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The widespread skills gap continues to challenge industries across the board. Organisations are re-evaluating hiring practices, investing in upskilling initiatives, and reconsidering conventional qualification requirements to address this critical issue. However, a notable departure from the workforce, particularly due to early retirements following the Covid-19 pandemic, has intensified the scarcity of skilled candidates. ONS data reinforces the emergence of “unretirement,” with 77% of adults aged 50-69 leaving their jobs earlier than expected during the pandemic. A substantial 40% of those 50 and over who left work during the pandemic now express a desire to return, underlining the potential of this age group to address labour shortages.

A report titled ‘Where Have All the Workers Gone?’ by The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee highlighted a staggering increase of 565,000 economically inactive individual’s post-pandemic. The primary reason for this exodus? Early retirements. This mass departure of skilled professionals amplifies the existing shortfall of qualified candidates, leading to prolonged unfilled vacancies.

Responding to this workforce challenge, the Department for Work and Pensions started a rapid review on workforce participation to develop strategies for reintegration. Surprisingly, new research from LinkedIn suggests an unexpected solution: a potential return to work by retirees influenced by the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The Boomerang Workforce: Retirees Consider Rejoining

The cost-of-living crisis, with soaring prices of essentials like food, fuel, and energy, is prompting retired individuals to rethink their financial strategies. LinkedIn’s research shows that three in ten retired workers are contemplating rejoining the workforce, presenting a unique opportunity for employers seeking mature, experienced, and knowledgeable candidates.

Strategies and Tailoring Approaches for Attracting Mature Workers for Successful Reintegration

Acknowledging the inevitability of an aging workforce, companies must consider the following strategies and tailored approach to attract and retain mature talent considering their unique needs and preferences:

  1. Flexibility – A significant finding from LinkedIn’s research is that 41% of retirees seek a flexible work schedule. Employers should consider offering job-sharing, part-time schedules, remote work, or non-traditional working hours to accommodate varied responsibilities, interests, and personal obligations of older workers.
  2. Improve Language around Diversity and Inclusion – Recognising that 43% of retirees expect age-related challenges in job hunting, organisations should prioritise strong diversity and inclusion initiatives. Revise job advert language, application requirements, emphasise traits like reliability and experience, avoiding age-related terms that may deter mature workers, overall inclusivity should be carefully analysed to encourage applications from a wide range of candidates.
  3. Appropriate Benefits Packages – Employee benefits packages should align with the expectations and needs of mature employees. Research by HR Magazine reveals that two-thirds of workers over 50 value flexibility and support during illness. Amid the cost-of-living crisis, companies can stand out by providing retirement benefits, offering health insurance, wellness programs, income protection, on-site care for grandchildren and other targeted benefits can enhance attraction and retention.
  4. Propose Training Opportunities – Offer training to help mature workers upskill and update their knowledge, making them competitive in the job market.
  5. Train Interviewers on Best Practices – Combat age-related assumptions during interviews by focusing on skills and experience and provide constructive feedback to mature applicants.
  6. Perfect Social Media Presence – Use social media channels to highlight a diverse and inclusive workplace, with existing team members advocating for the company’s inclusive culture.

By adopting these strategies, companies can not only address the current labour shortage but also create a workplace environment that values and attracts experienced professionals, fostering a culture of inclusion and diversity.