Newsletter Sign Up

1. Background

Most clients we speak with are talking about the challenges of attracting and retaining people. We’ve been particularly interested in the reasons for this, and thought we would add an insight which doesn’t seem to be talked about enough.

The Office of National Statistics show that 362,000 people over 50 are currently unemployed and over a quarter of people aged 50-64 are classed as economically inactive.

Additionally, the UK government carried out a widescale survey between August 10th and 29th 2022; 23,490 individuals participated. We’ve looked at this and condensed the findings for you.

2. Key Findings

The report shows a variety of reasons why people are not working and they make interesting reading.

The reasons for not returning to work varied by age group, as outlined in the following table (click to enlarge):



3. Valuing the Over 50s

Individuals over 50 bring with them a wealth of knowledge, wisdom, and experience that can be overlooked in the race to digitisation. They possess diverse skill sets honed over many years, and often, a broad understanding of the industries they’ve worked in.

– Experience: Over 50s have accumulated vast professional experience that can be invaluable to businesses, both in problem-solving and strategic planning.

– Skills: They possess essential ‘soft’ skills such as communication, leadership, and emotional intelligence. These are critical for team building, managing clients, and dealing with crises.

– Mentorship: Older employees can serve as mentors, passing down knowledge and experience to younger generations in the workplace.

– Network: Over the years, they’ve built an extensive network of contacts which can be advantageous to the companies they work for.


4. The Role of Employers

The world of work has changed dramatically and it’s important that people are supported and recognised for their performance.

To help you, think about our THRIVE model.



Training & Development Initiatives

Foster a culture of continuous learning. Provide opportunities for older employees to update their skills and adapt to industry changes. Make sure that your training and development contributes to participants and to the business. This goes beyond tick box training. This is training that respects people’s experience and shows them the ‘how’ of keeping up to date with changes in technology in their sector.

Health & Wellness

Encourage health and wellness in the workplace.


Your business needs to be resilient if people are to feel secure. Talking about change openly, the reasons for the need to change and what that means for employees, increases people’s resilience, and their ability to cope and move with the change.


Facilitate flexible working arrangements to accommodate older employees’ lifestyles and responsibilities.  As the “sandwich generation” they may have responsibilities for their children and their parents.

Value their Contribution

Acknowledge the significant contribution that older employees make to business success. Recognise their roles, their experience, their insight.


Encourage older employees to share their knowledge and experience. Experienced people make wise mentors, fostering a culture of knowledge exchange and relationship building across generations.

5. The Role of Employees

We live in a fast paced and changing world. So we have to learn to adapt by:-

Training & Development:

Seek opportunities to update skills and adapt to the evolving industry landscape. Be open to learning and training, be active in getting the training and development you need to keep pace with change.

Health & Wellness: Prioritise health and wellness. What we eat, the exercise we do, the rest we take, the quality of our sleep all matter.

Resilience: Be flexible and adaptable to change, open to conversations and feedback. Resistance to change is often proportionate to our feelings of loss, so what are we losing from the change? Asking how can we benefit from it can help reframe our feelings and conversations about change.

Involvement: Be active participants in the business.  Be proud of what you and your business does.

Value Contribution: Recognise the impact your work has on the business. Appreciate your role and its contribution to the team and company. Recognise that although the world is changing quickly, you have skills and experiences that will add value to the business, and that there may also be something you have to change to adapt.

Engage: Engage with your colleagues. Be open to mentoring younger employees, enhancing knowledge exchange and relationship building across generations.


At Intelligent Dialogue, we firmly believe in the power of embracing the value of the over 50s in the workforce.  It’s not only a smart business strategy but also a reflection of how knowledge and experience bringe value and insight.

By recognising the skills that older employees bring, businesses can tap into a valuable resource that can drive innovation, problem-solving, and mentorship.

If we want to attract over 50’s back into the workforce to fill gaps in our organisations we need to value what they bring:-

  • Use the THRIVE model above to help managers and employees attract and retain people in the workforce
  • Consider different more flexible contracts that work around commitments
  • Recognise experienced team members by asking them to be mentors – introduce a mentoring scheme ( ask us for a Guide to developing a Mentoring Framework to help you think that through )
  • Talk about the changes that people need to make to thrive, encourage a culture of open feedback, continuous improvement and coaching to help people develop.

Diane Banister

August 2023