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The case of never retiring

With job vacancies in the UK stubbornly stuck at over one million, most sectors are still facing talent shortages. One contributory factor is the increasing trend of non-participation amongst the 50-64 age group. The inactivity rate for those aged 50 to 64 rose from 25.5% at the start of the pandemic to 27.2% in November to January 2023. Pre pandemic this was going in the other direction – with more 50–64-year-olds staying on to work either part or full time. The rising cost of living may have deterred some to take early retirement, but not enough to set things back to where we were pre-pandemic.

Whilst it’s quite normal for people to retire early, there are well reported wellbeing benefits to staying in work, part-time or in a less stressful role.

We ran a small survey with 150 retired individuals aged 50-64 to understand current attitudes. In line with other studies, we found that 23% of this group have considered ‘unretiring’. Some indicated that financial pressure was a reason, but others mentioned boredom, lack of purpose and staying intellectually stimulated as reasons to return. The top factors that would tempt them back are flexibility and a short commute.

Employers can attract these returners by creating roles with even greater flexibility, helping them master new technology and eroding the stigma associated about starting again in a different role. And supercharging training and development programmes so that hiring focuses on potential to learn rather than experience.

- Tristan Moakes, Strategy Director at Penna


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