Workingwise.co.uk annual survey: the results

workingwise.co.uk runs an in-depth annual survey. The results show high levels of perceived ageism in the workplace, but also a huge appetite for learning and career change.

Candidates waiting for an interview

 

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workingwise.co.uk runs its survey annually, but it is adapted each year to respond to current concerns and trends, such as the cost of living crisis and, this year, the impact of increased NHS waiting lists. The survey is in-depth – covering over 70 questions and looking at the experiences of those in employed or self-employed work, looking for work and not working. In total there were 1,592 respondents. Below is a breakdown of some of the key findings:

Background

38% are employed; 14% are self employed, 5% are both employed and self employed, 3% have a portfolio career and 33% are looking for a job.

Of those working: 42% work part time in some form [13% do a job share] and 58% work full time while 11% work hybrid and 12% are fully remote.

46% are supporting grown-up kids. 20% are looking after young or school-aged children. Just 27% don’t have caring responsibilities – 27% are caring for parents or older relatives while 17% care for a partner. 14% have caring responsibilities for their grandchildren. There were similar numbers of men and women in the survey.

The recruitment process

Recruitment is a big topic for workingwise.co.uk, given it is both a jobs and news site. For those who had found a job in the last five years, 17% took over seven months to find it, with 7% taking over a year. 58% felt age played a part if they encountered difficulty finding a job. Just 13% said they didn’t think age played a part. Over half had changed sectors the last time they changed jobs.

The situation does not appear to have improved much in recent years despite many surveys and studies highlighting bias in the recruitment process. For those currently looking for a job, 57% said they have encountered ageism in the recruitment process. 46% have altered their cv as a result. 

55% feel their CV/application has been sidelined because of their age; 35% felt they encountered ageism in the interview process; and 24% said the way the job was worded or presented was age-biased. Job searching also appears to have got more difficult: 21% of those looking for a job had been looking for work for over a year and 13% for 7 to 12 months. 71% said the length of time they had been looking had affected their confidence.What’s more, 55% felt Artificial Intelligence would make it harder for older workers to find a job. 

Workingwise.co.uk and workingmums.co.uk did a snap poll earlier in the year about AI, and older workers were significantly more likely to be concerned about the implications of AI for their ability to find work, with 27% saying they were very worried, compared to 23% of mums, with an additional 44% saying they were quite worried compared to 31% of mums.

Employment

The survey looked at the experience of those who are currently employed.  Most – 67% – would recommend their employer to other older workers. However, nearly a quarter said their employer was bad or not great.

A large number want to take early retirement, mainly due to health reasons. 68% said they would like to retire early, but 69% who would like to take early retirement can’t afford to. For 38% this was due to health reasons; for 26%, however,  dissatisfaction with their job was the main reason. The same percentage – 26% – wanted to leave work early due to their caring responsibilities. 

While the Government is looking at occupational health support and has launched support programmes to get people back to work who have health issues, the figures suggest a large number of employees could do with an opportunity to talk through the work they are doing and to do so before they get to the point where they are so dissatisfied that they want to leave their job. 

Related to job dissatisfaction is a feeling of being undervalued – 49% of older workers say they feel their life experience is not valued by their employer.

Another issue that may contribute to job dissatisfaction is work culture. 41% of those who are employed have felt excluded at work due to their age, for instance, being left out of social gatherings or office talk. While most [72%] had had  training recently, of those who hadn’t, 45% said it was because training was prioritised for younger people and 34% said it was prioritised for full time workers. 

Yet, against all the stereotypes that older people don’t want to learn new skills, 88% said they are open to learning new skills. 63% would like to change careers, mainly for a new challenge. There is clearly an appetite for change and learning.

53% said they had not been promoted in the last five years, but for most older workers career progression – in terms of linear progression – was a much less important issue than it had been previously in their working lives.

76% of all older workers said what they want from work has changed as they have aged, with a greater desire for work life balance being the main change. 55% said this, compared with 40% who said they were less focused on career progression. 

Self employment

65% of those polled have become self employed in the last three years, which is interesting in itself, given the difficulty many self employed people faced in Covid.   67% said they had had to use their savings to get through the Covid period and aftermath. 60% want to move to employed work and half said their work had been negatively impacted by Covid and the cost of living crisis, for instance, they had lost work. 

People not working

The survey also polled people who were not working. The main reasons for this were health [31% said this] and retirement [35% had retired], but 41% of those who have retired said they could be tempted back to work if the conditions were right. 

What do older workers value?

We asked all older workers what was the most important requirement for them when it comes to work: 36% said work life balance is very important. This compares to 32% who said having a job with purpose or making a difference was important or very important, 30% who valued job security highly and  25% who said salary was very important or important for them.

28% say flexible working is a deal breaker for them in a job, with work life balance the main reason.  58% would ask for flexible working from day one in a new job. 41% would like to reduce their hours and an additional 34% would like to but can’t afford to. As many as  53% would consider a job share.

Cost of living crisis

The cost of living crisis has been a huge worry for all workers this year and last. 27% of older workers said they don’t have enough for basic living expenses. 14% said they are skipping meals. 35% have turned off the heating.

To boost their income amid rising interest rates and prices, 55% are taking on more work, but 45% say this is impacting their health.

24% say they will have to come out of retirement due to the cost of living crisis and 41% say they will have to stay in work longer. 13% will have to change jobs to get more money.

50% say their mental health has deteriorated in the last year. 75% say it is due to worry about their finances.

The future

The survey asked older workers what would help them stay in work longer and flexible working came out top [47%]. 36% said salary would make the difference for them.  

30% feel very anxious about the state retirement age going up. 

Health is a big issue. 42% said they are waiting for health and social care for themselves or a dependent and 19% of these can’t work as a result while 38% have had to work reduced hours, with an impact on their pension contributions.

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