The UK economy, still slowly recovering from the pandemic, is still struggling to combat the continuing labour shortage.

This has become more acute as older people are quitting the labour market, according to statistics from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The ONS highlights the fact that most (80 per cent) of what it calls the newly economically inactive population (people who aren’t in work or seeking work), is now older than 50.

Those workers may be the key to surviving the current talent shortage, so it is all the more alarming that so many are leaving the labour market, often due to ill health.

What needs to happen?

To combat this, employers who wish to retain key older workers may have to make adjustments to working practices, to support the wellbeing of their employees.

Previous research has shown that flexible working, including working from home, is a factor in enabling older workers to remain in the labour market for longer.

Analysis by the Institute for Employment Studies, show the labour shortage has been partially driven by 600,000 workers leaving the job market since the pandemic began.

The figures published this month also show how competitive the labour market is, with just 1.1 unemployed people available for each job, the tightest since records began in 1971.

Can workers be persuaded to return?

A lack of employer support for long-term health issues could be making things worse, however, as between October and December 2021, a third (200,000) of the workers left the economy due to poor health.

Jonathan Boys, labour market economist for the CIPD, said employers need to look at ways to make it easier for the affected groups to come back to work, with job flexibility a critical part of the solution.

He added: “Employers must work harder to design jobs that suit everyone’s preferences. This means increased focus on job quality and making reasonable adjustments to help those with long-term health conditions to stay in work.

“More enlightened employers are shifting their focus to employee wellbeing, even conducting ‘stay interviews’, the antithesis of exit interviews.”

How we can help

Here at HR Caddy we work closely with SAOH, who have over 25 years’ experience providing Occupational Health services, to ensure our clients can access a complete service when the need arises.

SAOH provide bespoke Occupational Health services to small and medium-sized businesses that do not require permanent full-time Occupational Health employees.

Need help? Let’s chat.