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9. Is Your Business Ready for the Unretirement Uprising? | Age Pioneers Action Panel Report

This report highlights the salient points from the session with our guest speakers

James Marsh
James Marsh
A published author, as well as a corporate and lifestyle media professional, James works across content, marketing and consultancy.

Age Pioneers is an Action Panel of cross-sector HRDs and Heads of D&I. It includes the likes of Bank of Ireland, Unilever, EY, Capita, Dentsu and Boots. We have a core group that attends each month and picks apart a single topic in relation to age inclusion. We use the first 30 mins to interview our panel on the topic to share their experience and have a Q&A (which is recorded and turned into a published article, as here). The next hour the group becomes the panel and debates the topic under Chatham House rules in an unrecorded event to allow peer networking and collaboration.

April’s webinar examined how the Spring Budget responded to the themes raised by 55/Redefined’s report, published late 2022, The Unretirement Uprising – The Retirement Rebellion that Could Save Our Workplaces.

Is Your Business Ready for the Unretirement Uprising?

Will the Spring Budget Improve the Prospects for Over-50s Workers and Help Employers Plan for the Future?

Joining Lyndsey Simpson, 55/Redefined's founder and CEO, our guest speakers were:

Sabine Tyldesley, Associate Director at SEC Newgate, a global strategic communications organisation. Sabine is an expert on UK government and public affairs, and has significant expertise in relation to employers and over-50s workers. “We work with organisations to get their message heard by the right audience. One aspect is helping organisations engage with Government and share their frontline experience to improve regulations and policies.”

Adele Aitchison, Founder and CEO of GrandNanny, a new childcare service that supports midlife and older neighbours to find childcare jobs with local families, and create age-integrated communities. “It’s really about unlocking the power and the experience of midlife and older childcare to help solve the UK childcare crisis. We recruit, train, promote, match and handle all the employment administration around those individuals and the families they work with.”

Sabine Tyldesley & Adele Aitchison

Sabine Tyldesley & Adele Aitchison

Lyndsey Simpson, CEO of 55/Redefined opened the session by revealing the work 55/Redefined does behind the scenes talking to Government. “We have spent a lot of time lobbying the Treasury and the Department of Work and Pensions on behalf of employers and the over-50s. We submitted a report to the government asking for a number of key changes, with some notable success.”

Pension Incentivisation for Older Workers in the Spring Budget 2023

Lyndsey explained: “One of our requests was around pension simplification. This was following feedback from our members who are retired – 68% of them would consider returning to work if there was some pension incentivisation. We were absolutely delighted to see that the Lifetime Allowance will be removed from April 2023 and abolished entirely from April 2024. We believe that this is going to be a bit of a game changer, particularly for professional workers who want to re-engage back into the workforce.”

Lyndsey noted that while some media coverage felt this was only of benefit to the wealthy, she disagreed: a £1.1million annuity will provide a pension of £35,000 a year, a figure that may not be high enough given future predicted lifespans. One of the attendees was not convinced the measure will encourage retirees to return – they pointed out that those who have stopped work and already have a £1million plus pension pot, are also likely to have other significant assets. They will be able to significantly increase the pot through reinvestment. But the new measure may be a significant incentive for future older workers to delay their retirement.

Another change was the raising of the annual pension allowance by 50% to £60,000 a year. Sabine explained that though this was primarily aimed at senior NHS doctors who felt disincentivised to continue working, other industries could benefit. “This could be great for employers who want to enable the retention of other highly skilled workers in their fifties, sixties and beyond.”

Conclusion: Changes to pension limits could help many over-50s re-engage with the workplace.

Helping Government Understand the Issues Around Older Workers

Sabine from SEC Newgate explained the background to the budget: “We’ve had a hugely turbulent time in politics and UK government. This budget was very much about creating stability. The Chancellor was trying to spread the support he was offering as broad as possible, to try to fill the 500,000 working age people who’d left the workforce since the pandemic. One of those groups was the over-50s and another was working parents.”

SEC Newgate worked with 55/Redefined to get the older workers message across to Government. “Policy makers can’t read everything; they can’t see everything. Sometimes it helps to make it easy for them to understand and show the content that is out there. It’s always easier to get yourself heard if you are riding the wave a little bit. So, for us it was about shaping the direction of travel.

“What Government wants is not just for organisations to have a moan but to share solutions. And that is exactly what 55/Redefined does – it has a wealth of data it is sharing. It was about putting that data in front of the right people. We all understood the pressures the Chancellor was under, so we mapped out a path to engage with the budget. We worked to make sure those in power understood what was important.”

Conclusion: 55/Redefined has ensured older workers remain on the political agenda.

Budget Reforms on Childcare Support for Parents – And Grandparents

It’s been widely acknowledged the financial strain childcare puts on parents – there are about 435,000 people in England with a child under three who are inactive due to their caring responsibilities. It’s often the grandparents who step in to help, to allow parents to work.

Adele from GrandNanny explained: “There are 14 million grandparents in the UK and five million are providing regular childcare. They are often being totally relied upon.” While this is invaluable for parents and children, it comes at a cost to the grandparents whose opportunities to work are curtailed.

The budget increased the amount of childcare up to 30 hours a month and for all children from nine months. Previously, it was from three years. However, this will be rolled in phases from April 2024, so won’t help many parents and grandparents of young children for some time. Adele said: “We were delighted to see the extensions to the government-funded childcare hours. The sector is on its knees trying to meet demand, as nurseries have closed in the wake of covid and the cost-of-living crisis. But there is a huge opportunity in supporting over-50s into this kind of work.”

Conclusion: Grandparents remain a cornerstone of many families’ childcare solutions.

What Attracts Older Workers to Employment Opportunities?

As well as founding a business using older workers, Adele has pertinent academic expertise. “My background is gerontology, the study of ageing. When you examine wellbeing, we classify it as hedonic or eudemonic. Hedonic wellbeing is concerned with pleasure attainment and pain avoidance – so that might lead you to a job that you’ll find easy and makes you happy. Eudemonic wellbeing is more associated with focus on meaning and self-realisation – and this becomes important as we age. We look for, ‘What’s matters to me as an individual?’”

Adele suggested this means values-oriented work that’s aligned with an individual’s self-identity becomes very important to older workers – and that sounds a lot like the “purpose” so many over-50s are looking for. Adele continued: “When we write a job description, we need to go beyond the standard tasks and responsibilities of a role. Financial rewards are part of the picture but there are lots of softer motivators. A job description should speak to the individual and what they might contribute in a meaningful way to the workplace. This is really critical for this age group.”

Adele added: “There’s another concept called generativity, coined by psychoanalyst Erik Erikson in 1950. It is a concern for establishing and guiding the next generation and this normally develops around middle-age, which he defined as 40-64. In GrandNanny, we notice how someone’s long life experience can bear positively on a young family’s dynamic, when everything is short-term and parents are juggling a million things. The guiding and mentoring approach that comes with the perspective of a longer life course is really special. Qualities such as reliability, steadiness, consideration and perspective come through life experience – you can’t really shortcut to those. There are roles in all businesses where an older person with decades of experience can create a level of calm.”

Conclusion: Over-50s are looking for roles that reflect their values – salary is often not the most important factor.

Budget Launch of Returnerships for Older Workers

The Chancellor launched a new apprenticeship scheme aimed at the over-50s, that he called Returnerships. Sabine noted: “I think employers have become a little frustrated with the Apprenticeship Levy. Trade bodies have suggested the current system is largely symbolic and costs a lot of money, without meeting any of the needs. And it’s not attractive to older candidates. The Returnership scheme is clearly packaged for the over-50s cohort.

“I think Returnerships will be a fantastic option for older workers who want to learn new skills to get into a new area of work or where minor re-skilling is needed to fill some small skill gap. But what information do employers need to make Returnerships workable? I strongly encourage employers to engage with the Government on how this is working or not working for you.”

You can do this through 55/Redefined and we will relay your experience to Government. Contact us here and let us know what policy makers need to do in order to make Returnerships work properly.

Conclusion: Returnerships could be a great way to help the over-50s find work, but the Government will need industry feedback and help.

Is the Midlife MOT Announced in The Budget Fit for Purpose?

In concept, a process that encourages people to plan for later life is a good thing. That is the stated aim of the Midlife MOT: “To help individuals take stock of their finances and wellbeing to prepare for a more secure retirement.”

Lyndsey remained sceptical of the initiative. “It’s disappointing. The focus is delivery through Job Centre networks – and that is flawed. Everyone we’ve spoken to from Brave Starts to Enterprise Nation to the Centre for Better Ageing say Job Centres are not the route for the over-50s. They do not go to Job Centres often. And there is no national solution, it is all regional. So, depending on where you are based, there will be a completely different product, a completely different service, a completely different mechanism of engaging with it. The Government is not going to solve this problem – the HR industry is going to have to step in. and provide better support, I’m afraid.”

Conclusion: It will be challenging to launch Midlife MOTs as currently envisaged. The HR sector will probably have to provide this itself.

Age-Inclusive Policies Beyond the Budget

Within the Budget document, Sabine said there were a few “nuggets showing how the Government wants to continue engaging with business in order to understand this better.” For example, the Government acknowledges that employees have to balance work commitments and personal circumstances, such as parenting, caring and so on. This is part of the flexibility that over-50s want and need. So, the Government will launch a call for evidence this summer, plus they’ve also provided additional funding for pilots and evaluations over 2023-24, and 2024-25. They want to keep building the evidence base on what works, in order to create some of their desired outcomes. 55/Redefined can help you provide that feedback to Government – contact us here and tell us what your thoughts are.

Conclusion: The Government needs our help and is willing to listen. 55/Redefined can be your channel to Government

Five Brilliant Fringe Conversations at Age Pioneers

1. Adele’s Tips for Interviewing the Over-50s: “Mature candidates can be less upfront about their capabilities, especially women. We have found the best way is to take a more conversational and coaching approach during the interview process. Firstly, provide basic interview questions upfront – there’s no benefit to somebody not being well prepared for an interview. Then, start with very broad questions, such as ‘Talk me through your experiences’ or ‘Tell me what attracted you to this role’. As that person’s story unfolds, we go much deeper and discover the hidden skills and experiences that make them resilient and a strong candidate."

2. What Are the Terms on Your Care Leave Policy? Lyndsey revealed that many businesses feel they have a great Care Leave Policy but, in reality, it’s doesn’t fit over-50s’ needs. For example: “The policy says you are only eligible for care leave if the person you’re caring for is under the same household address as the employee. How many of us live with our elderly parents? Or grandchildren?” These are the people over-50s are often caring for. If you want advice on your organisation’s policies, contact 55/Redefined and book an Age Diagnostic Review.

3. The One Question You Shouldn’t Ask! “We’ve outlawed the question, ‘When are you going to start a family?’ Adele noted. “Quite rightly, because it’s a matter of personal choice and preference. So why do people think they can ask, ‘When are you going to retire?’ For some it may be a need to work, for others it may be simply because they want to. It’s a personal choice and we need to recognise that.”

4. Recruitment Campaigns with 55/Redefined. Older workers can feel hesitant about applying for jobs online. Using proprietary data, sector insight and learnings from e-commerce, 55/Redefined has created bespoke, online, nurture programmes that help employers uncover an over-50s audience. The process gently leads over-50s through a sequence of events that will provide an employer with a long list of names, email addresses, contact numbers and more of potential candidates. It’s not service we’ve seen anywhere else and it’s proving extremely effective. Contact us for more details on how to turbo boost your recruitment campaigns.

5. Tap into Noon’s Talent Pool. 55/Redefined has partnered with Noon, to amplify its career pages. Noon’s audience is professional midlife women, with extraordinary experience, who are looking for their next challenge. It’s another great resource employers can use to uncover the perfect older candidate.

Age Pioneers is Sponsored by Join Talent

A huge thank you to Join Talent for their continued sponsorship of Age Pioneers. Join Talent is a recruitment and talent acquisition consultancy specialising in helping tech, product and digital teams. It is one the fastest growing companies in Europe – 13th place in the 2023 Financial Times 1000 Fastest Growing European Companies. It is also the youngest company on the list. Follow Join Talent on LinkedIn

The Action Panel privately discussed these points following the speakers Q&A which is not recorded. To be part of this confidential conversation, get in touch HERE. Missed a session? Access previous recordings and articles HERE.