Why businesses need to prepare for re’hire’ment, not retirement

Alaana Linney, Commercial Director, Bupa Health Clinics 

Older business man and woman on laptop, supporting older workersShigeru Miyamoto is a Japanese video game producer famed for creating Nintendo’s Mario character. He is also a 67-year-old business leader showing no interest in retirement. 

And he’s not alone. Take Vogue editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour; a healthy 70-year-old who is refusing to answer questions about her retirement plans.

Contrary to the belief that senior business people in high profile roles retire at 40, a new trend is emerging. Driven by a desire to work, senior leaders at the top of their game are seeing retirement as an opportunity to rehire rather than retire.

A recent study by Bupa Health Clinics found that almost half of senior level execs will choose to continue working beyond the age of 66 years – the current state pension age in the UK. And it’s because they want to, not because they have to.

Of course, it isn’t only senior managers who are continuing to work past retirement age, there are people from all levels who decide to do the same, whether this is for financial gain or to top up the pension pot for when they do decide to retire.

Regardless of whether the motives are financial, or simply because people love their work, everyone should have the choice – and health – to continue their careers, should they wish to.

It’s about ensuring employees, not just the C-suite, have access to choice, by creating environments where people can excel in their roles irrespective of age. Business leaders must ask themselves whether they are supporting the wellbeing of their employees now, and for the future. And if they’re not, how can they start.

Musculoskeletal problems, such as pain in the muscles and joints and other long-term conditions, such as diabetes, are age related issues that should be considered when thinking about the health and wellbeing of employees. If the trend is to work longer then these issues must be accounted for.

Three-quarters of executive level leaders in the UK say that businesses need to adopt a culture of age acceptance and make an investment in the health of the workforce on a long-term basis.  It’s not just for the individual’s benefit, but also for businesses themselves.

Contrary to the attitudes of many current businesses, age is something that is invaluable to an organisation. Allowing employees to work beyond the normal retirement age if they choose to, means businesses are retaining valuable experience, knowledge, familiarity and corporate history that may otherwise be lost.

For the individual, choosing to work longer can have a multitude of benefits on their physical and mental health, including confidence, a social environment and staying on top of their mental health.

Everybody stands to gain here. Business leaders protect the value of an ageing workforce; employees have the health to match their appetite for working later in life; and organisations benefit from the engagement of a diverse workforce that can see an employer making a clear commitment to inclusivity.

Here are three ways businesses could start preparing the UK workforce to re-hire, instead of retire:

Invest in health

Whether it’s offering subsidised gym memberships, annual health assessments or designing offices to improve our wellbeing, good health for all employees should be on top of the agenda. Demonstrating a commitment to health supports employees to stay well and in work for longer.

Adopt an age acceptance culture

Irrespective of an employee’s stage of life create an environment that allows them to thrive. Throw opportunities at them and continue to offer advice which will allow them to grow and perform to the best of their ability.  Creating this type of environment will help businesses to attract and retain talent.

Embrace the luxury of choice

Make your workforce aware that you encourage choice. Continue to treat your older employees as you would younger ones, discuss career opportunities and development so they know you aren’t expecting them to retire. There are ways a diverse business can use the knowledge, wisdom and experience of older employees and they are an asset to the organisation that won’t have to retire at 66, if they don’t want to.

About the author

Alaana LinneyAlaana Linney has over 13 years’ commercial and operational experience, working for some of the UK’s largest healthcare providers.

As Commercial Director, Alaana is responsible for leading the development of Bupa’s Health Services business which provides health assessments, occupational health and specialist mental health services to both individual and corporate customers.  She also leads the development of Bupa’s UK wellbeing proposition and is personally involved in advising a number of large multinationals on their wellbeing strategy.

Prior to Bupa, Alaana was Director of Business Development at Nuffield Health, and before that, at BMI Healthcare, where she set-up their international division. Alaana is a well-respected and regular speaker on workplace wellbeing, with a focus on how health plays a critical role in supporting the diversity agenda; as well as using data to drive intervention, reducing health risk and delivering impactful results.

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