Support increases for retaining older workers

A new survey from Aviva finds one in 10 employers have introduced initiative for retaining older workers for the first time in the last year, with over three quarters thinking retention is important.

Older man being instructed while doing work on a monitor in an office


Wayne Kelly is 52 years old and is an apprentice at Aviva. Wayne, who lives in Norwich and is a senior project manager, joined the scheme in 2021 after nearly 30 years at Aviva and after being diagnosed with diabetes.

He says his diagnosis has made him think about his lifestyle and about the need for more work life balance. He states: “I decided to join the Aviva apprenticeship scheme to get a complete refresh of my IT technical knowledge. I also wanted another string to my bow, in terms of my career, and I wanted to add value to Aviva. Having new IT skills is helping to evolve my career, and I’m hoping to start mentoring others.”

Aviva is one of a growing number of employers looking to retain older workers.  Its new report, Working Lives Report 2023: Fit for Future , out today, shows over three quarters of employers think it is important to retain employees over 50, with nearly a third saying it is very important. Ten per cent have introduced support for the first time in the last year.

Support for retaining older workers

The support for retaining employees aged over 50 years old is higher than that introduced for new initiatives on diversity, equity and inclusion [9%], LGBTIQ+ [7%], neurodiverse employees [7%] and fertility [5%].  It includes not only apprenticeship programmes, but mid-life MOTs, job-sharing and opportunities for ‘part-tirement’ – semi or partial retirement. Six per cent of employers have also introduced support for women with menopause symptoms.

The report comes after nearly a year of headlines about older people dropping out of the workforce during the pandemic and the Spring Budget which included £70 million investment in support for over-50s staying in or getting back to work.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) also did a study into 50 to 65 year olds who left or lost their job since the start of the pandemic and would now consider returning to work. The most important factors when choosing a paid job were flexible working hours (32%), good pay (23%), and being able to work from home (12%).

The ONS also found that over 50s with a physical or mental health condition or illness who would consider returning to work, would do so for the money (67%), and second to that, for the social company or a job they would enjoy (46%).


Debbie Bullock, Head of Wellbeing at Aviva, said: “It is commonly felt that careers should follow a linear upward trajectory, moving up the ranks with age. However, it seems some older workers also value flexibility, the social company, enjoyment and general wellbeing that comes with a job, rather than fulfilling promotion aspirations.

“It is time to break down the taboo that career success necessarily means promotion, especially in later working lives. Employers have a role in encouraging their people to use their skills in less pressurised roles and jobs they enjoy. Apprenticeships are not just for the young and are another way to reskill older workers into alternative roles.

“Staying in work and coming back to work has some clear benefits for older workers besides the financial security, which they appear to recognise. The social aspect of work and the act of going to work can contribute to improved mental and physical health. Aside from the positive implications for individuals, it has potential benefits for society and the economy.”


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