Should I Stay, or Should I Go?

Older employees' later life planning in a business context

Strebler M, Baldwin S | Report 467 | Institute for Employment Studies | May 2010

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Helping older employees plan their future is challenging at the best of times. In an economic downturn these challenges are even greater. There is a risk that cuts will have an adverse and disproportionate impact on older workers.

On the other hand, we are all expected to work longer but stereotypes in the workplace have not necessarily disappeared with the advent of age discrimination laws.

Line managers may be confused by the current climate of discrimination legislation and pension complexities. Meanwhile, older workers may fear that bringing up issues may jeopardise their current position in a climate of economic uncertainty.

How can HR support individuals and their line managers in handling these conversations? Should individuals be more directly supported by experts inside or outside the company?

This report explores case study research gathered from a broad range of organisations, each with their own context and issues with regard to older employees. Our interviews reveal a wide variety of experiences, attitudes, opinions and needs relating to later life planning.

We focussed on how - and whether - older employees proactively planned their future working life and retirement; what support their employer provided and what sort of conversations they were having and with whom. Their words provide a rich tapestry against which we unravel older employees’ experience and needs.