Employers estimate up to a third of their staff would struggle to continue in their current jobs past traditional retirement ages, research for MetLife Employee Benefits shows.

Its nationwide study found HR directors believe on average 31% of their current workforce would not be able to perform their jobs adequately once they reach normal retirement ages even though 54% of them expect an increase in the proportion of older staff.

32% of employers say their workplace has a positive attitude to older workers with 54% saying their company is neutral on the issue.  Just 12% of companies questioned admit people in their workplace have a negative attitude to older workers.

Among concerns cited by HR directors was a rise in absence – 10% believe older workers will take more time off and 6% believe the rise in older workers will make career progression and recruitment more difficult.

Tom Gaynor, Employee Benefits Director, MetLife UK, said: “Employers are on the front line and need to respond positively to the demographic changes we’re starting to see in the workforce. It’s encouraging that there are mainly positive attitudes but there is still an undercurrent of concern and misguided thinking that could inhibit positive change. Older workers have a tremendous amount to offer and shouldn’t be seen as a problem but as a solution to many workplace challenges.”