Three-quarters (76 per cent) of U.K. employers think it’s important to retain employees over age 50, with almost a third (32 per cent) saying it’s very important, according to a new survey by Aviva.

It also found 10 per cent of employers have introduced support over the last year for retaining employees aged 50 or older. These include apprenticeship programs, job-sharing and opportunities for semi or partial retirement.

“Employees over 50 can be a valuable asset to an organization, bringing a breadth of experience and skills,” said Debbie Bullock, head of well-being at Aviva, in a press release. “It is important they are supported by employers in a way that recognizes their individual needs.

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“Improving retention rates can be supported by apprenticeship programmes, which offer an opportunity to re-skill and mid-life MOTs, which are a free check-up of your wealth, work and well-being. It is also worth considering options for job-sharing, ‘part-tirement’ and seasonal working to cover peak times.”

Other initiatives employers have introduced in the past year include diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives (nine per cent), as well as support for LGBTQ2S+ employees (seven per cent), neurodiverse employees (seven per cent), workers with menopause symptoms (six per cent) and people experiencing fertility issues (five per cent).

Programs and initiatives that support the retention of diverse employees is even more important during the current economic uncertainty, which is having knock-on effects for employers. Indeed, three-quarters (76 per cent) of employers are optimistic about their company’s future, compared to 79 per cent last year.

While the last year has been turbulent, top priorities for employers over the next 12 months are retaining key employees (33 per cent), attracting employees with the right skills (30 per cent) and motivating employees without unduly increasing pay (28 per cent).

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“Providing support for a diverse range of well-being needs is not just the right thing to do, it also makes sound commercial sense,” said Bullock. “When people feel supported by their employer, it helps to alleviate the pressure they might be under and allows them to be their authentic selves when coming into work. This in turn improves morale and motivation, which in turn improves productivity and performance.”

On the employee side, the survey found 72 per cent of respondents said the cost-of-living crisis has made them feel more anxious about their finances, with women (78 per cent) more likely than men (65 per cent) to say the crisis has made them feel more anxious. To help cope with feelings of anxiety about their finances, employees were more likely (46 per cent) to say they talk to their friends or family, followed by those who try not to think about their finances (28 per cent) and those who talk to their colleagues or manager (17 per cent).

Employers have an important role to play in supporting their employees through this challenging time, particularly when it comes to offering financial education. However, 34 per cent of employer respondents said they don’t actively encourage employees to talk to their managers about their financial concerns.

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More than two in five (43 per cent) employees said they’ve never spoken to their employer or line manager about their financial well-being, a significant improvement on last year, when this percentage was 73 per cent.

Younger workers were more likely to say they’ve talked to their employer or line manager about their financial well-being — 73 per cent for respondents between the ages of 16 and 24, followed by those aged 25 to 34 (66 per cent) and between the ages of 35 and 44 (52 per cent). Older workers were more likely to say they haven’t — 61 per cent for those aged 45 to 54 and 65 per cent for those aged 55 or older.