Rehiring retirees – are they worth it?


Social work has been in crisis for some time, and more so than ever now, in the aftermath of the Baby P case. According to the Local Government Association (LGA)’s Respect and Protect report, one in 10 social work posts is vacant at any one time.  In fact, so few people now want to work in the beleaguered sector that the LGA is to ask up to 5,000 retired social workers to come back to work.

That’s 5000 people who may be out of date with legislation, working practice, even technology. As if the sector wasn’t in enough of a mess.


Much has been said and written about what organisations lose when their older workers retire, particularly soft skills such as dealing face-to-face with customers, or historical knowledge of the organisation and how it operates. But, except in extreme cases, such as that currently faced by social work bosses, wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the knowledge within the company and train younger staff properly, rather than going to the expense and inconvenience of rehiring retirees?

Of course it depends on how long people have been rehired, but have companies thought through the financial implications of training returning retirees? And although personal financial needs may well mean that people are keen to come back to work, surely the majority would prefer to enjoy their well-earned retirement.

, , , , , ,

3 Responses to Rehiring retirees – are they worth it?

  1. Beth Vaughan 4 March 2009 at 4:52 pm #

    It is vital that employers realise the benefits of retaining the older workforce, as tapping into their skills and experience can bring huge benefits to organisations.
    Several leading employers and members of the Employers Forum on Age (EFA) operate without a default retirement age and report positive impacts for customer service, staff loyalty and business strategy. It is true that older workers may be looking forward to their retirement, but the reality is that many can’t afford to retire at 65 and many actively want to stay in the workplace.
    In the event that staff are re-hired, we would wish employers to follow their more enlightened peers and recognise that age is no barrier to training and learning.

  2. Nic Sale 6 March 2009 at 12:39 pm #

    There are clear benefits in rehiring retired employees. Firstly, the LGA knows who they are taking on. What better form of probation than 5, 10, 15+ years on the job with performance records?

    Secondly, these employees know the job – attrition within the critical first six month period will be significantly lower.

    Thirdly, their resilience is likely to be higher – they know the problems and how to deal with them.

    From my perspective, the fact that their legislative knowledge might be out of date is a non-issue. Any recruit into this role will need this training and completely new recruits will need a whole lot more.

  3. Matthew Chester 6 March 2009 at 12:41 pm #

    A key focus for business leaders today is to make sure that their people, culture and work environments remain as positive as possible – and the best places to work today are driven by strong values and emotionally intelligent leadership. Without a doubt, retaining one’s more experienced employees can provide significant value-add through re-instilling those seemingly old fashioned values of acknowledging experience and good customer service – whoever the customer is.

    Additionally, seasoned employees have been through previous downturns and can bring a calming and positive influence to the work environment. Leaders should think twice before releasing those more experienced employees as the longer term cost to the future growth – and sometimes the very survival – of the business could be high.