Just what kind of an impact could a Midlife Review programme have on your company?
Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been telling you about this simple but powerful scheme to offer your employees in their 40s and 50s ‘strategy sessions’...
They’re designed to get your staff to start thinking about what they want to achieve in the final decades before their retirement, and putting together a plan to make it happen.
Now, you might think that this is a “nice-to-do”.
That’s what Aviva, the insurance giant, thought when it piloted the programme in 2017.*
But before long the ‘Midlife MOT’ (as they called it) became a “need-to-do”, which was crucial for their efforts to retain staff, exposed a massive business risk they were not aware of, and prompted a radical rethink in the way they manage older staff.
Aviva first became interested in the programme because it understood that many of its employees were going to have to work for longer, as average lifespan increased. But mid-life workers might often be juggling work with (such as caring for both children and elderly parents), and their career may suffer as a result.
“There’s an unwritten rule that over 50 there is a flatlining to your career. We realised that we need to support these people” says Alistair McQueen of Aviva.
Initially, the company invited 500 people over the age of 45 in one location to participate in a pilot.
While the “Midlife Review” I have been discussing takes the form of a 1-on-1 session with a member of staff or even an external adviser, Aviva chose to run theirs as a two-hour workshop.
They were shocked when they had a 94% take-up rate.
McQueen says: “That showed us that there is an unsatisfied need for help among this demographic.”
Their Midlife MOT initially focused on financial education, because many staff members in this age group seemed to be taking advice on pensions and retirement from their own parents, who likely had a very different career trajectory and retirement experience.
But the feedback they received showed that staff were interested in more than just money.
They discovered that one in three of their workers felt that age was a barrier to career opportunities – potentially a huge cohort.
That’s why their programme eventually evolved to help people consider their health and wellbeing, and career development as well (which is what we recommend too).
“We managed expectations by telling participants that they weren’t going to leave a session as a financial expert, career guru or wellbeing wizard,” says McQueen. “The objective was to give personnel some confidence in their decisions, encourage them to pause for reflection and provide some awareness of what other levers they could pull on when they left the room.”
One key element was to “squash” the idea that career development ends at 50, talking extensively about training and development and showcasing case studies of employees who “challenge their preconceived ideas” – for example, employees in their 60s taking apprenticeship courses.
“The work we’ve done on the MOT has also led to us developing more support for employees who are also carers,” says McQueen. “Everyone knows how many carers leave their jobs because they cannot combine both roles.”
Since 2019, the programme has been rolled out nationally for all people aged 45-plus.
And the impact has been enormous.
The company sees it as a tool to attract new talent, because it shows they are a caring employer.
And crucially, it has allowed them to uncover and deal with a huge business risk.
Through this process, they discovered that one third of their workforce is over the age of 45, and serves for an average of 17 years, so this group is enormously experienced. But its members are leaving the company at a faster rate than the demographic beneath them, leaving Aviva potentially exposed.
‘That’s when we shifted the MOT from being a ‘nice-to-do’ to a ‘need-to-do’,” says McQueen. “From a management perspective, it is now a retention tool. How can we retain these skills, make these people feel valued within the organisation?
“Over the next few years we’re going to have to put some heavy business metrics around it, focusing on retention, on productivity, absenteeism, recruitment. That’s where the mind-set is now within Aviva.”
The bottom line: “For us the Midlife MOT is not just about altruism: It’s also driven by our business objectives."
The Midlife Review could have a similar impact on your company, particularly as there will be additional pressure to retain your very best staff once the Coronavirus crisis subsides, and we enter economically choppy waters.
If you’re interested in finding out more about how you can trial this easily, I have great news!
My book - The Midlife Review: A Guide to Work, Wealth and Wellbeing - is out now.
And you can get your copy here.
And it’s all for a good cause – every 99p will be donated straight to NHS Charities Together.
The book includes:
>> Why launching a Midlife Review makes business sense (and how it can change the life of your staff for the better)
>> How to get started – lots of practical advice!
>> Case studies of other companies who have successfully rolled out the Midlife Review (PLUS: Case studies of employees who have benefitted)
>> A section for your staff members, to get them started thinking about their goals for their final years of work
…and much more.
Interested? Get your copy here.
*All facts and quotes in the Aviva case study are from The Midlife Review, pages 97-101