Older Workers research using the Workplace Employment Relations Survey

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Summary & aims

Despite an increase in labour market participation amongst older people little is known about where they work, the effects of workplace policies and practices on their working experiences, or their impact on workplace performance. This study provides robust evidence on the employment of older workers by making use of the detailed information on employees and the workplaces in which they are located from the British Workplace Employment Relations Survey (WERS) series.



The aims of the study were:

·         to improve understanding of how employer policies and practices affect the employment of older workers.  The intention was to assess whether particular forms of action by employers might improve the recruitment and retention of older workers.

·         to determine the impact of employing older workers on overall workplace performance.  The evidence produced was used in work with employers designed to increase the employment of older workers, for example, by raising awareness of the potential benefits of having an older workforce, or setting out factors that employers need to consider if any benefits from employing older workforce are to be realised.

The work contributed to the evidence base on how employers can contribute to fuller working lives and how they might be exhorted to play a part in this.  It also increased understanding of the potential impact on employers of employing a greater proportion of older workers.

Timescale and funder

This project began in March 2016 and completed in June 2016.  It was funded by the Department for Work and Pensions, with the intention of informing the development of government policy in this area.  


Bryson, A., Forth, J., Gray, H. and Stokes, L. (2021) ”Does Employing Older Workers Affect Workplace Performance?”, Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, 59, 4: 532-562