Could this approach solve your recruitment problems?

With the ‘Great Resignation’ raging on, employers are going to have to get more creative in looking for talent!

One solution is looking at retired workers – although new ONS data shows they’re leaving the workforce faster than ever. So, what do you, as an employer, need to do to attract older people, with their wisdom and experience, out of early retirement or retirement and back into your employment?

The UK is experiencing an early retirement boom, with a whopping three in five people aged over 50 choosing to leave the workforce during the pandemic. The data from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) has found that the decades-long trend for employees to continue working well into their 60s and often far beyond has been reversed.

But why is this? Among the reasons cited by early retirees for quitting their jobs were coronavirus (15%), illness or disability (13%), stress or mental health reasons (10%) and simply not wanting to work anymore (11%). Additionally, 47% said they were leaving to retire from paid work, possibly indicating that they may be volunteering or accepting unpaid work.

A spokesperson from the ONS said that although retirement was a “key driver” in this migration from the employment market, the bigger issues seemed to be “around health, caring and a change in lifestyle were all important factors to consider.”

While much of the commentary around the ‘Great Resignation’ has been focused around Millennial and Generation Z cohorts moving on from roles relatively quickly for career progression and better prospects primarily, there’s no doubt that this mass exodus of older workers is also a blow to employers, who are losing years of accumulated wisdom and experience.

However, as the commentary has suggested, older workers, and particularly women, have traditionally been under-valued by employers, which as a woman in her 50’s with a lot of experience and time to give to the workplace, this is incredibly short sighted of employers if they have thought this or felt this in the past!


Many employers have historically been reluctant to hire older people, believing a young person can do the same job for less money or learn new skills more quickly than older workers. In 2019, research from AVIVA found that more than half of over-60s wanted to continue working but were concerned about ageism and lack of career progression.

Nearly one in five (19%) of those surveyed felt that younger colleagues were favoured over older generations, while the same number (19%) believed their age had become a barrier to career progression and personal development.

And their worries were not without foundation, because 20% of employers expressed concerns about their ability to manage an ageing workforce.

Knowledge and experience

But, with their wealth of knowledge and experience, older workers could actually help employers solve their ‘Great Resignation’ problem. Given the fact that these ‘Baby Boomers’ are retiring faster than younger workers are replacing them, by not hiring older workers, your business could end up losing out and in the bigger picture, this lack of experienced talent, could cause long-term damage to the economy.

Employers who are seeking to recruit older employees will need to offer a different way of working. Whilst many retirees aren’t interested in returning to work, those who are, would be looking for greater flexibility of hours, the ability to work from home and be able to fit work around other responsibilities they may have such as caring, in order to return to work.

An article in Harvard Review suggested that in order to attract older workers, employers need to do the following:

  • Give people titles and roles that reflect their expertise
  • Accommodate flexible/hybrid/remote working for certain roles
  • Look at pay equity by job and level, not length of service
  • Bring age diversity (to attract younger and older employees) into your Equality, Diversity and Inclusion programmes
  • Give older people managerial roles/roles with responsibility
  • Actively recruit older people.

How can we help?

If you are stuck for ideas on how to attract the best people to work for your business, then please get in touch as we’d be happy to see how we can help. We’ve worked with lots of clients over the years to help them to attract and retain a diverse workforce to ensure they are able to grow and meet their business goals.

You can book your free initial 30 minute consultation with one of the Meraki HR team here;