British workers won’t work woke

Older employees are retiring because their workplaces are too ‘woke’, according to new research.

A national poll of 2,000 people, commissioned by recruiter Randstad UK, found that a third of workers over 55 described their workplace as “too woke” (33 per cent) — almost double the percentage of those under 35 years old (17 per cent).  And while older workers are more likely to find their workplace “too woke”, they are also almost twice as likely to want to leave their organisation if they do — either to retire or for another employer.  One in every two people over-55s, working somewhere they deemed “woke”, said that the “wokeness” of their workplace made them more likely to leave — either to retire or to get a job somewhere else.  Only 29 per cent of workers under the age of 35 said the same.  

While 22 per cent of of men told Randstad their workplace was ‘too woke’, only 13 per cent of women said the same.  

Victoria Short, chief executive of Randstad UK, said workplaces had been getting more ‘woke’ for at least a decade: “These findings have immense implications for staff retention. One of the most significant challenges that the country faces isn’t unemployment — it’s under-employment.  Accomplished, experienced, senior staff are leaving the workforce at an ever younger age, taking their vast reserves of institutional knowledge and industrial knowhow with them, and retiring early.  What no one had considered is the effect that might be having on workers over 55.  

“We have to appreciate that real inclusivity is also about embracing those that aren’t necessarily on board with the mixed sex loos in offices, the awareness days in the kitchen, and the pronouns on email signatures.  While these results suggest ‘woke’ works for younger people — indeed, a third of workers under 25 still think their workplace isn’t woke enough  — there are multiple generations in the workplace, all with different expectations and life experiences.”

In the budget, Jeremy Hunt announced three pension giveaways to encourage the over-50s to return to work or delay their retirement plans.  One will allow workers to contribute up to 50 per cent more to their pensions each year, with the annual allowance increasing from £40,000 to £60,000.  The £1.07 million lifetime allowance has been scrapped altogether with the lifetime limit on tax-free pensions savings being abolished completely.  And the chancellor has raised the money purchase annual allowance from £4,000 to £10,000, which largely affects older people returning to the workplace.  Additionally, the chancellor is introducing the idea of a new training programme for out-of-work older people — “a new kind of apprenticeship targeted at the over 50s who want to return to work” called Returnerships.  The chancellor said returnerships will “bring together our existing skills programmes to make them more appealing for older workers focusing on flexibility and previous experience to reduce training length”.  This programme of work will be backed with £63 million of additional funding.  

Victoria Short said: “The chancellor’s policies to encourage more over-50s to return to work and alleviate the alarming drop in workers recorded after the pandemic seem perfectly sensible. Indeed, we have been lobbying the government for years to improve the upskilling/reskilling environment for older workers. There are 1.2 million economically inactive people aged 50-64 who have retired early.  Tweaking the pension system may encourage some of them back into work but these policies will achieve very little if one of the main reasons why people are giving up work in the first place is woke culture. This polling suggests too many over-50s feel left behind in workplace environments where cultures aren’t as inclusive as they ought to be.”

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