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older worker blog

How a mid-life review can transform the job prospects of older workers and provide benefits for employers 


Steve Butler, CEO Punter Southall Aspire

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What is a Midlife Review?

In 2006, an idea was mooted between careers professionals and labour market researchers that it would be advantageous for older workers to step back at some point when they are 50 or so and review their upcoming options, primarily in the workplace, but also considering how this would cross over into other aspects of their life (McNair, 2006). It was intended that individuals should not only understand their rights but also the opportunities for remaining in work and the financial risks of premature retirement.

It is not to be confused with the regular reviews which many employers provide usually looking at how the person’s career is progressing, problems to be resolved, their performance over the last period, salary and benefits etc. The Midlife Review is far more focused on the mid to long term, and it will look at a person’s situation far more holistically, providing the starting point for reflection on their finances, work aspirations and overall wellbeing. They explore everything that impacts a person’s work and helps them gain a clear perspective on what they want from their future – this could mean going part-time, changing roles, winding down to retirement or leaving the workplace entirely. The overriding objective is to retain the talents and experience of older people in the workforce by identifying the right course to meet their needs and aspirations.

Many people don’t stop to think about it at all, which is how they end up feeling trapped and frustrated, in roles and situations which no longer suit them, but without the skills and resources necessary to change. Others start imagining the life they would really like to lead during this period of their life. They would love to take on a different role at work, one which is both fulfilling and allows them to spend less time travelling, or take on a volunteering role, or take a sabbatical to refresh themselves and learn some new skills.

If done correctly, the Midlife Review can mean that the last ten or twenty years of a person’s working life are their most productive and rewarding.  A Midlife Review simply requires a re-calibration of how employers and employees talk to each other, with both sides understanding the other’s perspectives in order to plan together.

A good Midlife Review will focus on 4 areas:

  • Career - What do they still want to accomplish over the next 10-20 years? How do they see their role changing – and what new skills might they need to make this happen?

  • Wealth - Do they have the funds necessary to make their pre-retirement lifestyle possible, for example if they want to reduce their hours? If not, what do they need to do to afford the life they want?

  • Pension - They need to understand when they will eventually be able to afford to retire, wind down work, based on the pensions or other savings they have available.

  • Health - To continue being productive for another 10-20 years, you need to stay as fit and healthy as possible. What steps can you take, to make this more likely?


The discussion won’t provide all the answers, far from it but it should trigger a process of reflection and planning, which will help unlock their potential at this crucial time and help them stay productive employees for as long as necessary.

In conclusion, a Midlife Review helps employees plan the important second phase of their career and enables employers to work with them to decide how they can best be supported. The review includes deciding what kind of training or upskilling they might need, considering any changes to working patterns and tailoring the benefits package to suit older workers.  Ultimately, it helps employers to make the most of their existing workforce, to reduce the risk of losing valuable talent and ensure people can enjoy fulfilling careers and continue contributing as much as possible, for as long as possible.


McNair, S., 2006. A mid-life career review: making the older labour market work better for everyone.

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