Promoting mental health at work is key to ensuring healthy and active ageing for all. It can delay the need for care and prevent premature retirement and disability. Today, EuroHealthNet launches a new policy brief offering strategies for mitigating psychosocial risks to older workers’ (age 55-65+) health in the workplace.
Older workers tend to experience more psychosocial risks than other age groups. Their skills may become outdated faster than they are able to re- and up-skill, and precarious working contracts can undermine their ability to build social and economic resources. Older workers more often report work-related health risks and have higher rates of sickness absence. But it does not have to be this way. When adequately supported and protected, older workers are an asset to an organisation, economy, and society.
Mounting evidence shows that workers’ health is affected by psychosocial risks, such as conflicting work-family life obligations, job insecurity and work-related stress. Those suffering from psychosocial challenges at work have higher rates of heart and cardiovascular problems and suffer from increased sleep deprivation and depression.
Improving health and safety at work is a key EU social policy objective. The European Pillar of Social Rights specifies the rights to working arrangements that facilitate caring responsibilities (Principle 9) and to a working environment adapted to professional needs and that protects health and safety (Principle 10). As the European Commission is rolling-out its European Care Strategy and making plans for a comprehensive Europe-wide approach to mental health, our policy brief offers pathways for progress.
The brief makes six recommendations for mitigating psychosocial risks at work to be adopted by employers and taken forward by policy-makers. These will benefit all workers, but especially older workers.
- Encourage lifelong learning and development of diverse skillsets
- Offer options for flexible working
- Leverage ‘bidirectional’ mentoring processes
- Offer flexible retirement structures
- Establish supportive policies and strengthen organisational capacities for health benefits
- Identify (mental) ‘health promotors’ and promising programmes