UK over-50s need more workplace support

UK employers are being urged to step up workplace support as 6.4 million over-50s face longer working lives.

Longer working lives have become a reality for millions, yet a significant number of over-50s feel unsupported in the workplace, according to new findings1 from Aviva which highlight the need for UK businesses to boost support for their older workforce.

Aviva's research found that:

  • 63% of over-50s in work are planning to retire later than they thought they would 10 years ago.
  • 44% of older workers feel unsupported by their employer when it comes to their career ambitions.
  • Employees aged 50+ are more confident than those aged 25 to 34 about keeping up with the changing workplace and having  relevant  skills.
  • Aviva pilots Mid-Life MOT2 to help staff make positive plans for their careers and lives beyond 50.
Man wearing telephone headset with Aviva logo in the background

Almost two thirds (63%) of the 10.2 million over-50s in work3 – equivalent to 6.4 million people – are planning to retire later than they thought they would 10 years ago. Many of them are extending their working lives due to the rising cost of living (40%) and insufficient pension savings (38%).

Despite this, more than two fifths (44%) of people aged 50+ still in work feel unsupported by their employer when it comes to their career ambitions and objectives, compared to only 25% of those aged 25 to 34.

Reasons given for extended working lives

  • Rising cost of living


  • Insufficient retirement savings


  • Other


With a third of the UK workforce set to be aged 50+ by 20204, businesses are being urged to increase their commitment to older employees and help them adapt to a longer working life.

By failing to support their staff, employers risk creating a disheartened and discouraged over-50s workforce.

Lost opportunities: employers missing out on the talent and experience of over-50s

Aviva’s latest findings suggest employers could be missing out when it comes to the skills and experience their older workforce can offer.

The study reveals that those aged 50+ are more confident about their ability to keep up at work (41%) and their relevant skillset (37%) than their younger counterparts (36% and 33% for those aged between 25 to 34).

Woman with grey hair in office corridor
The number of UK workers aged 50+ has increased by 20% since 2012

Extending working lives not yet matched by extended support

The pensions and retirement landscape has changed considerably in recent years since the Default Retirement Age was abolished in 2011:

  • The number of workers aged 50+ has increased by 20% since 20125
  • The state pension age has been under regular review and is currently set to rise to 68 by 2037 and 
  • Major retirement reforms have been introduced, including the ‘pension freedoms’ in 2015.

Despite UK employees working longer than ever before, Aviva’s research suggests that progress in the workplace – in terms of the forms of support offered to this older generation – has been slow.

Which of the following forms of support did your final employer / does your current employer provide for people approaching retirement?

Forms of support



Ability to reduce working hours or work flexitime



Written literature on the financial issues surrounding retirement



Free independent financial advice



A list of recommended IFAs to approach for financial advice



Workshops/seminars on retirement finances



A dedicated member of staff to talk to about these issues



Source:  Aviva, 2012/2018 (all figures for those aged 55+ to enable comparisons – see reference notes below)

Factors such as the ability to work flexitime have only increased slightly from 12% in 2012 to 14% in 2018. However, access to other forms of workplace support – including guidance on retirement finances – has remained static. 

Aviva’s research clearly highlights the benefits this type of support can provide for employees. For those older workers who do have access to support, three quarters (75%) agree that it was useful, with a fifth (21%) stating that workplace support played an important role in their later life planning.

To help tackle the issue of workplace support for longer working lives, Aviva recently piloted a Mid-Life MOT with its employees to help them consider the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in their work, wealth and wellbeing as they get older.

Aviva will use the findings from this pilot to help inform discussions with government and the business community about how best to support UK employees more broadly, beyond the age of 50.

Lindsey Rix, Managing Director, Savings and Retirement at Aviva says:

"Millions of people are facing up to the realities of longer working lives on a daily basis. Working for longer brings opportunities and challenges in many areas of life, which means that supporting staff beyond the age of 50 has to become about much more than just financial planning.

Image of Lindsey Rix of Aviva UK Insurance
Lindsey Rix, Managing Director, Savings and Retirement, Aviva UK Insurance

"Our findings suggest that older employees have a lot to offer at work, despite the challenges they face around workplace support.

"To make the most of this, employers need to provide rounded support for this generation where their wellbeing and work-related needs are considered alongside the financial challenge of saving for retirement. We recently piloted a Mid-Life MOT within Aviva for some staff to help give them a greater sense of clarity and control over the choices they face beyond 50.

“Our ambition is to help create the right conditions for people to see opportunities through the uncertainties that come with longer working lives, so they can continue to progress at work and lead fulfilling careers, regardless of their age.”  

We urge government, employers and industry to work
together to encourage people to sustain longer, productive and healthy working lives while considering their financial position.

- ENDS - 

For media enquires please contact:

Katy Hurren, Aviva Media Relations:,
07800 692 548

Instinctif Partners:
020 7457 2020


1.Research conducted by Censuswide on behalf of Aviva in May 2018. Survey respondents included 2,497 UK adults aged 16-75, including 1,219 aged over-50 of whom 520 are still in work. Instances of comparisons are based on identical survey questions in 2012 among 1,014 over-55s by Opinion Matters on behalf of Aviva – to enable comparisons over time, 2018 figures used in the comparison are for 1,006 over-55s within the wider sample.

2Mid-Life MOT is defined as “a useful trigger point to encourage people to take stock, and make realistic choices about work, health and retirement” - Cridland Review of the State Pension Age (2017). A “Mid-Life MOT” is a development programme to help those in the 45-65 age-range consider their work, wealth and wellbeing needs, with the goal of supporting a fuller working life for all. Aviva is committed to exploring the potential of Mid-Life MOTs to help people focus at 50, and trialled Mid-Life MOT seminars, for c100 employees in Norwich in May 2018.

3ONS Labour Market Statistics, July 2018 (latest available figures) – table A05 shows a record 10.186m over-50s in work between March and May 2018, of a total over-50 population of 24.282m

4ONS Labour market projections 2006-2020

ONS Labour Market Statistics, July 2018 (latest available figures)


Notes to editors:

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