Why Retirees are an Untapped Pool of Talent

Research shows a clear trend for retirees returning to the workplace. Retired alumni are an untapped source of talent that HR leaders are taking seriously.

Recent research from both the US and the UK shows a clear trend for retirees returning to the workplace. In the US, data from AARP and Indeed found that 1.7 million people who had retired in the past year were returning to the workforce. Meanwhile in the UK, a survey from MyPensionExpert found that over 700,000 retirees were considering finding employment and that one of the main drivers for this was the cost of living crisis.

Retired company alumni are an untapped source of talent that HR leaders are beginning to take seriously. From a recruitment perspective they come with many benefits. If they’ve previously worked for your organization they’ll already know the culture and processes, meaning their time to productivity is far lower than a completely new recruit. Also, their years of experience can be invaluable when it comes to mentoring younger colleagues.

However, bringing your retired company alumni back into the organization won’t work if you don’t take into account what they want from their career at this time of their life. Research from Joblist found that while around 27% of retirees in the US were returning because of the cost of living crisis, far more wanted to come back to work simply for “something to do”. 60% of those surveyed found that there was too much space in retirement and wanted to return to the workforce to fill that gap. It’s important that employers realize that returning retirees are looking for more than just a paycheck, the majority are looking for the social connections, structure and sense of purpose that work can provide.

They are also looking for different types of work. A study by the Office of National Statistics in the UK found that for those retirees thinking of returning to work, 36% stated that flexible working was the most important aspect of choosing a new job. Nearly 20% wanted to be able to work from home and 16% needed a role that could fit around caring responsibilities. And while retirement might not be providing them with everything they desired, the vast majority are not looking to return to work full-time either. 69% would like to return on a part-time basis.

Seeing retired company alumni as part of your talent pool is one way to find qualified candidates who already know your business and know they want to be a part of it. If you want to attract them back make sure you’re offering roles that meet their needs. Considering them for “tours of duty” – short term contracts for a specific purpose or project – could be one way of accessing their experience and knowledge, while also meeting the retiree’s need for flexibility. And if you’re not looking to bring more people into your workforce currently, tapping into recent retirees to help with mentoring or training can provide them with the social connection and sense of purpose they’re seeking, while also offering younger employees the career development and support they feel they’re missing after the pandemic.

Read more about the do's and don'ts of bringing employees back to your workforce in this guide to boomerang success

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