To curb the exodus of over 50s, organisations should have flexible working in place and ensure learning and development programmes are suitable for all age groups, not just younger people.
According to Rest Less, a digital community for the over 50s, employers are not doing enough to retain older workers. In particular, flexible working is key for people thinking about returning to work after a period of absence, it said.
Its analysis of the Office for National Statistics’ October labour market figures found that there are now almost 14.6 million economically inactive people aged 50 and over – a record level. This is an increase of 1% compared with last year and up 5% since 2019.
By comparison, the number of people in work has remained static at 10.8 million – the same level as three years ago.
Rest Less founder Stuart Lewis said: “Our latest analysis shows that there are an additional 712,000 economically inactive people aged 50 and older compared with three years ago – a shocking increase which reverses a decades-long trend of employment growth amongst this demographic and highlights the long-term scarring of the pandemic on this portion of the workforce.”
Accomodating older workers
The ONS’s recent Over 50s lifestyle study for Great Britain found that 42% of people aged 50 to 65 not currently in work would return to emploment or self-employment in future, but 67% wanted to return to part-time work.
Asked about what was important to them when looking for work, 69% said location and 57% wanted flexible working opportunities. One in three people said flexible working was important to them, followed by good pay (21%) and a job that fits around caring responsibilities (13%).
Lewis said many older workers planned to delay retirement or return to work due to the cost-of-living crisis and their pension savings being it by the volatility in financial markets.
The ONS data showed that economic inactivity for those aged 65 and over had been decreasing since February to March 2022 but increased in June to August 2022.
“Amidst a widespread talent shortage, this presents an opportunity for businesses struggling with staff shortages to entice experience and talent back to work. Recent reports suggest the hospitality sector has already woken up to the benefits of hiring an older workforce and we are beginning to see other industries follow suit,” he said.
“For organisations who haven’t already done so, HR policies, support packages and diversity and equality strategies need to be adjusted with specific sensitivity to the needs of workers of all ages to ensure they have the support they need to return to work.”