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We’ve all heard about the great resignation, but did you know that there is another worrying trend currently happening in the UK? According to figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS), a record number of women aged over 50 are retiring earlier than expected. This has a severe impact on the size and diversity of our workforce, as well as obvious financial disadvantages for the country.

Reasons for leaving

When it comes to women retiring early, there are many reasons why this may be happening. Poor health (including menopause), caring duties for elderly relatives/young grandchildren, inheritance, change in lifestyle, better work/life balance, plans to travel (husband may have already retired), didn’t feel valued/supported, gender pay gap, limited job satisfaction or progression opportunities.

Overall, women are prone to juggling many things at once. Whether that be childcare, elderly care, multi-tasking is usually in their DNA. Plus, they often have a propensity to take on too much responsibility both at home and at work. This can lead to them feeling exhausted and of course keen to give up work when things become overwhelming.

The solution

So, as an employer what should you do to hang onto your female talent? With reasons for leaving varied, it’s essential that business leaders and HR professionals show initiative early and provide better resources, support and empathy.

Here are some top tips for retaining women in your workforce.

  1. Offer flexible work hours, working from home options, family balance initiatives and/or unpaid time off when they need it.
  2. Implement activities and programmes to boost female moral and empowerment. This way they will know they’re respected and that their voices are being heard.
  3. Work on closing the gender pay gap by making sure you are offering competitive and equal pay for women and men in similar positions.
  4. Have frequent 1 to 1’s to check in and make sure they’re ok and are not struggling with health/wellbeing issues or other work problems. By acknowledging and helping them to manage any pressures early, will be hugely beneficial.
  5. Offer practical support, including coaching and mentoring, to help them to take a step back so they can see and tackle a situation or problem objectively. You might also like to set up regular coffee and chat meetings on relevant topics – menopause, supporting elderly parents etc. so that women in your organisation can come together, gain insights and share coping strategies.
  6. Focus on women’s development and progression in the workplace. Look at what training, skills courses and/or other areas you can help with and of course remind them of their ongoing value and worth to the business.
  7. Review and revise your inclusivity and recruitment policies, or if you don’t any then implement them as soon as possible. Retaining women in the workforce starts from the very minute you begin hiring, so make sure that any gaps are addressed. And don’t forget to look at how you can attract and retain older women workers.

How can we help?

If you’re needing specialist HR assistance to review and revise your inclusivity policies, get in touch – 01327 317537 or caroline.robertson@actifhr.co.uk. We can provide the necessary help, support and non-obligatory advice necessary enabling you to recruit, retain and reward your older female workforce.