Published: 01 Jul 2022
Updated: 27 Sep 2022
Category: Career Development , Human Resources , Flexible Workspace

From 'The Great Resignation' to unretirement: How to capture the mature workforce by offering agile working?

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During the height of the pandemic, global labour markets started to experience a great shift. More workers were choosing to leave their jobs to find more meaningful employment, or to explore a more flexible lifestyle outside of their typical 9–5’s.

These changes were largely spurred on by the pandemic, which saw many of us confined to our homes and forced to work remotely – which for some was positive, and for others an extremely negative switch.

Since spring 2021 when ‘The Great Resignation’ started, global labour markets are still struggling to bounce back, which leaves many companies in a precarious position.

How can we supplement the declining labour force? How can we attract the “unretirement” to return?

In this article, we’ll be taking you through the changes that have been felt due to The Great Resignation and how can we attract the unretirement back to work by offering agile working, as a supplement workforce.

 

How has 'The Great Resignation' affected the workforce?

'The Great Resignation’ has a very big impact on the global workforce. According to a Microsoft survey [1], 41% of workers across the globe are currently considering leaving their jobs. 

It’s mainly the Gen Z and Millennial generations that feel most underappreciated, burnt out, and unfulfilled with their jobs, with 77% of Gen Z and 63% of millennials planning to switch jobs in the next 12 months. This is compared to just 33% of the baby boomer workforce generation who are planning to do the same.

Although the workforce in the Western world is among the most likely to quit their jobs, this is a trend that’s being replicated around the world. In Malaysia, around 61% of employees are planning to find a new job this year [2].

Similarly, in Singapore, 62% of SMEs say that more staff are resigning now than they did a year ago [3], proving that this is a worldwide issue that is causing many employers to struggle to fill positions.


The unretirement group is a promising new workforce

One section of the workforce that many employers are starting to turn to as a solution to the impacts of “The Great Resignation” is the unretirement workforce.

Although many people may look forward to the day when they can retire and give up working for a life of rest and relaxation, many older workers are starting to return to the workforce, and the unique group possesses certain traits that could be beneficial to enterprises, like their experience, well-trained skills, or a critical mind, and so forth.  

In fact, the number of retirement-age workers in America has doubled from 10% in 1985 to 20% in recent years [4], which is a trend that’s being replicated across the globe.

 

Why is offering agile working promising to attract the mature workforce?

If employers want to start to attract the new surge of unretirement workers, they may have to rethink some of the typical strategies they use to attract younger workers and understanding the expectations of the unretirement workers, and below are some of the points.

Work-Life Balance

“Live to work” is less welcome among the unretirement workforce when compared to the younger workforce.  Long-working hours or overtime are not ideal for them, or they are not willing to take a long-hour ride to commute. They would rather prefer to spend more time with their family, work-life balance is important to them.

Self-Satisfaction

Instead of earning a high salary rate, self-satisfaction is more important to the unretirement workforce, as they are more likely to have a deep understanding of their own needs and goals. On the other hand, as the mature workforce is experienced, micro-management could be an advert policy for them.  Employers letting them make their own decisions and finish their work in their own way are more welcome. 

Less Commute Time

Unlike the younger worker, as they are aging, a long traffic journey could be very exhausting for the mature workforce, a work location nearby their living place or remote working could be a huge plus for them.

After understanding the needs of the older generations are very different from those of the younger workforce, we can tell the flexibility of work is the crucial part for them to return to the labour market, and agile working provides a great extent of flexibility at the workplace, in terms of time, location, or the way of work.

Agile working allows the unretirement worker to make their own decisions, achieve their self-satisfaction, and work-life balance, and spend less time commuting. They can spend more time with their families at home or have a half-day off without following the 9–5 working hours, this is a huge plus for the mature workers.

Moreover, more companies are starting to embrace the older generation and adopt a more age-inclusive workplace. Like HIII, PNC, and AT&T, they encourage cross-generational mentorship programs that foster the transfer of skills and knowledge between different generations of workers.

Brands like Mars and Vodafone have also introduced 12-week, paid ‘returnships’ that offer training programs targeted specifically at the unretirement generation. This gives retirees the opportunity to receive coaching and work on professional assignments that will ease them back into work.

As more companies start to embrace the benefits that come with employing a diverse workforce full of a variety of generations, the boom in unretirement is expected to continue growing.

 

How to make the most out of the unretirement workforce

While the labour force has shifted, people’s approaches to work have also changed significantly since the pandemic and ‘The Great Resignation’.

In order to facilitate the unretirement workforce, employers are left with two main working strategies they can adopt.

Hybrid working

Hybrid working strategies consist of employees spending some of their time in the office and some of their time at home.

This flexible working approach may sound good in theory, but in practice, it can cause more feelings of stress – especially in older workers.

Not having a ‘home base’ or permanent desk where you can work every day can lead to decreased motivation and productivity, so hybrid working may not always be the desired solution.

Remote working 

More of the older generation are starting to realise the benefits that come with remote working. Not only does this way of agile working get rid of long commutes, but it also helps employees to foster a healthier work-life balance.

Remote working also doesn’t have to mean sitting in your bedroom all day, but it’s about giving your employees the flexibility and freedom to choose where they work. This could be working from their home some days or working in flexible workspaces.

For many employers and employees, remote and flexible working  is the preferred outcome as it gives them a sense of autonomy and freedom over their work and can help fuel their motivation.

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