Longer working lives have become a reality for millions, yet a significant number of over-50s feel unsupported in the workplace, according to new findings from Aviva which highlight the need for UK businesses to boost support for their older workforce.

Almost two thirds (63%) of the 10.2 million over-50s in work2 – equivalent to 6.4 million people – are planning to retire later than they thought they would 10 years ago. Many of them are extending their working lives due to the rising cost of living (40%) and insufficient pension savings (38%).


Despite this, more than two fifths (44%) of people aged 50+ still in work feel unsupported by their employer when it comes to their career ambitions and objectives, compared to only 25% of those aged 25 to 34.

With a third of the UK workforce set to be aged 50+ by 2020³, businesses are being urged to increase their commitment to older employees and help them adapt to a longer working life. By failing to support their staff, employers risk creating a disheartened and discouraged over-50s workforce.

Lost opportunities: employers missing out on the talent and experience of over-50s

Aviva’s latest findings suggest employers could be missing out when it comes to the skills and experience their older workforce can offer. The study reveals that those aged 50+ are more confident about their ability to keep up at work (41%) and their relevant skillset (37%) than their younger counterparts (36% and 33% for those aged between 25 to 34).

Extending working lives not yet matched by extended support

The pensions and retirement landscape has changed considerably in recent years since the Default Retirement Age was abolished in 2011. The number of workers aged 50+ has increased by 20% since 20124; the state pension age has been under regular review and is currently set to rise to 68 by 2037; and major retirement reforms have been introduced, including the ‘pension freedoms’ in 2015.

Despite UK employees working longer than ever before, Aviva’s research suggests that progress in the workplace – in terms of the forms of support offered to this older generation – has been slow.

Factors such as the ability to work flexitime have only increased slightly from 12% in 2012 to 14% in 2018. However, access to other forms of workplace support – including guidance on retirement finances – has remained static.

To help tackle the issue of workplace support for longer working lives, Aviva recently piloted a Mid-Life MOT with its employees to help them consider the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in their work, wealth and wellbeing as they get older. Aviva will use the findings from this pilot to help inform discussions with government and the business community about how best to support UK employees more broadly, beyond the age of 50.

Lindsey Rix, Managing Director, Savings and Retirement at Aviva commented:

“Millions of people are facing up to the realities of longer working lives on a daily basis. Working for longer brings opportunities and challenges in many areas of life, which means that supporting staff beyond the age of 50 has to become about much more than just financial planning.

“Our findings suggest that older employees have a lot to offer at work, despite the challenges they face around workplace support. To make the most of this, employers need to provide rounded support for this generation where their wellbeing and work-related needs are considered alongside the financial challenge of saving for retirement.

“We recently piloted a Mid-Life MOT within Aviva for some staff to help give them a greater sense of clarity and control over the choices they face beyond 50. We urge government, employers and industry to work together to encourage people to sustain longer, productive and healthy working lives while considering their financial position.

“Our ambition is to help create the right conditions for people to see opportunities through the uncertainties that come with longer working lives, so they can continue to progress at work and lead fulfilling careers, regardless of their age.”

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