What’s happening to your over-50s workforce?

This week, we’re focusing on an aspect of the ‘S’ in ESG. I’m sharing an article by John Lewis chair Dame Sharon White about the over-50s workforce – a piece that has stirred some debate on LinkedIn. It caught my eye as I fall into this age category and it could be just as relevant to you or someone around you.

Click here to read the article.

Around one million people, mostly in the over-50s age group, have left the workforce since the pandemic began. As a knock-on effect, businesses lose:
• knowledge and experience they would have passed onto younger workers
• time and money hiring and onboarding replacements
• customers and opportunities because of stretched teams

So how we do encourage the over-50s still in their jobs to stay, and those who have left to come back?

Covid has given us a taste of what life without work – or with less work – can be. Some love it, others don’t. The reality is that not everyone wants or can afford to retire early. This is especially true in the current economy in which pension savings have taken a hit.

Once the honeymoon period of spending time with the family, going on a long-awaited holiday or catching up with DIY is over, some early retirees get bored. They start missing the human interaction and look for ways to work again, preferably paid. They effectively ‘unretire’.

To avoid losing your over-50s employees, or to coax retirees back, you could try:
• finding out what they want to do before they leave
• offering a change: fewer hours, a hybrid or remote setup, a different role
• giving them fewer responsibilities

To the last point, my recently retired friend Shaun told me “I want a job without a work email.” He no longer wants to be enslaved to his inbox and is happy to consider a far less demanding role than his last job, for less money.

In her article, Dame Sharon White says this mass exit of staff is fuelling wage inflation. In my view, this is not the only problem. A high number of vacancies offering unliveable starting wages, little investment in staff development, and a lack of succession planning are all contributing factors.

Covid has certainly changed the way I now work:
• prioritising clients who have a genuine interest in aligning their HR strategy to their sustainability agenda. They understand there is no future to their business if they don’t look after their people.
• reaching more clients from other parts of the UK and around the world remotely, something I found difficult to do in person before.
• balancing my client work with my pro bono Responsible Reward activities. It’s important to me to continue sharing insights with the HR and investor community on this hot and complex topic.

While one million experienced people have left the employment market, you still need to do your Reward work. Consider your options:
• Prioritise your projects: what needs to be done, delegated, or ditched
• Upskill your team so they become more knowledgeable and efficient
• Outsource

I can help with all three. If you’d like to find out how we can together, do get in touch.

Remember that by linking your and your portfolio companies’ sustainability and remuneration strategies (base pay, benefits, incentives and pension), you become an employer, an investment and an investor of choice.