Over the course of the pandemic, older employees left their jobs in droves at a startling rate – coined by some as the “silver exodus.” This was due to feeling burned out, a lack of job purpose and satisfaction, and feeling taken for granted.
However, we are now seeing a rise in these silver workers who had previously left their jobs, returning to work in the search for greater financial security and mental wellbeing.
One reason is Brits are facing increased financial pressures in the face of the cost-of-living crisis, which has led to heightened levels of stress. Our Mental Health Index found that 30% of Brits feel that their mental health has declined since the pandemic and those without emergency savings are 60% more likely to report that the pandemic has negatively impacted their ongoing mental health – showing the strong connection between financial and mental wellbeing.
So, how can employers ensure their company culture is inclusive to silver workers and ease their return to the workforce?
Firstly, silver workers bring with them a wealth of skills, experience and knowledge and it provides an opportunity for employers in this tight labour market to restore their workforces.
To unleash the potential in silver workers returning to the workforce, it is important that employers consider how to make them feel welcome and valued. All workers should feel included and accepted in their workplaces and inclusiveness is not only relevant for gender identity, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation but also age. We have four generations in one workplace, which brings unique opportunities for collaboration. This heavily relies on creating and cultivating an effective company culture and is a fundamental component that retirees will be focusing on when considering their employment choices.
To ensure that your company culture is inclusive, employers need to look inwardly in the first instance and look at their current wellbeing program to assess if they are doing enough to support their employees in every age group. Companies should also bear in mind that support can easily be tailored to the individual if the culture is one where two-way dialogue and flexibility are valued. In hiring and onboarding, it is important to recognize that re-entering the workforce can be stressful, even when someone has significant experience.
Inclusivity, including age inclusivity, should also be a part of every company framework, ensuring that manager training includes this and is represented from the top down. All employees want to work in an environment where they feel they can be honest and open with their colleagues and managers; this is as true for older workers as it is for younger ones.
Organizations also have an onus to consider why silver workers are returning to work. The difficult economic climate consisting of higher inflation and declining investment value means workers are now looking to their employers for benefits and financial programmes – something that silver workers are often savvier in recognising the value of, and therefore more likely to consider them in employment decisions.
Programmes such as an employers’ saving program, discounted travel and subsidized food schemes do not only act as a motivator for employees but will help alleviate some of the financial pressures which are impacting employees’ mental health and wellbeing.
Educational programmes can also prove effective in advising employees and for silver workers, tailored programmes on retirement funds and pensions would help reduce concerns and stress around economic uncertainty and personal finance.
Employers should also look to support older workers through offering flexible working. Having been out of the workforce for a while, returning to a highly controlled environment may seem unattractive. By offering flexible working, employers can help ease the transition for older workers and enable them to prioritise their wellbeing and other commitments.
Just as many companies had to work quickly to deal with the challenges of the ‘Great Resignation’ and evaluate how they attracted and retained talent, there needs to be the same level of focus on how to welcome silver workers back to the workplace. This heavily relies on creating and cultivating an effective company culture and is a fundamental component that retirees will be focusing on when considering their employment choices. Making this transition as seamless and supportive as possible is not only crucial for employees’ wellbeing but critical to the overall productivity of the workforce.