Employers risk losing older workers without retaining knowledge according to new research

July 2023

  • 30% of workers who took part in recent research plan to retire in the next five years, yet only 11% of employers have discussed their retirement plans with them
  • Despite this, over half over employers (55%) say they are actively hiring staff over the age of 50
  • More than one in five (22%) workers say when it comes to age, staff aren’t treated equally

Employers are risking losing older workers from their workforce without retaining their knowledge or providing options for phased retirement according to new research by Hays.

In a survey of over 8,500 professionals and employers, just under a third (30%) of workers plan to retire in the next five years, yet only 11% of employers have discussed their retirement plans with them.

The research comes as findings from PWC revealed that people in the UK aged over-55 are more likely to have left work and not returned than those in other G7 countries.

Attracting over 50’s workers

Over half (57%) of professionals said flexible working opportunities would be the most important factor for them when considering a new role over the age of 50. More than two in five (42%) said retirement planning would be an important factor for them despite only 27% of employers offering this.

Overall, over half (55%) of employers say they are actively hiring staff over the age of 50, over a fifth (21%) say they aren’t whilst 24% were unsure. Currently, 42% of employers say they offer part-time working to workers over the age of 50, one in five (20%) say they offer phased retirement and 38% say they offer agile working hours.

Three in five (60%) professionals say staff are treated equally within their organisation, regardless of age, however one in five (22%) say they aren’t and 18% are unsure.

Employers missing opportunity to hold onto skills

Only 11% of employers have discussed retirement plans with workers who plan to retire in the next five years meaning many are losing out on opportunities to hold onto skills, transfer knowledge or support longer life working or reskilling. Large employers (1,000 staff or more) are even less likely to be in tune with this as only 6% are currently discussing retirement plans with workers heading for retirement.

A lack of communication is also apparent in the public sector, with only 7% of public sector employers currently having these discussions compared to 15% of private sector organisations.

Simon Winfield, CEO of Hays UK & Ireland, commented: “Despite the push to hire and retain older workers longer, employers are currently letting older workers disappear without a trace rather than supporting later life working, reskilling, and passing knowledge down.

It’s important that employers speak to their staff and check in on their plans for those who are approaching their last ten years in the workplace. Gone are the days of a rigid retirement age and instead older workers can still offer value to an organisation and work more flexibly with options such as part time working as well as reduced and agile hours.

Older workers are a pivotal, experienced part of the workforce who contribute to a more diverse organisation with breadth of ideas and strengths. Employers who can harness this and offer opportunities to reskill as well as initiatives such as reverse mentoring will not only make sure workers don’t come to a hard stop at the end of their working life, but also ensure skills gaps within their organisations don’t widen.”


About the research: The survey was conducted between 13th April and 9th May 2023 and received 8,853 responses. 3,483 responses were from employers and 5,370 responses were from professionals

Helen Flannery
Senior PR Manager
T: 020 3040 0282
M: 07548 778306

About Hays

Hays plc (the "Group") is the world’s leading specialist in workforce solutions and recruitment, such as RPO and MSP. The Group is the expert at recruiting qualified, professional and skilled people worldwide, being the market leader in the UK, Germany and Australia and one of the market leaders in Continental Europe, Latin America and Asia. The Group operates across the private and public sectors, dealing in permanent positions, contract roles and temporary assignments. As at 31 December 2022, the Group employed over 13,000 staff operating from 255 offices in 33 countries. For the year ended 30 June 2022:

  • the Group reported net fees of £1,189.4 million and operating profit of £210.1 million;
  • the Group placed around 83,750 candidates into permanent jobs and around 250,000 people into temporary roles;
  • 16% of Group net fees were generated in Australia & New Zealand, 26% in Germany, 22% in United Kingdom & Ireland and 36% in Rest of World (RoW);
  • the temporary placement business represented 55% of net fees and the permanent placement business represented 45% of net fees;
  • Technology is the Group’s largest division, with 26% of net fees, while Accountancy & Finance (14%) and Construction & Property (11%), are the next largest
  • Hays operates in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, UAE, the UK and the USA
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