Workingwise.co.uk’s annual survey was published last week and shows that a high number...read more
Amid reports of pressure to raise the state pension age, it seems clear that employer support for midlife conversations is more important than ever. So why aren’t more offering them?
I was talking to a woman who specialises in midlife career change this week. She has to do other work alongside her focus on midlife. The reason is that there are not enough employers committed to this agenda. That is despite all the recent policy focus on midlife MOTs and news yesterday that the work and pensions minister says the state pension will have to rise shortly after the next election.
The business case for employers to take midlife seriously and to provide opportunities for older workers to think about their careers and where they want to go next – which might be a career change, a move sideways, changing their working pattern or staying on the same path – is strong. It is clear we are all going to have to work for longer. It’s likely many of us will not be able to or want to continue along the same path we have been on until now. Maybe the work is too intensive, too manually demanding, maybe we have health issues, maybe we don’t, maybe we just fancy a change, maybe we want to do something that makes a difference. Whatever it is, older workers and their employers need to have the time and space to think through how they prepare for a longer working life.
Yet, even so, it doesn’t seem to be enough of a priority. Why is that? It is true we live in very uncertain economic times and employers may be reluctant or unable to take on any extra expenses. Or is it that talent teams are steeped in an unconscious ageism where talent development is all about young people and older people just don’t come to mind when considering ‘future’ talent? Those employers who do get on this agenda and are looking at developing their older talent – or even just asking them what they want – will be better prepared for a future that is not just coming down the tracks, but is already very much here.
The extension of midlife MOTs – although most will be digital only – is a good starting point, but midlife conversations need to be conducted in depth. When you get to midlife you have a lot of life experience and ideas to sort through. Being able to talk these through in a supportive atmosphere – ideally with a cohort of others who are going through similar re-evaluations – in a similar way to other transitional programmes supported by employers – for parents or returners, for instance, can be invaluable.