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new dynamics of ageing a cross-council research programme Working Late: Strategies to Enhance Productive and Healthy

new dynamics of ageing

a cross-council research programme

Working Late: Strategies to Enhance Productive and Healthy Environments for the Older Workforce

Cheryl Haslam (PI)¹; Stacy Clemes¹; Joanne Crawford²; Alistair Gibb¹; Diane Gyi¹; Roger Haslam¹; Martin Maguire¹; Hilary McDermott¹; Kevin Morgan¹; Colette Nicolle¹. ¹Loughborough University; ²Institute of Occupational Medicine

Key findings

An age diverse workforce maintains knowledge, skills and experience within organisations. Promoting an age positive culture is key and examples of best practice can help organisations manage age diversity.

Flexible working practices such as flexi-time, part-time working and working from home can prove beneficial in helping employees continue working into later life.

Work is becoming increasingly sedentary and this is a major public health issue, as sedentary behaviour is an independent risk factor for a wide range of chronic diseases.

The research developed tailored workplace interventions to promote physical activity and reduce sedentary behaviour in workers of all ages. The Walking Works Wonders intervention improved productivity and quality of working life and reduced sickness absence, providing economic benefits to organisations.

Issues with the journey to work may influence employees’ choices about whether to continue working into later life. The Journey to Work resource has been developed to help explore different methods of travelling to work and to facilitate discussion among employees and employers.

The research team developed the Organiser for Working Late (OWL) which encourages managers and workers to think about all aspects of their health in relation to design at work.

Older workers have concerns about being fit for work and their ability to do their job in the future. Workers can provide useful input to design when thinking about reducing physical stress on the body. More than 200 design ideas relating to healthy working and reducing physical and mental stress on the body were captured from workers. Over half were deemed as low/no cost ideas.

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Background and methods

By 2020 over a third of the UK workforce will be aged over 50. It is now essential to facilitate extended working lives by promoting health in the workplace. Working Late investigated the policy issues associated with later life working and developed interventions and design solutions to promote health, productivity and quality of working life of older people. The research involved a mixed methods approach comprising: focus groups, interviews, surveys and interventions. The project was underpinned by user engagement involving agencies, employers and older workers to guide the research process.

Aims

Working Late investigated later life working across three main contextual themes: employment context, occupational health context and the work environment. The project objectives were to:

  • 1. Adopt continuous and active engagement with agencies, employers and older workers to guide the research process and deliver effective and wide ranging dissemination of the findings and outputs.

  • 2. Identify barriers and facilitators to working late, including examination of work participation

and organisational policies, the impact of age discrimination legislation and the logistics of the journey to work.

  • 3. Identify optimal, evidence based occupational health provision and collate current best practice in occupational health services accommodating the older worker.

  • 4. Develop, implement and evaluate workplace interventions to promote the health and workability of workers across the life course. Produce evidence based interventions and innovative health education materials to promote health at work.

  • 5. Focus on work environment design to develop the Organiser for Working Late (OWL), a web based resource to facilitate the design of work systems, equipment, tools, technologies, facilities and the built environment to achieve inclusive, productive workplaces.

The Study

Working Late was a four year collaborative research project involving interlinked research studies. The research team was multi-disciplinary, comprising the disciplines of psychology; gerontology; occupational health; biology; ergonomics; engineering and health economics.

Background and methods By 2020 over a third of the UK workforce will be aged over

The Working Late team

User engagement and dissemination

The Working Late project involved user engagement forums with older workers, representatives from industry, trade unions and members of the NDA Older People’s Reference Group (OPRG) to inform the research programme.

User engagement and dissemination The Working Late project involved user engagement forums with older workers, representatives

User engagement

To ensure wide distribution of the research outputs, a mixed media dissemination strategy was employed whereby findings were shared with the scientific community, organisations and policy makers through: journal articles, conference papers, press releases, news reports, videos, the Working Late website (www.workinglate.org) and social media promotion (twitter.com/workhealth).

A Working Late newsletter was produced on a six monthly basis. The final research outputs were
A Working Late newsletter was produced on a six
monthly basis. The final research outputs were
presented and the project resources launched at
the Working Late Showcase
Event held in
London in March
2013.
Working late
showcase event

Dynamics of later life working

Ricardo Twumasi, Dr Hilary McDermott, Professor Kevin Morgan and Professor Cheryl Haslam

Many legislative changes have occurred in recent years in response to the ageing population. These include age discrimination legislation, removal of

the default retirement age and equalisation of men’s and women’s state pension ages. Given the wide spread impact of these changes, this

research sought to identify the practice and policy implications of later life working.

A comprehensive literature review was conducted which helped develop the interview schedules used in this research.

A total of 110 interviews were conducted, comprising

User engagement and dissemination The Working Late project involved user engagement forums with older workers, representatives

Dynamics of later life working

  • 51 employees aged over 50 years, 20 employers,

  • 27 job seekers over the age of 50, and 12 recently

retired individuals. Following data transcription and analysis, findings were presented, discussed and validated over the course of 4 expert panels with Human Resources professionals, Occupational Health experts, line managers, employment lawyers, trade union representatives, civil servants and academics. Finally, a series of representative video case studies were filmed using quotes and, in some cases, participants from the interview section of the study. These were accompanied with a series of responses from experts.

Key findings

Overall, employers reported that older workers were essential in maintaining knowledge, skills and experience within their organisations. Recruiting and retaining older workers was reported as a benefit in responding to the changing demographics and needs of customers and clients. However, a minority of line managers, who had little experience of the benefits of age diverse workforces, reported selection of candidates on the basis of age, irrespective of organisational policy or discrimination legislation. In line with this, older job seekers often felt that age was taken into account when applying for jobs. Older job seekers reported that they sometimes conceal details that can be used to calculate their age on their CV, or specifically target age friendly employers rather than make complaints about applications they feel may have been rejected due to age. Older job seekers felt

that job centres failed to meet their needs, but they highly valued job clubs and job-seeking networks.

Offering flexible working practices such as flexi- time, part time working, job sharing and working from home, and workplace accommodations can be beneficial in helping employees continue working into later life. However, it was interesting to note that older workers would like these polices available for all age groups and are against specific older worker policies. Although these policies are most sought after by employees with health concerns or caring responsibilities, they offer benefits to all employees and age groups. Offering policies that aim to extend healthy working lives across the workforce is an important step in taking a life span approach to promoting longer, healthy working lives. An age positive organisational culture is essential in responding to the demographic changes of the workforce. Examples of best practice and promotion of best practice initiatives may help organisations, particularly those without Human Resource departments, to respond to an age diverse workforce.

The journey to work

Colette Nicolle, Dr Martin Maguire, Rachel Talbot and Becky Mallaband

Issues with the journey to work may be a factor influencing workers’ decisions about whether to continue working in later life. This aspect of the Working Late project examined the journey to work from the perspective of older workers and explored the problems that older workers may experience with their commute to work and the strategies they adopt to mitigate travel issues.

The first stage of the research involved identifying the main issues associated with the journey to work and their influence on employment. This was

achieved by holding user engagement discussions with experts, employer representatives and older workers. The discussions informed the development of a questionnaire to examine the extent to which the journey to work may prove a barrier to older workers. A total of 1,215 completed questionnaires were returned which provided insight into travel difficulties encountered as well as potential future travel difficulties anticipated. In order to gather more detailed information on issues with the journey to work, 36 interviews were conducted with employees over the age of 45. Finally, 12 employers were interviewed to assess the ways in which employers may assist employees with their journey.

Key findings

A wide range of strategies were identified to alleviate problems with the journey to work, including: downsizing to a smaller or more efficient car; adopting a more efficient driving style; and obtaining a season ticket loan to make purchasing the season ticket affordable. Other strategies included: changing travel route; car share; flexible working; and working from home. It was interesting to note that where travel issues were reported, the likelihood of an employee reporting problems with their journey to work did not increase with age. However, implications of travel difficulties may change as individuals become older. Where a younger person is having problems, they may be likely to change jobs but where an older person is having difficulties they may be more likely to consider giving up work. The research also explored initiatives employers use to assist their employees with their journey to work. For the majority of employers, no specific schemes were adopted except for general working practices, such as working from home and/or other flexible working patterns.

that job centres failed to meet their needs, but they highly valued job clubs and job-seeking

The Journey to work resource

The research led to the development of the ‘Journey to Work’ resource pack which was designed and assessed by employee and employer representatives with an aim to feed into practical policy initiatives to support older workers. The resource can be accessed at www.workinglate.org/research/journey and downloaded and printed, as well as being easily navigable with a PC or tablet to ensure ease of accessibility in the workplace.

Occupational health provision

Dr Myanna Duncan, Dr Aadil Kazi, Dr Stacy Clemes and Professor Cheryl Haslam

This aspect of the research evaluated the strategies used by occupational health (OH) departments to promote health at work. Interviews with OH experts and organisational stakeholders (n=51) identified current health promotion initiatives and contributed to the design of an employee survey. The survey (n=1,141) explored employees’ experiences of OH services, general health and job attitudes. Four focus groups were conducted with employees and 2 were conducted with OH professionals to explore barriers and facilitators to delivering health interventions.

Key findings

Contact with OH services and participation in OH initiatives was rarely reported by survey participants. Where contact did occur, common reasons included:

musculoskeletal disorders, pain management and sickness absence monitoring. Where OH initiatives were promoted, the majority of employees failed to participate because the initiatives were deemed unsuitable or because the initiatives were felt to be poorly executed with limited information and/or communication to employees.

The research obtained data on employees’ physical activity levels, indicating that less than a quarter of the sample met recommended guidelines for physical activity. Data was also gathered on sitting time in a range of different contexts, for example, at work, in transport and at home. Sitting at work accounted for more than half of the total daily sitting time and individuals were sitting for almost as much time as they were sleeping at night. When Body Mass Index (BMI) was examined in relation to sitting time, individuals in the obese BMI category (30+) reported significantly higher sitting times

compared to individuals in the normal (18.5-24.9) and overweight (25-29.9) BMI categories.

Interventions to promote health and work ability

Dr Aadil Kazi, Dr Myanna Duncan, Dr Stacy Clemes, Lois Edwards, Dr Paul Miller and Professor Cheryl Haslam

A total of 1,120 employees took part in a 12-month intervention, which promoted physical activity at work. Participants were recruited from 10 different worksites across the UK: Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Newcastle and Ipswich (3 sites) and were drawn from 2 different organisations (1 medium public sector, 1 large private sector).

The 10 worksites were each allocated to 1 of 3 conditions: staged intervention, standard intervention or control group. In the staged intervention group the health information received was tailored according to recipients’ readiness for change. Those thinking about increasing their levels of physical activity were given practical advice about changing behaviour whereas those not thinking about increasing their physical activity levels were targeted with awareness raising information about the risks of sedentary behaviour and the benefits of physical activity. In the standard condition, participants received generic physical activity promotion material already available via health promotion organisations. All participants received Working Late pedometers to record daily step counts.

The research led to the development of the ‘Journey to Work’ resource pack which was designed

Health assessment

Participants received one-to-one physiological health assessments at six monthly intervals over the course of one year. Assessments included measures of: blood pressure, resting heart rate, waist to hip ratio, height and body composition analysis. Participants also completed psychological health measures in the form of a questionnaire at each assessment period. Following the one year intervention period, a further 2 health assessments were conducted at 18 and 24 months to evaluate the longer term impact of the intervention.

To supplement the quantitative data collected from the health screenings, 56 interviews were conducted with participants. These interviews provided real life examples of the ways in which participating in the health intervention impacted individual’s lives both inside and outside of the workplace.

The Working Late team partnered with the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), to launch a national competition for designers to develop innovative ways of encouraging people to be more active at work. The competition was judged by a panel chaired by Professor Jeremy Myerson, Director of the Helen Hamlyn Centre of Design at the Royal College of Art. The winners of the competition were graduates from Kingston University, Jenny Rice and Rachael Ball Risk, who designed ‘Walking Lunch’. Walking Lunch involves placing a large map (1 metre diameter) in a communal area of a worksite. The map has a radius of 1.5 km and displays the surrounding areas of the workplace. The aim is to encourage employees to use their lunchtime breaks for a local walk. When employees arrive at an area on the map, they might take a photo on their mobile phone or digital camera, and come back to the office to print out the photo and pin it to the map using tags. The tags have space for employees to record the number of steps taken to get to the location in the image and any other relevant information. This may encourage other employees to visit these areas. Employees participating in the Walking Works Wonders intervention were also provided with an individual (smaller) paper version of the map to track their journey and make any notes.

Participants received one-to-one physiological health assessments at six monthly intervals over the course of one year.

Workplace health interventions

Key findings

Individuals provided with staged intervention information demonstrated the biggest reduction in BMI. Walking for staged and standard intervention groups increased whereas the control group showed a reduction. There were significant reductions in self-reported sickness absence for employees participating in the study: this averaged to 1.16 days per person per year. Employees also reported their work performance increased by 10% in the past year. There were no differences between the results for employees aged over or under 50 years old, indicating that the intervention is effective for workers of all ages. Finally, an economic evaluation calculated that the return on investment for the intervention was strongly positive. Specifically, for every £1 invested, savings of up to £32 could be made in terms of reduced absence and increased performance.

Ageing productively through design

Dr Elaine Gosling, Dr Diane Gyi, Professor Roger

Haslam and Professor Alistair Gibb

Through close collaboration with industry, this

component of the research aimed to encourage

managers and workers to think about healthy

ageing at work. This led to the co-development

of the Organiser for Working Late (OWL) resource

which aims to facilitate communication in relation to

design in the workplace. Underpinning the research

was belief that industry can learn from older and

experienced workers about good design, in terms of

encouraging healthy behaviour and healthy ageing.

A total of 21 industrial collaborators participated

in a questionnaire survey (n=719) which explored

the design of work tasks, tools, environments and

the effect of these on workers, both physically and

mentally. Ergonomic observations and interviews

were conducted with employees (n=32) in 4

collaborating organisations, including construction,

office work, manufacturing and animal care.

The aim was to gain in-depth understanding

of how employees interact with the design in

their workplace. This resulted in 130 hours of

observations. Images, audio and video recordings

were captured to highlight individual working

conditions. Following the observations, a series of

focus groups were conducted where employees

were encouraged to reflect upon their work, how

health and ageing impacted on their ability to

work and discuss design ideas and solutions to

specific problems. These findings contributed to

the production of the OWL resource, iteratively co-

developed by the research team and participating

organisations. The resource further included

evaluation by 15 programme testers, managers and

associated stakeholders who focused on checking

the accuracy and quality of the content during

implementation and evaluation.

Ageing productively through design Dr Elaine Gosling, Dr Diane Gyi, Professor Roger Haslam and Professor Alistair

Key findings

Many workers from a cross-section of different

industries and job types experienced a high level of

musculoskeletal symptoms. The prevalence was high

for both older (aged 50 and over) and younger (aged

49 or less) workers. Workers aged 50 years and over

expressed concerns about being able to remain fit

and healthy for work, their ability to complete job

tasks and keeping up work performance as they

age. Workers recognised that their workplaces

could be better designed to promote their health

but they perceived they were not empowered to

make changes. The concept of a ‘workplace good

design champion’ was suggested to facilitate the

identification and implementation of good practice.

More than 200 design ideas relating to healthy

working and reducing physical and mental stress on

the body were captured from the research, with over

half deemed as low or no cost ideas. The outputs

from the research led to co-development of the OWL

resource which aims to facilitate communication in

relation to design in the workplace. OWL includes

design tools, personal stories, audio and video clips

of design ideas to assist discussion of health needs

with employees. The tool is based around two

themes namely: ‘the body at work’, which includes

a suite of image and word cards based around

the body, the work environment, equipment, and

actions; and ‘healthy ageing though design’, which

demonstrates the diversity of the ideas and personal

stories workers had in relation to their health and

age at work. OWL can be accessed online at

www.workinglate-owl.org through a PC, tablet or

smart phone to make it as versatile and accessible as

possible on different platforms.

Ageing productively through design Dr Elaine Gosling, Dr Diane Gyi, Professor Roger Haslam and Professor Alistair

The body at work cards

Conclusion

The Working Late project has raised the profile of the ageing workforce and produced new knowledge of how

organisational policy and practice impacts on the employment experiences of older workers. Investigating

experiences of older job seekers has highlighted some of the ways employers may discriminate on the basis

of age. The journey to work and the options, enablers and barriers workers may face were investigated and

a travel resource was generated to help identify and manage commuting problems. The research evaluated

employees’ experiences of previous workplace health promotion initiatives and used the results to inform the

development of a new and innovative physical activity intervention. The Walking Works Wonders intervention

was designed, implemented and evaluated in worksites across the UK. Results showed that it improved health,

productivity and quality of working life, and now considerable scope exists for many more employees and

organisations to benefit from this intervention. Finally a web resource: the Organiser for Working Late (OWL)

was developed to support workers and managers using tools that aid communication in relation to good

design and ergonomics, promoting an inclusive workplace and facilitating later life working.

Conclusion The Working Late project has raised the profile of the ageing workforce and produced new

Contact details

Professor Cheryl Haslam Work & Health Research Centre School of Sport, Exercise & Health Sciences Loughborough University Leicestershire LE11 3TU www.workinglate.org Email: C.O.Haslam@lboro.ac.uk

Published by the NDA Research Programme

Department of Sociological Studies University of Sheffield Elmfield Northumberland Road Sheffield S10 2TU www.newdynamics.group.shef.ac.uk Email: nda@sheffield.ac.uk

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Conclusion The Working Late project has raised the profile of the ageing workforce and produced new

Design I Print I www.sheffield.ac.uk/cics/printanddesign I August 2013