Keeping employees engaged and productive is one of the biggest challenges facing employers. It's also set to grow as the global working population grows older. Whether through need or choice, growing numbers of people are delaying their retirement and staying in the workplace for longer.

As a result many companies have begun to rethink their attitude to older employees and change their working practices. In particular, they are focusing on the fact that older employees are more likely to have care responsibilities for elderly parents.

We know from our Global Employees Benefits Watch report that this is creating concerns for employers. This is especially so in the APAC region, where eldercare responsibilities are a pressing issue. Many have no strategy in place to tackle what threatens to become an acute problem in the next few years.

It is clear that business practices will need to change to appeal to both older and younger workers. Yet our research revealed that a significant number of companies (38%) struggle to provide a flexible benefits strategy for these different demographics. 41% offer nothing for employees caring for an elderly parent. 

Nearly half of respondents (49%) cited Asia Pacific as the region where they were most concerned about the aging workforce. Right now, people aged 65 and over comprise 8.3% of the Singapore population, an increase of 2.3% in the last 15 years.

This trend could have a severed impact on the country’s economic growth. Yet we are beginning to see a response from employers, with an upward trend in the provision of a range of eldercare-related employee benefits.

According to the 2014 National Study of Employers from Families and Work Institute, the share of employers providing information about eldercare services to their employees increased from 31% in 2008 to 43% in 2014. Three-quarters of employers say they offer time off for elder care without penalising workers, although few offer paid leave.

The proportion of companies allowing workers to pay for some eldercare through salary sacrifice has nearly doubled, to 41% since 2008.

This is a similar system to employer supported child care employee benefits. Other employers have some way to go in seeing the value of offering these benefits.

At least part of the solution lies in encouraging employers to realise the potential of older employees. Older employees not only have the vital skills that companies are now competing for, but also years of experience that can mean they are more productive in their work.

Flexible work arrangements can be a key driver of employee engagement across the entire workforce, but they will have particular resonance with older employees. These could include options to work flexi-hours, part-time, contract work, as well as from home.

Employers across the globe are likely to find a best fit in a combination of flexible working options, alongside a choice of eldercare-related benefits. These arrangements will help ensure that older staff who need to juggle their job and family care can remain motivated and productive for as long as they stay with the company.