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Aug 16 2022 Join EFM

You may have seen recently that the chairwoman of the John Lewis Partnership, Dame Sharon White, called out one of the most alarming features of the post-pandemic economy: an exodus of over-50s who left the workforce during Covid – an outflow that, in turn, is fuelling wage inflation.

The UK has seen one million people, mostly in their 50s, leave work since the start of the Covid-19 outbreak. Competition amongst businesses for the workers remaining is forcing up salary offers – and stoking an already vicious inflationary cycle.

“There’s not a business in the UK that’s not finding it very difficult to recruit at the moment,” White says.

But at EFM, we see a window of opportunity here – and this is how it works.

Getting back to work vs. getting better work

Dame Sharon said introducing flexible retirement plans for people and skills courses for older workers to retrain for different jobs could help encourage people back into work.

That’s certainly one way of attacking the problem – but it’s missing a more subtle and nuanced halfway house that promises better results across the board.

What if, rather than flexible retirement plans and courses, the departing over-50s had accessible and supportive options that enabled them to carry on doing what they do best, profitably, but do it with significantly more freedom, working the hours that suited them? Wouldn’t this encourage them not to retire?

What if this arrangement enabled them not only to enjoy a fuller and more satisfying home and social life, with high earning potential, but to focus their professional expertise only on projects and clients whose challenges genuinely interested them?

And what if all this flexibility delivered not just for these over-50 pros, but also for the businesses struggling with spiralling wage demands for new recruits, by making it possible for those companies to pay for expertise as and when needed, rather than footing a full-time salary bill?

Enter EFM – but how does it work?

But this is no “what if” scenario – at least not as regards Finance professionals.

Because at EFM, we’ve been making it possible for Finance specialists with valuable skills to steer their own ship and choose their own clients for well over 20 years now.

As a Finance professional, when you join EFM (this is called becoming an Associate) you’re your own boss, but you’re also one of an extended and closely connected team of more than 70 employees and Associates in the UK and Ireland, with plenty of creative, marketing, and technical support built in.

There’s more about how to become an EFM associate, and the benefits it offers to Finance professionals (of any age!) looking to move on from the corporate 9 to 5 (6, 7, 8, 9….), in this short piece.

An antidote to the economy’s woes?

If the notion that EFM can in some way contribute to stemming the procession of skilled 50-plus professionals into retirement and to stabilising the wage inflation spiral feels like it’s stretching a point, we’d certainly acknowledge that, as our focus is purely on Finance professionals, we can’t rebalance the entire recruitment market demographic!

But the way we see this, there is a real problem in the assumption that we should either flex retirement, or focus on retraining after it, and that problem is this: both approaches assume retirement, rather than offer alternatives to it.

How is that keeping older people’s skills in circulation? It isn’t. How is it freeing up the supply of professional expertise into the job market to fill the holes left by Covid, career moves, and redundancy? It isn’t. And how is it giving new hope to businesses who badly need a helping but don’t have the payroll to source it full time? It isn’t.

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