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22 Nov 2023
by Gail Izat

3 tips for employers to create a culture that supports older workers

The number of mature workers ‘unretiring’ is increasing, and supporting them is a win-win for business

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In the last year, the number of retirees returning to work has increased. This National Older Workers Week (20-24 November), it’s time to look at ways to support and retain this highly skilled segment of your workforce – and tap into the talents they bring to your business.

Most people probably see retirement as a one-way street. Standard Life’s latest Retirement Voice report – which looks at how the nation is feeling about their savings and retirement – would suggest otherwise.

It’s research reveals that the number of 55 to 64-year-olds unretiring and going back to work has almost doubled since last year (up from 6% in 2022 to 11% this year).

So why are more people making a retirement U-turn?

For many, the reason appears to be financial. Of those who returned to work, 32% did so because their living costs increased more than expected, while 24% said their pension wasn’t enough for them to live off.

Social factors also play a big part. More than one-third (39%) say boredom, feeling socially isolated (19%), or unhappy (15%) drove them back to work.

As for where people go next, almost half (48%) of those who unretired went back into the industry they left, while four in 10 (41%) say they’re trying something new.

This shift in retirement plans poses questions for employers and what they can do to support older workers who may be on the way out of – or back into – employment.

Harnessing the talents of older workers

Over-50s are fast becoming the dominant demographic in the workplace. According to Working Wise, one in three workers will be 50 or over by 2025.

Crucially, older workers hold a wealth of valuable skills, knowledge and experience. Indeed, this year’s National Older Workers Week campaign highlights that having multigenerational teams is good for business, because each brings different insights and viewpoints into the workplace.

Unfortunately, ageism continues to create barriers. Research by Phoenix Insights reveals that many over-50s feel left behind or undervalued in the workplace. Many also felt there were limited options for them in terms of career development or career changes.

The UK workforce is changing and the population is ageing. Many of us are or will be working for longer. Standard Life research shows that more than half the country (54%) think they’ll need to keep working beyond state pension age.

If employers are to harness the talents of an older workforce, it’s vital they adjust their thinking, understand the challenges that older workers face and embrace the value they can bring.

3 tips for employers to support older workers

1. Understand your employees

Do you know how many of your employees are over 50, and how they’re feeling about work? It’s a good idea to find out, because it can help you shape a dedicated support package that reflects employees’ needs.

An anonymous survey can help you capture this information and spot any trends that might correlate with age. It can also help employees feel that their concerns or feedback are being taken seriously.

2. Offer flexible working

Flexibility is a priority for those aged 50+. If you’re hiring, make it clear in your job ads that the role is flexible and explain what type of flexibility you offer. Leaving out this important information might put off older workers from applying.

Promote your flexible working options to your current workers too.

3. Create an inclusive culture

Tackling ageism and negative stereotypes at work is crucial to building an inclusive culture.

Consider reviewing your policies, such as recruitment, training and employee benefits, to ensure they’re inclusive of all age groups.

You could also create an internal communications campaign to raise awareness of ageism. Ageist attitudes – such as believing older workers can’t learn new things – might be internalised or unconscious – so it’s important to help break down these biases.

For more insights on financial wellbeing, including resources on how you can help support your employees, visit our Financial Wellbeing hub.

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In partnership with Standard Life

Standard Life are part of Phoenix Group, the UK’s largest long-term savings and retirement business. We both share an aligned ambition to help every customer enjoy a life full of possibilities.

Contact us today