Research from RSM UK’s latest ‘The Real Economy Report’ shows that well over three quarters (82%) of businesses have no initiatives in place to encourage older or retired workers back into the workplace. 

This comes despite the government’s recent efforts in the Spring Budget to get over 50s back to work. With many businesses facing staffing and skills shortages, failing to target the older generation means they may be overlooking a key solution to help ease labour shortages. 

RSM’s research also reveals that nearly a third of businesses (30%) do not currently offer flexible working patterns to encourage those with caring responsibilities back into the workplace. RSM says this not only puts some jobs roles out of reach for these individuals, but businesses risk losing out on skilled and experienced workers. 

Working practices also appear to be shifting post-pandemic. In the latest U-turn on hybrid working, businesses are pushing for employees to return to the office, while the chancellor recently expressed his views that the office should be the “default” location for workers. 

According to the report, over half (52%) of businesses who currently offer hybrid working options have asked their employees to return to the office for a minimum number of days/hours per week in the last 12 months and around a third (32%) plan to do so in the next 12 months. In addition, nearly half (42%) have asked their employees to return to the workplace full time in the last 12 months, and 30% plan to in the coming 12 months. 

While the emphasis on getting workers back into the workplace is being driven by the desire to improve productivity levels (33%) and promote collaboration/teamwork (15%), this could be a major disincentive to those who require flexibility, such as those with children or caring responsibilities. This sentiment is echoed in separate research which found almost four million employees have changed profession in the last year due to a lack of flexible working options. 

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RSM UK associate director, Deborah Payne, said: “Our research suggests that businesses struggling with recruitment and retention issues may not be making the most of the potential labour market. While some employers are keen to bring employees back into the workplace to increase productivity, the tight labour market means employees have the upper hand and are more able to demand a better employment proposition. If they’re not happy with what businesses are offering, they’ll simply look elsewhere. It’s therefore more important than ever that employers take a holistic approach when providing flexible and hybrid working options for their employees. A healthy work-life balance, along with a competitive salary and benefits package are also often top of the priority list. 

“Given the various economic challenges and pressures that businesses are currently facing, attracting older workers back into the workplace may not have been at the top of their agenda, but it’s important not to overlook what they’re able to bring to the team. Having a mix of generations and encouraging cross-collaboration, where everyone contributes will benefit the whole team.”