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What could employers do to better support those aged over 50?

(225 Posts)
MumsnetJobsTeam (MNHQ) Thu 13-Feb-20 11:31:40

Many people - especially women - find it harder to find work once they hit 50, particularly if they've had a career break. Even within the workplace older people can face discrimination, whether being passed over for promotion, treated with condescension, or expected to have the same needs and requirements as someone younger.

We'd love to get your thoughts on how older people are treated in the world of work. Do you think there is discrimination? In what ways are older people harmed by policies and attitudes? And most importantly, what can employers do to better support those over 50?

Mumsnet Jobs is committed to campaigning for greater flexibility and equity in the world of work, and so on February 25th, we'll be putting your comments to a group of top employers who have gathered at MNHQ to learn how they can improve.

NormaSnorks Thu 13-Feb-20 11:43:58

I think easing older women back into the workplace is important as it can be quite a shock to the system to suddenly go back full-time, especially if they are having to contend with menopause symptoms: sleep problems, anxiety, aches and pains - 4 day weeks and home-working days can be helpful.
Changes in technology can be a shock too, and people need time and training to get back up to speed. When I went back into an office environment after a break I was astonished to find how much activity had moved onto company messaging platforms etc and how mcuh less email was used.

BeaStoic Thu 13-Feb-20 12:01:26

Why are woman of 50 and above classed as "older women"? It's bloody depressing to be "othered."

And we're doing ourselves no favours by making the menopause (which is a perfectly natural occurrence) the new Big Topic. Many women breeze through it, some need HRT, others manage with diet and exercise. I don't want my younger colleagues thinking "poor Bea is going through the Change, better tiptoe around her or she'll come over all peculiar".

All workers would benefit from flexible working - parents of young children, carers of disabled children, carers of elderly parents etc.

Likewise anyone returning to the workplace after an extended break would benefit from support from employers, not just women over 49.

starlight36 Thu 13-Feb-20 13:01:04

Make an effort to encourage all forms of colleague socialising. Many work environments organise boozy nights out which aren't quite so appealing to older workers.

NormaSnorks Thu 13-Feb-20 13:03:46

Have you been through the menopause personally BeaStoic? Perhaps you were one of the extremely lucky ones who didn't have too many symptoms?
For a huge number of women post-50 the menopause and all the related symptoms it can bring is a major factor in stopping women from getting back into the workplace in the first place. Certainly I couldn't have held down even a 9-5 job when I was only getting 2-3 hours sleep a night and was crippled by anxiety when travelling on public transport - both of which resolved themselves within a week of me starting HRT.
I think you'll find that most forward-looking companies are including menopause support for female employees as part of their healthcare packages in the same way stress and heart-health might be included already.

HangingOffYourCloud Thu 13-Feb-20 13:26:24

Support with the menopause would be a start. I went to a talk recently and the speaker said there are so many women she has counselled who have left work because of symptoms.

HangingOffYourCloud Thu 13-Feb-20 13:30:09

According to research from Nuffield Health, up to one in ten women consider quitting their jobs because the symptoms are so debilitating.

Pilot12 Thu 13-Feb-20 13:33:38

Change the attitude of younger workers, for example in an office where the young administrators go off to lunch together but don't invite the "old" ones because they assume they don't understand the things they talk about.

I say "old" because when I was a young administrator that's what we used to call anyone over 50. Now I'm older myself I see it's more about personality than age.

Also agree with PP about work nights out, often the older people don't want to go on a pub crawl ending up at the local night club. If it's a work night out it should suit everyone, especially if the company is paying.

SingingSands Thu 13-Feb-20 13:45:56

Understanding around childcare. A lot of women in their 50s still have childcare issues to contend with - more than ever before given the later ages woman ate becoming mothers.
Also, for those with teenagers - there are sometimes where parental leave could be utilised but it isn't mentioned. I'm taking some parental leave to help my anxious teen with her exams this year.
There's an attitude in some workplaces that once your kids are in high school you are expected to be full time in employment. I have always been part time (since my children were in nursery) and my manager was shocked that I didn't want to increase to full time once my youngest moved to high school - she had just "assumed" I would.

vickibee Thu 13-Feb-20 13:54:43

I am 52 and my son is in 2ndry. He is also disabled and I find it really hard to work even part time. I am 25 hours pw but struggle in the holidays. My employer has no empathy for this and refuses flexible working but insists I attend a training course 2 hours away that means I will work double my time. It is all one sided

giggleshizz Thu 13-Feb-20 13:55:46

Gen up on menopause and be supportive around this

Henryloveseatinglego Thu 13-Feb-20 14:03:03

I've notice a huge change in job market especially in the public sector and all the 60k jobs are going .older employees being pushed out in favour of younger graduates who will work for <20k they employ two with limited experience and academically suburb . its showing in society with the tick box mentally blindly following the systems with little customer focus .

ooooohbetty Thu 13-Feb-20 14:13:37

I'm over 50 and I don't want to be given any special treatment because of my age. There is already enough discrimination for employing older employees without making them even less attractive to employers. I work in the public sector and haven't noticed older employees being forced out and I was promoted a few years ago at the age of 56. I do know of someone who recently started trying to find work in her 60's after many years of not working and couldn't get an interview. I'm not sure how age discrimination can be tackled though.

BeaStoic Thu 13-Feb-20 14:28:55

Have you been through the menopause personally BeaStoic?

Yes.

both of which resolved themselves within a week of me starting HRT

That's what I said; some breeze through, some need HRT.

AutumnCrow Thu 13-Feb-20 14:33:33

Employ us?

Waterandlemonjuice Thu 13-Feb-20 14:37:34

I think there are several things:

Train hiring managers on age discrimination. Report on the age profiles of your organisation.

Give unconscious bias training so hiring managers don’t just hire in their own image, i.e. celebrate true diversity of thought and experience.

Recognise that many women over 50 have ageing parents and teenagers, which can be a shitty double whammy of responsibilities.

Ensure menopause is covered in private health care packages, in fact, insist on it being covered if you’re contracting with BUPA or AXA etc.

Ensure your brand and marketing doesn’t just show young people and millennials. Linkedin is shit for this, I rarely see anyone over 35 in photos on there.

Waterandlemonjuice Thu 13-Feb-20 14:38:02

Quite @AutumnCrow

MissingMySleep Thu 13-Feb-20 14:39:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

NormaSnorks Thu 13-Feb-20 14:44:41

That's what I said; some breeze through, some need HRT

Even the process of working out what is going on and getting your HRT fine-tuned to suit you can take time and in the meantime the symptoms can be debilitating. Pain and mental health issues from menopause simply aren't accepted or acknowledged as legitimate concerns (as your own posts have demonstrated). However if someone has other mental health issues or back pain for example, these are totally accepted.
To be honest, given how hopeless most GPs are about menopause, it would be in some big companies' best interests to give older women fast-track access to menopause specialists who can help them head off any issues before they impact the workplace too much.

I don't particularly like the way this company presents itself, but here's an example of exactly this - giving employee support to older, menopausal employees: peppy.health/menopause/our-plans/

Bananabixfloof Thu 13-Feb-20 15:08:04

And we're doing ourselves no favours by making the menopause (which is a perfectly natural occurrence) the new Big Topic. Many women breeze through it

Well we can hardly just ignore it. It's awful for some women, unbearable for some women and a breeze for some.
For those with unbearable symptoms (me) what do you suggest? Time off sick? Would have been a year in my case.
Wfh? My job isnt the type that can be done from home.
Go part time?, which I've had to do, not a possibility for probably most women.
Glad you didnt find it so hard but some of us do and just ignoring it wont stop it.

OllyBJolly Thu 13-Feb-20 15:27:27

Recognise that many women over 50 have ageing parents and teenagers, which can be a shitty double whammy of responsibilities

Where are the fathers/sons? Why should it be a women's responsibility? Have better leave policies which allow ALL employees reasonable time off to contend with domestic issues without making them feel they are shirking.

I have a lot of sympathy with Bea's point. There is already covert sex and age discrimination. Let's not make it even more difficult by suggesting menopause = flaky and unreliable.

The old mantra "what gets measured, gets results" carries a lot of truth and reporting on age profile would make employers pay attention

The world of work is going in a dangerous direction. The increase of fixed term and zero hour contracts have made longer serving, permanently employed, fully pensioned staff very expensive and both men and women are suffering from this. It is quite often those in their 50s who are the victims of redundancy programmes and the alternatives tend to be insecure employment contracts.

Waterandlemonjuice Thu 13-Feb-20 15:51:54

@ollybejolly I agree but the sad reality is that this shit often falls to women.

IrmaFayLear Thu 13-Feb-20 16:58:23

Taking on any employee is a risk - as OllyBJolly observes all permanent employees are expensive. Having "menopause rights" before you've even started would be difficult for an employer to navigate. And banning boozy nights out because older workers don't like them? Yeah, that'd make for wonderful office relations; same as that Chartered Institute of Management woman who said that football talk should be banned in workplaces because it alienates women (how insulting).

I know first hand that trying to find a job over 50 (even over 40!) is difficult. A while ago I applied for a job and eliminated all dates/clues as to age from my CV. I was invited for interview most enthusiastically, but inspite of looking (I think) in reasonable nick I could see the interviewer immediately losing interest. The one question was, "Can you use a computer?" I must have looked as if I was more used to a scroll of papyrus!

ageingdisgracefully Thu 13-Feb-20 17:52:10

I'm 60. I'm in my prime. Many employers, and people in general, take a view on older women that is patronising and insulting.

I would not wish to be considered "different" or deserving of special treatment on the grounds of my age. I would not wish to be considered a flake because I have a teenage daughter or may have older parents.

I do not take my issues to work. I expect to be treated fairly and with respect, just like other employees.

I'm no different - just wiser, more experienced and yes, I can use a bloody computergrin.

TeacupDrama Thu 13-Feb-20 17:58:43

I'm 52 not everyone has problems with menopause but those that do should be treated the same as anyone else with chronic health problems and reasonable adjustments made, often the symptoms make fatique a big problem this has work related consequences in your 50's you can't just bounce back and carry on regardless on 2-4 hours a sleep a night

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