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Employers failing to prepare for retirement, research finds

Almost 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, according to exclusive research from recruitment agency Hays.

Large employers (1,000 staff or more) are less likely than smaller firms to be in tune with retiring staff as only 6% said they are currently discussing retirement plans with workers heading for retirement.

Just 7% of public sector employers were currently having these discussions compared with 15% of private sector organisations.

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Simon Winfield, CEO of Hays UK and Ireland, said employers are failing to retain knowledge from older workers by not preparing for retirement.

Speaking to HR magazine, he said: “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 10 years in the workplace.”

Winfield said a phased retirement can allow older workers to pass on training and make a smoother transfer to their successor.

He said: “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.”

Over half of employers (55%) said they are actively hiring staff over the age of 50.

Flexible working would be the most important factor for 57% of over-50s considering a new role, and is offered by 42% of employers.

This is followed by retirement planning (42%), despite only 27% of employers offering this.

One in five (20%) employers say they offer phased retirement and 38% say they offer agile working hours.

Winfield said employers who provide necessary support to older candidates will create a stronger workforce.

He said: “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.”

The survey was conducted between 13 April and May 2023 and received 8,853 responses, 3,483 from employers and 5,370 from professionals.