Three years after signing up to the Age Friendly Charter, the Isle of Wight Council has achieved recognition as an age-friendly employer.
As of May 2020, 42.5% of the council’s employees were above the age of 50, while a further 10 employees were over 70.
The Centre for Ageing Better introduced the age-friendly employer pledge, while Age UK Isle of Wight launched the Age Friendly Island (AFI) initiative, to make the island an increasingly positive and engaging place for older residents and employees.
The employer pledge requires employers to commit to taking one action per year to improve the recruitment, retention and development of older staff members. Businesses appoint a senior sponsor for age inclusion within their workforce, and ensure age is specifically tackled within diversity and inclusion policies.
The Centre for Ageing Better provides case studies, resources and examples to help employers improve their practices, as well as a learning network where they can share challenges and successes with other organisations.
The AFI project, meanwhile, works with organisations and residents of the Isle of Wight in order to deliver age-friendly projects, and to ensure businesses provide older employees with support for their health and wellbeing, as well as fostering their participation and inclusion in the workplace.
As part of the initiative, take part in training run by Age UK Isle of Wight, which covers how ageing impacts on daily life, equipping staff with the skills to communicate effectively and identify accessibility issues. According to the council, these training sessions were well attended across the organisation.
Some employers, including the island’s main bus operator Southern Vectis, opted to include this into its compulsory training processes, using an age simulation suit and glasses in order to help participants understand common physical challenges that might arise in later life.
In the three years since signing up to the AFI, the Isle of Wight Council ensured that its buildings and digital services were accessible, its front-line staff participated in the age-friendly training process, and that all employees were given access to flexible working practices to help older people engage and contribute in the workplace.
The council provides flexible working opportunities which include flexible hours arrangements, agile working, part-time work, career breaks and flexible retirement opportunities.
In terms of health and wellbeing, employees are able to access an employee assistance programme (EAP), a wellbeing portal and health hub, mental health first aiders and an occupational health service.
The Isle of Wight Council also works to boost employee engagement using annual and pulse staff surveys and employee and manager forums.
The AFI is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, and includes a steering group which drives the project, including organisations from the public, private and voluntary sectors, including The Alzheimer’s Society, NHS Trust, and the Isle of Wight Council.
The Centre for Ageing Better’s age-friendly pledged has been signed by more than 100 employers, covering approximately 200,000 employees.
Dr Emily Andrews, deputy director for work at the Centre for Ageing Better, said: “It is encouraging to see that hundreds of businesses are already showing this intent by registering their interest and signing up to our free nationwide programme.”