Recruitment specialist in HR, Sales and Operations

Retirement – do we need a rethink?

October 27, 2022  /

An emotive and potentially controversial topic, but this blog is blue sky crazy thinking… hear me out:

As specialist recruiters who recruit into HR departments and Human Capital Management related solutions business, we observe with great interest trends relating to these two spaces.

As a by-product of servicing these marketplaces, we talk every day to HR decision makers and people who are shaping the products and services that Human Capital Management offer to organisation’s. It offers us a unique insight into the workplace, and an ongoing sense of the people challenges that organizations are facing.

One noticeable consequence of the pandemic is that many skilled people, (who are lucky enough to make this positive choice) have left the workforce and retired early. We have stayed connected with many from our network that have taken retirement, and many are delighted. They have done it! They are realizing their dreams of travelling, immersing themselves in time with family, friends, hobbies, and pastimes – how did they ever fit in work!?

However, there does also seem to be a proportion of that population that misses work. Indeed, some openly regret their decision. When the later applies, it seems to be a shame that they are resigned to the fact that they have made a final and wrong decision. They cannot financially return to work without complications with their pensions. Some worry that the workplace would not be able to welcome them back in a flexible way… so don’t try. Others would love to do something different but can’t see an employer investing in training someone who is at the latter stages of their healthy life. So again… they don’t try.

Another observation is that many more people are still of working age and not active in the workplace because they can’t be right now. Sometimes this is down to the pandemic but also, this is in part thanks to a health system that is under resourced, catching up, and struggling to process a huge back log. Many who do want to work are waiting for treatment that will allow them to work again. We have mentioned this before , see this link

At the same time, we notice through our clients that many businesses are struggling to fill the vacancies that they have available. Many are utilizing apprentice programs and graduate schemes. They are also reviewing and improving reward incentives, many are using all the usual recruitment methods available to them. But they are still left short.

It seems logical then that focus for our society should be on getting the willing population back to health. It is interesting to see how the health difficulties that we face is in some way, connected to our current workforce challenges. Long-term thinking and investment is surely needed here. Educational programs to enable future populations to age ‘more healthily’ would no doubt pay dividends. I am determined not to be political, but one does wonder… how can this sort of planning and long-term thinking happen with 4 – 5 year governmental cycles, and dare I say it, a government that looks to be dysfunctional? There, I did say it!

Furthermore, it would surely help if we were creative about enabling the more experienced population to return to the workforce when they want to. Clearly there is no magic wand here and no quick wins. These are complex issues.

Whilst controversial (this is not an opinion, it is a blue sky, observational comment), should we also ask questions about whether our current retirement system works? Given the societal and workplace challenges that we have now, should we aspire to a system where we have lots of skills that are able to work, that are not working? After some research, I learnt the other day that the notion of retirement was first proposed by Germany’s Chancellor, Otto Von Bismark in 1881 and adopted in 1889 It transpires that retirement as we know it today, came into effect 133 years ago to solve the problem of older generations ‘job blocking’. It was designed to free up roles for the younger populations who desperately needed them. It feels like we have the reverse challenge today.

Given that we have lots of skilled and able people leaving the workplace to retire early, is the retirement system right for our needs today? To be clear, I do not have an opinion that denies people their well-earned retirement. But I think it is an interesting question.

It seems that the only short-term tactic is to be as thorough and creative as you can be. It is clear to us that businesses that have well-resourced HR teams that are forward thinking, are in the main, doing much better than others that are not.

Many of our clients, from both of our specialisms, are working away to solve these problems. To quote the Greek philosopher Aristotle “the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” To have many initiatives around flexible working, engagement, retention, recruitment, and wider talent management is key with the workforce challenges we have today.

I look forward to observing the trends and witnessing the solutions as we continue to serve our two symbiotic marketplaces.

And I would also love to hear your views about retirement!!!

If you are looking for help to resource your HR team or to recruit into your Human Capital Management focused business, we would love to hear from you

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