Mid-life MOTs: the way forward for older workers?

Mid-life MOTs are a good way to check how your older workforce feel about their careers, reports Lucie Mitchell.

Group of varying age women sitting chatting and smiling


With many employees facing a rising retirement age, employers are becoming increasingly aware of the need to support their workers in mid-life, to enable them to work for longer, prepare for retirement and look after their health and wellbeing.

In an independent review of the State Pension age in 2017, John Cridland, former Director-General of the Confederation of British Industry, suggested that people be offered mid-life MOTs to help those in their 40s, 50s and 60s to make positive and realistic choices about their work, finances, health and retirement, and enable them to successfully plan and prepare for their future.

“Many of us haven’t thought much about our hopes or ambitions for life after age 60; retirement can be a difficult transition for many people; and about 12 million people are likely to have insufficient income in retirement,” remarks Dr Aideen Young, evidence manager at the Centre for Ageing Better. “That’s why it’s important to engage with people in a sustained and holistic way to help them get their finances in order, think about their health and emotional wellbeing, and plan for future career changes or other life transitions.”

Retaining older workers

From an employer’s perspective, mid-life MOTs can also help to enhance their employer brand, as well as engage and retain older workers.

“For employers, the big benefit is that they can hold on to the skills and experiences of older workers, deploy their staff more effectively, and benefit from an age-diverse workforce,” comments Young.

Kate Palmer, associate director of advisory at Peninsula, adds: “Mid-life MOTs also stand to reduce the burden placed on payroll and HR, as these departments can often be overrun with urgent pension-related questions when an individual nears their eventual retirement date.”

The Centre for Ageing Better published a report on mid-life MOTs in 2018, in which they set out some key considerations for anyone thinking of offering mid-life MOTs:

  • Know your target audience
  • ‘Age’ is not a fixed concept
  • There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ for delivery
  • Keep the content focused
  • The mid-life MOT is a process not a one-off event.

One organisation that offers mid-life MOTs is Aviva. After a pilot scheme in 2018, it now provides face-to-face MOT sessions to all staff aged over 45, on a first come, first served basis.

“Around one in three of our employees in the UK are aged 45 and over, plus it’s actually our fastest growing age group,” comments Alistair McQueen, head of savings and retirement at Aviva. “But when we spoke to those people, we found that a third believed age could be a barrier to opportunity, so we decided to develop a support plan specifically for this demographic. The result of this work was the mid-life MOT.”

The sessions aim to support employees in all aspects of their lives and therefore focus on health, wealth and work. Employees can speak to experts from Aviva’s financial adviser team, as well as the wellbeing team and the HR function, to access support and advice.

“The MOT sessions involve experts from within Aviva speaking to the groups, encouraging them to take part in exercises and really think about their life right now, and what they want their life to be like in the future,” explains McQueen.

A clear purpose

Ahead of launching the scheme, Aviva spent a great deal of time researching which demographic needed this kind of support, and how the organisation was going to resource the MOT. “It is a big commitment to give hundreds of employees time off to attend sessions, so we needed to create a business case to support the MOT,” remarks McQueen.

He adds that the MOT has actually exceeded their expectations. “Demand has been huge, and early results show a 10% uplift in individual’s confidence, awareness of where to seek help, and appreciation of Aviva as an employer. We see the MOT as a win for our people and a win for Aviva.”

Although Aviva included health, wealth and work in their mid-life MOT, it is recommended that organisations ensure they tailor their offering to their audience. “It really depends on the organisation and the needs of the employees,” comments Young. “Some mid-life MOTs may be practically focussed, while others may take a broad, holistic approach that
encompasses psychological wellbeing as the foundation that enables planning in other spheres. The content and approach can vary – the important thing is that mid-life MOTs have a clear purpose that is understood by all stakeholders and participants, and that employers identify or develop the mid-life MOT that works for them and their employees.”

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