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Companies must find ways to retain middle-aged managers

mployment could provide a sense of psychological freedom, but the rigours of contract work remained intense. Both for core employees and the self-employed, long hours of work, heavy demands and pressured schedules were commonplace.

The transition to full-time retirement usually followed several years of self-employment, says the report. It was relished as a time to recover lost years with families and in leisure pursuits, and to draw on social dues, earned through long years of hard graft. The research team found that companies were not hostile to the older managers and professionals, but did adopt a 'hands-off' approach.

Through early retirement schemes, firms downloaded responsibility for retirement onto the individual. The men themselves felt able to control their release from the company environment whilst apparently retaining employability and high income. Many of those interviewed found self-employment consultancy work enjoyable when cushioned by a pension fund built up whilst a core employee.

The research highlights issues about what happens if early retirement options vanish, and says alternatives might include part-time working, job-shares, sabbaticals, outplacements and packages within company joint ventures.

Says Professor McKee:"These men appear to be too fit to retire and too valuable to release. "Imaginative options will be needed which allow their voices to be heard and for them to be involved in the re-design of their work."


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Contact: Anna Hinds
anna.hinds@esrc.ac.uk
Economic & Social Research Council
24-Jan-2003


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