Program for Employment and Social Solidarity. The Stoke-on-Trent City Council is a government body funded through local taxes.

The Results

The Stoke-on-Trent City Council won an AARP Best Employers International Award in 2014.

"We value older staff — and the experience, knowledge and skills they bring — as an integral part of our workforce," said Councillor Abi Brown, the deputy leader of the council. "As part of our vision of being a great working city, we work hard to ensure that we are leading the way as an age-friendly employer."

Published August 2015

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