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Insights from the ONS Over-50s Lifestyle Study

Research showed that 4 in 10 over-50s who left their job during the pandemic show willingness to return

Last month we reported that employment experts estimated that there are now approximately 600,000 fewer over-50s in work, or seeking to find employment, compared to pre-Covid trends.

Since the start of the pandemic nearly a quarter of a million workers aged between 50 and 65 have left employment altogether. This extraordinary surge in the number of older people dropping out of the workforce puts further pressure on the economy, exacerbates post-Covid shortages in the labour market and pushes up wage inflation. This trend also means that some people may draw down their pension early and live off the income.

Today the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released “Early insights from the Over 50s Lifestyle Study, Great Britain: 1 March 2022” looking at attitudes and reasons behind those aged 50 to 70 years who left the labour market at some point in 2021.

Shedding light on the reasons why over-50s left work in such high numbers during this period, the ONS says: “15% left paid work because of the coronavirus pandemic, 13% left because of illness or disability, and 10% left because of stress or mental health reasons.

11% left because they did not want to work anymore, with 10% reporting to leave for a change in lifestyle. Retirement (47%) was the most common reason for leaving paid work, with those aged 60 years and over twice as likely (56%) to give this reason than those aged 50 to 59 years (28%).”

The statistics also show that there is a real appetite among 50 to 70 years olds to return to the workforce in the future:

· Around 4 in 10 (39%) said they would consider returning to paid work in the future.

· Of these adults, 54% said they would return for social company or a job they enjoyed, 52% would return for the money, and 45% would return for a job that suited their skills and experience.

· 36% cited flexible working as the most important aspect of choosing a new job, followed by working from home (18%) and something that fits around caring responsibilities (16%).

“When asked what would encourage these adults to return to work,” the study reads, “reasons included being able to work from home (10%), flexible working hours (9%) and a job that fits around caring responsibilities (4%).”

“It is the collective roles of businesses and employers to create new types of work to encourage this talent pool back into our workforce,” says Gina Poole, Head of Workplace Solutions at 55/Redefined.

At 55/Redefined we are speaking to a growing number of employers and organisations that say they are very keen to access this talent pool due to the dedication of employees in this demographic.

“More needs to be done on a wider scale to support this age group back into market. Our work and research show a lack of L&D opportunities, ability to work flexibly, change role, not just a promotion, points to the fact that a huge part of the problem is that older workers feel overlooked. The challenges we come up against are not just around attraction, but also changing the employer’s strategy around retention of employees in this cohort,” says Gina.

As a starting point to combat this, 55/Redefined provide a diagnostic solution to identify key ‘hot spots’ in an organisation where attraction and retention of older workers may be an issue. Outcomes include a cross-functional action plan to support businesses to become an Age Inclusive Employer and set out a clear vision of what Age Inclusivity means for the organisation.

If you would like to learn more about Workplace Solutions, please get in touch with Gina Poole or Rachel Langton here.