Like the Slinky toy, recruitment has seen many changes in the last 21 years.
On 3rd March we proudly celebrated our 21st anniversary. A lot has happened since England won the Rugby World Cup and Slinkies were still popular toys. We’ve seen a lot of changes in the recruitment world too. 
Right now, it’s clear that career paths are taking a new direction. That’s especially true for the over 50s. Figures show people over 50 working part time has increased by 56% in the last 21 years. The number of mature part-timers is now at a record high of 3.6million. 
This shift shows people no longer want to spend over 40 years working from nine to five and then fully retire. Instead, many are choosing to wind down to retirement, perhaps for a decade or more. 

The impact of the over-50s 

The UK has almost 9.5million over-50s in employment, making an estimated £600billion contribution to the UK economy each year. More flexible employment options could support the UK economy and help deal with the skills impact of retirement trends. 
For employers, retaining all their skill and experience in the workforce will mean taking a new view of part-time working. With the Flexible Working Act coming into effect on 6 April, there’s a lot to think about. 

The Flexible Working Act: What it means 

The Act means employees can ask for flexible working on the first day of their new job. Employers must consult employees if they intend to refuse their requests and give reasons within two months instead of three. Employees can also make two requests in 12 months instead of one allowed under the earlier rules. 

Why the over 50s want flexibility 

The Flexible After Fifty report found that nearly three-quarters of over-50s wanted to work flexibly to improve their work-life balance. A third were caregivers or wanted more personal time. 
Over-50s working from home has increased from one in 10 in 2020 to more than two in 10 in 2023. Flexitime is also becoming more popular. 
New research found that 5.3million employees over 50 could retire early. In many cases they said they were considering retirement because of their lack of modern skills. However, almost four out of ten said they might stay on if there were opportunities to learn new skills. 
A growing number of average earners can’t now enjoy their hoped-for early retirement due to inflation and family commitments. Some are facing significant shortfalls in their pension savings, so helping them stay in employment can benefit everyone. 

Finding flexible solutions 

The government can help by monitoring uptake of flexible working across different age groups when the Act comes into force. It could also provide case studies that show how flexible working for the over 50s can support retention, retraining and recruitment. Phased retirement is another option. The NHS, for example, is already promoting this approach to improve retention. This is another area where the government could provide support, especially for small and medium-sized businesses. 
At the same time, employers can help managers support flexible working for all ages and promote it when recruiting. It’s also important to recognise and value the contribution of older employees by offering new experiences and training. 
As Ascendant Recruitment enters its 22nd year we’re happy to use all our knowledge and experience to help you embrace flexible working. 
Please get in touch to discuss your job search or recruitment plans. 
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