As people become more health-conscious and with better healthcare and medical advances, a higher life expectancy is a new reality, globally.
Companies need to understand what this means for them and come to accept and value of an older worker.
They need to rethink their HR policies and put in place systems and processes to leverage the strengths and potential of an older workforce.
Did you know that from an economic perspective, an older worker is a person with more than 15 years of experience, regardless of age?
According to a recent study conduced by the French Association “A Compétence Egale” (which fights against discrimination in companies) an employee is considered to be an older worker from the age of 49.6.
Despite this numbers, it is important to note that the definition can vary depending on the company, the sector, the country and the position of the Recruiter or Candidate –perhaps we can be more generous with an average of 52.7 years.
While France’s employment rate for the seniors has been steadily increasing, it remains low compared to other European countries, particularly in the over 60 age group.
For a European average of 60.5% at the beginning of 2023, the employment rates of older people vary from 43.8% in Romania to almost 77% in Sweden. France is in 16th place out of 27, with an employment rate for older workers of around 56%.
Broadly speaking, we can observe the culture of "regulation by the labour market" in Western countries, guided by the economic situation, the "culture of duty to work and to remain in employment", which is found particularly in Japan, or the "culture of the right to work at any age" in the Scandinavian countries and the Netherlands, whereas France seems to be more sensitive to a "culture of early exit".
In a particularly tight labour market, this is a major issue linked to demographic change, as people in their fifties represent the main pool of available labour. This raises the question of the respective roles of the different generations in our societies, their place in the production of wealth, the transmission of knowledge, as well as the new forms of solidarity that can unite them.
While the French government is working on new pension reforms, it’s relevant to understand how the situation is evolving, nationally.
In 2021, the rate was 5.8 points lower than the European Union, with a gap that widens to 12 points for the 60–64-year-old age group.
During the 1970s, employment policies encouraged the withdrawal of older people from the employment market in order to favour access to work for younger people. The retirement age was reduced from 65 to 60 years with early retirement schemes, this largely led to a reduction in the employment rate of older people.
The trend has been reversed 20 years later. As a result of the ageing of the population, the increase in life expectancy and therefore the growing cost of financing pensions, the authorities have had to adapt their policy and work to maintain the employment of older people. Many reforms have followed with the effect of increasing the employment rate of older people by more than 8 points in 10 years.
However, in the same period, the unemployment rate of this population has risen sharply, with temporary contracts. Several measures have been implemented, such as the Senior CDD, the employment skills pathway, the cumulative employment – retirement scheme and government subsidies.
In March 2023, a vote was taken to create a new type of contract, an "End-of-Career" contract to promote the recruitment of 60+ employees.
Five reasons why older workers are an asset to organizations:
Mature workers reduce turnover and absence costs. Research consistently indicates that older employees, with their loyalty and commitment, reduce turnover and absenteeism costs in their organisation.