Employers must find ways to secure the continued contribution of key
experienced workers in their late middle age.
This is the conclusion arising from an Economic and Social Research Council
study which explored the attitudes and experiences towards work and retirement
of male, middle-class managers and professionals in their late 40s and 50s.
Author, Professor Lorna McKee, of Aberdeen University Business School, said
that as the likelihood of early retirement disappears for many employees, work
might need to be restructured to harness the needs, aptitudes and talents of
The research says that alternatives to early retirement might include
part-time working, job-shares, sabbaticals, outplacements and packages within
company joint ventures.
Older managers in the study represent a highly work-centred, productive
generation. These workers have invested long hours and creativity in achieving
personal success – although often at the cost of their family life and to the
detriment of their health. Many risk burn-out, stress and disenchantment with
Growing work pressures and a perception that the company environment is
deteriorating leads to a drift into self-employment consultancy work as these
managers grow older.
Professor McKee said the challenge facing employers was to find ways of
retaining the skills of these valuable older workers.
"These men appear to be too fit to retire and too valuable to release.
"Imaginative options are needed which allow their voices to be heard
and let them be involved in the redesign of their work," she said.