By James Malia, managing director of P&MM Employee Benefits

The ‘ageing workforce’ and its implications for employers is often in the news, but it’s slightly short-sighted to think of this age group of the workforce as ‘old-aged’ or people just looking forward to retirement. The reality is that with general health and life expectancy continually improving, this age group see themselves as ‘middle-aged’ with more people than ever looking ahead to living healthy and fulfilling lives.

Another reality linked to this workforce is that they are unlikely to be seeking other employment, so typical ‘staff retention’ benefits will have little impact. The salary and pension will be vital to this age group, however, it won’t affect their attitude or their commitment – unless of course there are moves to take away some of this benefit, in which case it will likely have a big impact and would likely create a challenge.

Of course, traditional salary sacrifice schemes such as childcare vouchers will clearly lack relevance and appeal. Yet, it is important not to overlook other salary sacrifice schemes and assume they won’t appeal by making generalisations. For example, cycle-to-work or mobile phones may be top of the agenda for some of the fitter or ‘on-the-pulse’ of this age group – and in fact they will be more inclined to take out a lease agreement for 12 - 24 months because they know they are unlikely to be leaving their current employer. With a larger number of older workers leading more active lives, cycle-to-work schemes may be the perfect way to encourage them to incorporate an increased level of activity into their daily lives.

Of the current salary sacrifice schemes available, probably the most popular for this age group would be the holiday purchase scheme, which allows employees to purchase additional annual leave via salary sacrifice. The opportunity to spend more time with family and friends or more time travelling will hold huge appeal for a cross-section of this particular workforce age group. In fact, this can also prove a ‘win win’ as the employer can reduce salary and National Insurance (NI) costs substantially by offering this benefit.

It could be the case that this age group typically has more disposable income due to factors such as not having children at home and the mortgage now paid, therefore offering a ‘lifestyle’ related discount scheme can prove popular. It may help to drive employee satisfaction and also help to improve their work-life balance. Those employees who do not have a high disposable income will find benefits such as discounts on travel, shopping, leisure activities, gym memberships and so on help to stretch their income to the maximum and appreciate being able to develop a more fulfilling overall lifestyle.

In terms of communication of the benefits available, it is imperative to keep tone and imagery consistent with other company communication – why should this age group be differentiated? After all, the reason that the pension eligibility is changing is a reflection of the improving health, fitness and overall wellbeing of this age group.

Although some older workers may not be as adept with computers and technology compared with those who have only recently started working, there is certainly a shift taking place with the older generation becoming more tech savvy. However, it is important to consider that their skills may not be as advanced as workers from other age groups, and they may respond better to digital communication integrated with face to face communication.

It is vital not to overlook or underestimate the power and experience of these workers. With years of knowledge accumulated, they can be hugely valuable to a business and offer important contributions to help a company’s success. These employees are increasingly likely to show loyalty to their employer and should be rewarded with the appropriate pay and benefits.

James Malia is managing director of P&MM’s employee benefits division. P&MM is an award winning marketing services agency that specialises in performance improvement through events and communications, motivation, employee benefits and sales promotions.