Recently I visited McDonalds in order to hear their views about our ageing workforce and the older workers within it.
The way we view retirement is changing. Millions of over 50s have reconsidered their options and now plan to retire later, according to a recent poll.
With an ageing population and people living longer, healthier lives, many people can benefit from working longer. This could be a significant boost to their income, as well as to the economy.
Businesses are starting to realise the potential of employing older workers too. McDonald’s is one such employer. It welcomes older workers and has done research to prove that having employees of mixed-ages on a team improves customer satisfaction at its stores.
I recently visited one of its restaurants, and met a number of older employees. In the UK, McDonald’s employs around a thousand people who are over sixty.
How McDonald’s has adapted
Some of these people wish to work flexibly but may only be able to work limited hours. For these people, flexible contracts allow them to juggle work with their other responsibilities, such as caring for family members at home. But the company benefits too.
What older workers bring to the workforce
The McDonald’s managers explained how older workers bring so much extra to the workforce. ‘They have a strong work ethic and are reliable, diligent employees.’
Apparently, the older staff members also help other workers too. One manager told me ‘when we have older people in the restaurant, they are often a mother or father figure to the youngsters. They have a quiet word with the younger ones about what to say to management, how to take pride in the job, the importance of being on time etc.’
Interestingly, many older staff who join McDonald’s have already retired, but decide they just want to come back and do some work – they are some of the most dedicated workers because they have chosen to work even though they could have stopped.
Syed is a great example of this. He is 79 and continues to work at McDonald’s. He told me that he gave up work when he reached the retirement age of 65, but decided to go back after three years off – and he still very much enjoys what he does.
Older workers benefit the economy
This is all very inspiring, and we need to dispel any myths that over 50s will soon be too old to work, because the traditional stereotypes of people of this age group no longer apply.
Enabling older workers to get into and stay in work can be essential for their finances later in life, but it also matters to our whole economy. This is an issue of national importance and will affect us all.