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Retention of over-50s rises up employers’ agenda

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Employers are trying to retain older workers, with one in 10 (10%) employers introducing new schemes in the last year, according to research from insurance company Aviva.

Schemes included apprenticeship programmes, mid-life MOTs, job-sharing, and opportunities for ‘part-tirement’ (semi or partial retirement).

Over three quarters (76%) of employers think it is important to retain employees aged over 50, with almost a third (32%) of those saying it is very important.


More on workers over 50:

TUC: “Stark” class divide in over-50s leaving work

Could a midlife MOT keep the over 50s in work for longer?

The Great Retirement – why older people are leaving work in droves


Debbie Bullock, head of wellbeing at Aviva said it is a particularly important time for employers to support older workers.

Speaking to HR magazine, she said: “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.”

There are 3.5 million over-50s of pre-retirement age who are not part of the workforce, an increase of 320,000 since before the pandemic, according to research from Age UK published in February.

In March, the government announced a ‘Back to work Budget’ which included £70 million investment in support for over-50s staying in or getting back to work.

Bullock said employers must align their employee experience with the struggles that over-50s face, both in work and in their personal life.

She said: “One of the key things is flexibility; people looking to return to work are looking for flexible options – whether that’s part time, job share – and that’s often to work around caring for older relatives or grandchildren.

“You also need to look at your reward and benefit package, particularly the wellbeing side of it.

“Many older workers suffer from musculoskeletal conditions and menopause support is obviously crucial as well, as that’s one of the reasons women tend to leave work.”

Bullock said employers need to avoid the misconception that workers do not want further responsibility or progression as they age.

“There’s a misconception that to be successful in work you have to keep progressing and taking on more,” she said. “But for many older workers, success can be a sense of purpose and joy in what you’re delivering.

“Often the way to retain people is to make sure they’re given a sense of enjoyment in what they’re doing.

“That can mean they want to do a different job from before and it links to the need for reskilling. Learning new things, in apprenticeships or otherwise, is not just for younger workers.”

Employers (excluding sole traders) were interviewed by Censuswide between 3 and 5 May 2023.

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