Older 50s in the workplace - retain, retrain and recruit

Rachael Saunders, Business in the Community Age at Work Director shares an insight into the Ministerial Roundtable held on Monday 21 March where a discussion on the current activity on the Business in the Community Age campaign workstreams took place together with an indepth look at the new research launched today (22 March) by Aviva. 


Andy Briggs, CEO of Aviva UK&I Life, chair of the Business in the Community’s age at work leadership team:

Aviva research 'Working Lives' launched today tells us:

  • A third of people aged over 50 employed in the private sector are now planning to retire later than they had previously hoped, and a lack of pension savings is the main driver. 
  • 32% of employers are concerned that they will lose valuable skills if people use pension freedoms to retire early. 
  • The majority of businesses do not have plans in place to respond to staff retiring later. 

A key finding is that levels of job satisfaction are highest amongst those over 65 – there are positive drivers behind working longer, as well as financial need. 

This data was a backdrop to our discussion on Monday morning, introduced by Baroness Ros Altmann, the pensions minister who has done so much to drive change on age at work.

The Ministerial Roundtable was hosted by Andy Briggs, the CEO of Aviva UK&I Life and Chair, Business in the Community Leadership Team on age at work, where other members of the Leadership Team reported back on the activity under each of campaign’s workstreams – Retain, Retrain, and Recruit:

  • Retain. Led by Alison Robb of Nationwide Building Society, this workstream covers a broad range of interventions, from flexible working to thinking through intergenerational communications.
  • Retrain. Led by the FSCS and presented by Lawrence Churchill, this workstream is focused on how to support employers to retrain their older workers. One strand of work includes the introduction of mid-life reviews to support any conversations around retraining, and we already have a number of organisations interested in taking this forward. The second strand is working with government to ensure that training and education provision is available for those who want to switch careers in later life. Apprenticeships are a route that exist today and will certainly suit some older workers.  
  • Recruit. Co-led by Helen Webb of the Co-Operative Group and Martin Jones of Home Instead Senior Care, Martin shared progress at the Roundtable.  This workstream is focused on tackling bias in recruitment against older candidates and creating opportunities for the missing million people over 50 that face barriers to work. Addressing this bias and supporting this missing million into good jobs is key to achieving real social change. 

We had a rich debate which covered tackling health barriers to later life working, and the importance of valuing older workers as mentors, people who hold knowledge within an organisation, as well as leaders and contributors. 

The morning concluded with a clear consensus that we need to shift the debate. This is not a conversation about retirement, it is about how we make the most of the extraordinary gift of longer life, and how employers can support their people to make decisions, unencumbered by bias, discrimination or assumptions. 

We are in a period of transition on age at work, and it is leadership from business that will shape the future.