How can employers attract and retain older workers?

A survey shows 51% of older workers say they need to be valued more to stay in work and highlights what else might encourage them to stay.


Older workers are tired of feeling overlooked and undervalued at work, with 48% of those considering retiring saying this is because they are fed up with their job – significantly higher than the 34% who said ill health would cause them to retire, according to a new survey.

Over a third of the workforce is over 50 and predictions are that half the UK’s adult population will be over 50 by 2030. The new survey of over 2,000 older people shows the impact of employers overlooking one of the biggest sectors of workers.

So what would attract older workers back or encourage them to work for longer? The survey found 62% of older workers said they need greater flexible working, 51% said they need to be valued more, 43% said they need higher pay and 38% said they wanted a good employer benefits package.

Work-life balance is a huge issue for older workers: 85% say what they want from work has changed since they were younger, with the most significant reason [cited by nearly three quarters] being that they want more work-life balance.

The findings come as the Government is rumoured to be considering legislating to make pension companies reach out to older workers to talk about their future plans and encourage them to consider whether they can afford not to stay in work longer. Other reports suggest the Government may be planning to offer tax breaks to companies that take greater responsibility for the health of their workers in order to get people not to quit. The proposals are part of a review by Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride on how to get economically inactive people back to work.

Mandy Garner, spokesperson for, said: “Employers should overlook older workers at their peril. This segment of workers is getting bigger every year, and there are still significant labour shortages. At the same time, older workers are considering walking away because they feel undervalued and overlooked in the workplace. We also know that some could be and have been tempted back due to the cost of living crisis, but we need to understand better what might put them off and what would make a difference.”

When asked whether they would need to return to work or could be tempted back, 37% of those who have retired said they might be tempted back, 32% said they couldn’t be enticed back and 31% said they didn’t know.

When it comes to getting back into work, ageism plays a role; a majority, 55% of workers, revealed that they have experienced ageism in the recruitment process previously. Of those who encountered ageism, 54% experienced it in the application process, 30% experienced it in job adverts, and for 33%, it was in the interview itself.

Over half [51%] want to change careers and 71% say employers do not value the soft skills gained through years of life experience. A quarter said training is prioritised for younger workers, and only 19% of older workers had been promoted in the last five years, with nearly a third feeling excluded from office social chat and events.

Garner continued: “There needs to be much more awareness of the different stages and needs in people’s working lives. Older workers feel very much undervalued and under the radar. Employers need to do more to understand and engage with this group if they want to retain them and make the most of all they have to offer.”

A toolkit for employers outlining best practices when it comes to embracing older workers is available at

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