Is the cost of living crisis forcing those over 50 back to work?

  • October 17, 2022

There has been much talk of the ‘great resignation’ and the ‘great retirement’ over the past two years as swathes of over 50’s left the workforce during the Covid pandemic.

At the height of lockdown, workers over 50 were far more likely to be made redundant than younger employees, and many took this as an opportunity for early retirement. 

In some cases, this was out of choice, but in others, it was due to being unable to find suitable new roles or having health concerns about being in the workplace during Covid. In all scenarios, however, many older workers weighed up their options and decided that they were able to live comfortably enough to opt for early retirement.

Unfortunately, this situation was short-lived as the cost-of-living crisis worsened and now seems to be creating a situation where many people over 50 who had left the labour market could now be forced to return.

According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), 72% of people in their 50s would consider returning to work, with around two-thirds stating that it would be specifically for the money.

Considering the spiralling cost of average household food and energy bills, it is hardly surprising that around 25% of those surveyed in the research said they were now in a position where they would struggle to afford an unexpected expense of £850. Only 38% of people aged between 50 and 54 were still confident that they had sufficient retirement provisions to meet their needs.

The good news and the bad news

It seems that many over 50s could now be returning to the workplace, and while this may not have been what many older people had intended, it could have a positive effect on the business world. 

Pre-pandemic, the number of people aged 50+ in the labour market had steadily increased year on year, but the ‘great retirement’ saw the loss of vast amounts of knowledge and experience from the workplace as this group of often highly qualified, and senior staff members left their roles.

Bringing these individuals back into the workforce could be an excellent way for many businesses to fill skills gaps in their teams, especially in leadership roles.

The flip side, of course, is that many over 50’s have struggled to find employment since leaving their jobs, particularly those who were made redundant during Covid and therefore, it will be imperative for companies to address their D,E&I policies when it comes to age bias in their hiring processes to remove barriers to work for the older generation.

So as the ‘great retirement’ seems to be reversing, businesses who embrace the opportunity to re-employ the over 50’s could see considerable benefits in addressing their skills gaps brought about by the ongoing talent shortage and find that they have highly experienced and capable individuals willing and able to fill their vacancies. 

If you are over 50 and looking to return to work, or if you are looking to fill senior vacancies with experienced professionals, contact McGregor Boyall today and find out how our expert recruiters can help you.