DOD’s blog: Old is the new young

Debi O'Donovan, editor, Employee Benefifts

How many of you have sat in a meeting where some bright young thing (usually from marketing, in my experience) produces a printout of some vital spreadsheet on which the letters and numbers are so small only an ant could read them?

“Not just ants”, they cry, “we can see six point text perfectly. We had to shrink it to get it all onto one page” (is the oft-repeated excuse).

The ‘more experienced’ (as we like to call ourselves) staff groan quietly to ourselves, hold the spreadsheet out as far as our arms allow and screw up our eyes as we strain to read the return on revenue, cost per unit and so on.

One day, as the proportion of ‘more experienced’ staff grow and get even  ‘greater experience’, the idea of older staff putting up with small print, and other age-related afflictions in the workplace should change.

According to the Office of National Statistics figures in the next 10 years there will be 700,000 fewer people aged 16-49 but 3.7 million more people aged between 50 and state pension age – a fundamental shift in the age distribution of the UK workforce.

Steve Lowe, director at retirement income specialist, Just Retirement, points out that “it took more than 10 years for the number of people working past the age of 65 to double from five hundred thousand to a million. At the current rate it will only take six more years for that figure to reach two million.”

The government is taking action. Today it publishes Fuller Working Lives – A Framework For Action in order to boost support for older workers and help employers challenge outdated perceptions to see the real strengths of the older section of the workforce.

The workplace should look very different by the time I retire in a couple of decades or so. Let’s hope we will all be looking at handheld screens by then, and not paper so I can blow up documents to as big as I need them.

Debi O’Donovan


Employee Benefits 

Twitter: @DebiODonovan