Press release

Saga reveals job satisfaction among the over 50s at an all time low

Monday 8 March 2010

  • Economic climate key driver for discontent
  • Experience and wisdom undervalued in the UK workplace
  • However a large number of retired over 50s would still like to work

A Saga study has today revealed that job dissatisfaction is rife amongst the over 50s. Despite employment rates for this age group remaining steady since the end of 2007, there is unprecedented concern about job security, unhappiness with pay and hours worked and, in some instances, despondency about having to return to work because of their financial situation.

With over 50s now accounting for more than a third of all workers in the UK today*, unemployment is a key concern. Almost everyone questioned (96%) felt that older workers who are made redundant during the recession will struggle to find work, and the majority (66%) believe that employers are more likely to lay them off. So far, however, trends in employment among today’s over 50s suggest that this is not the case, with employment rates among over 50s falling far less than employment rates among younger people, and employment among over-60s still higher than at the start of the recession.

In addition to the fear of redundancy, there are a number of challenges that older people perceive to be widespread in their working environment. Over four fifths (81%) believe that modern workplaces undervalue wisdom or other personal qualities that come with age, over three quarters (77%) do not think that professional experience is valued and more than three-fifths (61%) feel that discrimination from senior management is an obstacle to working.

Emma Soames, editor-at-large, Saga Magazine commented: “Too many older workers feel their skills are underestimated and unappreciated. Employers need to make an effort to recognise the benefits of an age diverse workforce.”

The current economic climate is sharpening the discontent amongst older workers. A total of 600,000 over 50s in the UK have had to revise their retirement plans and feel that they have been forced to return to work in the past year, or work longer than they would like to, because of collapsing pension payouts and poor returns on savings and investments.

Furthermore, approximately 644,000 older people are feeling either over-worked or trapped in their jobs and an additional 380,000 have been forced to ‘trade down’ to lower paid or lower-skilled jobs.

On the bright side more than one in three non- working retirees (34%) – some 3.6million people, would actually like to be doing some paid work, ideally between 2 and 10 hours a week.

The “partirees”, who are part-retired and have both paid and unpaid work - generally have the highest job-related satisfaction scores, and report the lowest number of problems at work.

Satisfaction is highest amongst those that work in environments with a lot of human contact, such as teaching and nursing, and this is far more important to this demographic than high salaries.

Emma Soames, concluded: “The recession has taken its toll on the UK’s over 50s, and there are some who are clearly unhappy. However not everyone is in this situation, and many still feel positively about work.

“We believe that being overworked for some and working too little for others is a big problem. The ‘Saga Generation Manifesto,’ calls for a ban on age discrimination in the workplace and an end to the compulsory retirement age and for retirement to be a stepped process, which would be helpful for employees and employers.”


Notes to Editors:

· Concerns amongst older workers:

o Dissatisfaction with pay - 37%

o Number of hours that you work - 34%

o Not getting enough holidays / paid time off - 25%

o Time it takes to commute /travel - 19%

o No flexibility in working hours - 18%

o Not enjoying the work you do - 18%

o Not getting enough unpaid time off - 8%

o Having to care for adults - 7%

o Having to care for children - 3%

* there are 8 million over 50s in the workforce in the UK

FDS International collected interviews using Saga’s Populus panel, which delivered a total sample of 10,209 people aged 50+. Using quotas established by the Government Actuaries’ Department and the National Readership Survey, FDS derived from the Populus panel a nationally representative sample of over-50s, with an effective sample size of 3,121. This sample is nationally representative of UK over-50s by age, gender and social grade. Alongside our main source of original survey data, FDS used analysis of the Labour Force Survey and the British Household Panel Study to provide data on trends in work-life-styles over the past two decades.



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