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Retention of over-50s rises up employers’ agenda

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Employers embrace strategies to retain older workers

According to a recent study conducted by insurance company Aviva, employers are increasingly focused on retaining older workers, with 10% of them implementing new initiatives over the past year.

The research uncovered various schemes aimed at supporting older employees, including apprenticeship programmes, mid-life MOTs, job-sharing arrangements, and opportunities for “part-tirement” (semi or partial retirement).

A significant majority of employers, 76%, acknowledged the importance of retaining workers aged over 50, with 32% of them emphasising its high significance. Debbie Bullock, the Head of Wellbeing at Aviva, emphasised the crucial role of employers in supporting older workers during this time.

In an interview, Bullock stated, “People between 50 and 64 are increasingly economically inactive, but we are also facing a skill shortage. UK vacancies have fallen slightly in recent months but they are still high, so you have to be on the top of your game as an employer to attract and retain talent.”

Research conducted by Age UK in February revealed that there has been a significant increase of 320,000 in the number of individuals aged over 50 who are not part of the workforce but are of pre-retirement age. This concerning trend highlights the urgency to address the issue.

To address the situation, the government introduced a ‘Back to Work Budget’ in March, allocating £70 million to support over-50s in staying or reentering the workforce.

Bullock reiterated the need for employers to align the employee experience with the challenges faced by individuals aged over 50, both at work and in their personal lives. Flexibility emerged as a key factor, with older workers seeking options such as part-time employment or job sharing to accommodate responsibilities related to caring for older relatives or grandchildren.

Additionally, employers should carefully consider their reward and benefit packages, particularly in terms of promoting well-being. Many older workers experience musculoskeletal conditions, and support for menopause is crucial as it often becomes a reason for women leaving their jobs.

Bullock cautioned against the misconception that older workers no longer desire additional responsibilities or opportunities for career advancement. She highlighted that success for many older workers can be found in a sense of purpose and satisfaction in their contributions. Retaining such employees often involves providing them with enjoyable roles, which may include transitioning into different positions and necessitate reskilling. Bullock emphasised that learning new skills, whether through apprenticeships or other avenues, is not limited to younger workers alone.

The research was based on interviews conducted by Censuswide between May 3 and May 5, 2023.

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