10. October 2023

Why is everyone talking about… unretirement?

Personio Pulse: This Week in HR - 3

Welcome to Personio Pulse: This Week in HR, where each week we take a look at the latest trends in the world of work, what you need to know about them and what they mean for you as an HR professional. 

This week we’re covering unretirement.

What you need to know

According to Office for National Statistics (ONS) data, a record number of over-50s in the UK are working part-time, indicating a shift in their perspectives on work and retirement. 

One quarter of workers in their 50s are working part-time, with that percentage increasing as workers approach the state pension age of 66. Overall, there’s been a 26% increase in people over 50 working part-time in the last decade. 

There may be a clear trend, but the topic isn’t quite so cut-and-dry: there are other factors that HR should keep in mind when developing any official policy on flexibility for over-50s in the workplace. 

What others are saying about it 

“Most midlifers choose more of a glide into retirement. Research continues to show this is beneficial for our health, social connections and overall wellbeing,” says Stuart Lewis, Chief Executive of Rest Less, a digital community and advocate for the over 50s.

But Chris Walsh, CEO of Wise Age, an over-50s employment support charity, identifies a key nuance impacting this demographic: “A large proportion won’t be able to get full-time jobs because of institutional ageism, particularly in recruitment. They want full-time work and they need it because of the ensuing poverty that arises because of long-term part-time working.”

What that means for you

In an ageing population where one-third of the UK workforce are over 50, age-inclusive policies are more essential than ever. Yet as employment guru Dr. Paul Redmond shared at HUG last week: “Only 8% of companies have a policy for dealing with a multigenerational workforce.”

Henriette Rice, People & Culture Specialist at Payfit, shared these key tips:

  • Facilitate part-time or from-home working arrangements if it’s something you’re able to accommodate.

  • Open up flexible retirement arrangements that allow older employers to gradually reduce their hours.

  • Promote and contribute towards ergonomic working-from-home equipment that prioritises people’s comfort, health and productivity, and that helps them to continue working for you even on a part-time basis.

  • Organise retirement planning workshops to ensure your employees have all the information they need to make the call on when to, or when not to, retire. 

And one bonus tip from us:

  • Add a minimum workweek to job descriptions. Perhaps a highly experienced part-time candidate could help your business even more than a less experienced full-time candidate.

Institutional ageism prevents many over-50s from starting a new full-time job or career — and it may be preventing your organisation from getting the benefit of great, available talent. 

What else should I read? 

That's all for this week's edition of Personio Pulse: This Week in HR. Check back next week as we continue to dissect the latest trends impacting the ways we work. 

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Anna Jager-Elliott

Anna Jager-Elliott

Anna Jager-Elliott is a Senior Content Strategist at Personio. She enjoys watching trends emerge in the world of work and writing about how they'll affect our day-to-day experiences.

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