Call for employers to value and understand older workers better

A survey from Robert Walters suggests older workers are being overlooked when it comes to promotion and that employers often don’t understand the challenges they face.

Middle aged woman standing at workplace


Employers risk losing experienced staff if they don’t understand the challenges facing older workers and value what they have to offer, according to a new report.

A Diversity & Inclusion report from recruitment consultancy Robert Walters, based on a survey of 6,000 professionals,  found two thirds of white collar workers over the age of 55 say they have been overlooked for a promotion in the last year while a third say they are not at all aware of what they need to do to receive a promotion in comparison to just 12% of Generation Z professionals.

A fifth (17%) of over 50s feel their manager doesn’t take the time to understand their personal challenges – the highest percentage of all the age groups surveyed. Over 50s say the three main challenges they face when it comes to progressing in their career are a lack of opportunities (41%), difficulty in balancing work and personal lives (33%) and lack of training (21%).

Robert Walters points out that business has seen a big exodus of over 50s since Covid, with many becoming economically inactive or seeking early retirement. The report shows that people aged 40+ are in a better position to take early retirement – with double the number of older professionals receiving higher pension contributions as a key workplace benefit compared to younger workers.

Robert Walters is warning that employers must act now to retain older workers if they want to avoid over-paying less experienced workers to fill a skills hole. In terms of what would attract older workers, it says its survey shows 55% of older workers want flexi-hours, while 40% want company pension contributions, 34% want training opportunities, 30% want bonus schemes and 32% want private health insurance.

Chris Poole, UK Managing Director at Robert Walters, says:  “Employers should be concentrating on resolving the issues deterring over-50s from work. They need to compete with the allure of early retirement and more casual work options by implementing skills-sharing schemes to help stimulate promotion opportunities for mature workers, or establishing more accessible hybrid-working options to accommodate the need for flexible working.”

“If we have learnt anything from the past few years it is the importance of employers being receptive to the needs of employees – both current and prospective. In times of economic uncertainty and a global skills shortage, we simply cannot afford to lose our most experienced and skilled mindsets.”

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