Four in ten over 50s who left the workforce for good during the pandemic might be tempted back if they were offered flexible working, latest data from the Office for National Statistics suggests.
Steve Butler, Punter Southall Aspire CEO and author of ‘Manage the Gap: Achieving success with intergenerational teams, urges employers to value more highly older colleagues to bring them back to employment in what he is calling the Great Return.
Steve says: “We’ve had the Great Resignation and now seem to be going through the Great Retirement when, with a new spirit, we can foster the Great Return by updating our perspective on what the over 50s can contribute to our economy in the 21st century.
“At a time when we collectively need the experience of mature colleagues in a turbulent economy, companies should be focusing on how they can retain knowledge and skills which will be invaluable.
“We know the pandemic saw a shake-out in older people leaving the workplace but this snapshot shows that just under half could be persuaded to return if business built on the widespread success of hybrid working which helped many weather the pandemic.
“It’s a fact older colleagues have to juggle demands like caring for relatives and employers who recognise this will reap the rewards in productivity, creativity and engagement. Now is the time to extend the lessons we learned during covid, not to consign them to history.”
Of the four in ten, the ONS survey, carried out last month, found more than half would change their mind to spend time with colleagues and for income but one in three cited flexible working as the most important aspect, followed by home working (18%) and consideration for caring obligations (16%).
The ONS will publish more detailed survey findings on March 14th.
Steve has published four books, including Manage the Gap: Achieving success with intergenerational teams, which looks at the impact of an ageing population on the workforce, and why companies need to focus on employees at every stage of their career, but especially older workers, who can often be overlooked.
He also co-authored a book called the Midlife Review: A guide to work, wealth and wellbeing with writer Tony Watts OBE, offering business leaders, managers and employees guidance to help them understand and support ‘midlife’ workers.
Previous data from ONS at the end of 202, showed 170,000 fewer over 50s employed compared to pre-pandemic levels, and over 50s were facing the largest number of redundancies of any age group – over 39,000 between August and October 2021[i].
And recent research from the Achievers Workforce Institute showed that the Great Resignation in the UK continues with four in ten of planning to look for new jobs in 2022[ii].