Skip to main content

Why is the ‘Great Unretirement’ occurring?

During the pandemic, many people aged over 50 left their jobs due to health concerns, but research shows that the trend is now reversing. As Covid restrictions have been lifted for over a year, many older people feel more confident and motivated to rejoin the workforce and gain more social interaction.

Additionally, the cost of living crisis in Ireland and beyond has forced many people to rejoin the workforce. Age Action predicted that older people could lose 15-20% of their spending power by the end of 2023, putting some at risk of poverty. Further research confirms that financial stress is absolutely one of the reasons older people are returning to the workforce.

What are the benefits of the ‘Great Unretirement’?

Across Ireland, employers are welcoming the influx of older people back into the workforce. The pandemic left talent gaps across many industries that urgently need to be filled. The OECD estimates that building multigenerational workforces and giving older employees greater opportunities to work could raise GDP per capita by 19% over the next three decades. Employers should use this movement as an opportunity to drive diversity, equity, and inclusion and foster a learning culture that will be vital to support older people on their return to the workplace.

For older people, returning to the workplace will provide financial stability and more importantly, social and mental gain that they have missed out on during the pandemic.

How can employers welcome the older age group back into employment?

Technology has quickly become a major part of workplaces which may bring intimidation and fear to the older age group. Employers could facilitate training and support on how to use appliances and systems to make the employees feel more comfortable and confident in their line of work. Employers could also offer skills retraining to refresh employees’ skills before rejoining the workplace.

Additionally, employers offering flexible working hours/working from home for welfare and family commitments would act as an incentive for older employees to consider re-joining employment whilst still maintaining their health and lifestyle.

Will ageism in the workplace be an issue?

68% of Irish workers surveyed by recruitment company Matrix Recruitment said ageism in the workplace is an issue.

Three-quarters of respondents said they believe that those over the age of 50 are offered fewer work opportunities than younger people, and a third believe that those over 50 find it more difficult to move jobs. Considering the age of people in Ireland to qualify for a state pension is currently 66, and this is set to rise further in the years ahead due to Ireland’s aging population, the trend that over 50s should have fewer progression opportunities, or indeed employment opportunities at all, is concerning,