Over 50’s favour gradual reduction in hours before retirement

Older people favour a gradual move into retirement, with more flexible working, a survey finds.

Older woman at work


Nearly half of UK workers over 50 who earn more than £20k would ideally like to transition into retirement gradually by reducing their hours, according to a survey.

The survey of over 1,000 people by Aegon found workers favour a phase of ‘pre-tirement’ by adjusting the amount of time they work before they give up work altogether.

A transitional approach

A transitional approach was embraced consistently across all income bands and in 11 out of 12 areas in the UK, with the only exception being the North East of England, where only a third (34%) would choose this route.

The traditional approach to retirement, the so called ‘cliff edge’, where workers go from their usual work pattern to full retirement all in one go, is now favoured by less than a third (31%) of workers over the age of 50.

Among those that would like to transition, as many as seven in ten (70%) would ideally like to adjust by working fewer days, while a significant 44% saw a reduction in the number of hours they work every day as the preferred solution. A third (33%) wanted more flexible working arrangements and a fifth were looking for more holiday entitlements while remaining in employment.


Understanding the challenges and opportunities of an ageing population is vital if we want to create productive, innovative and inclusive multi-generational teams as we all lead longer working lives. workingwise.co.uk is a job and community site, from the people behind workingmums.co.uk, specially focused on older workers looking for flexibility and improved work-life balance, and the employers who recognise what they have to offer.

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Steven Cameron, Pensions Director at Aegon, which provides life insurance, pensions and asset management, said: “The concept of retirement is changing from traditional to transitional. As people enjoy longer life spans, they no longer yearn to down tools and start retirement in one fell swoop.

“Over 50s in the UK see the appeal of gently easing off the amount of time they work or altering their working pattern. Many see this as having the best of all worlds, benefitting mentally and socially from work, as well as continuing to receive an income, while simultaneously enjoying more leisure time.

“Our research shatters the concept that retirement is a single-day event. Time has run out for ‘carriage clock’ retirements. Those approaching retirement want a fluid transition, and it’s not only the individuals who’ll benefit. Enabling individuals to remain economically active into later life is also good for employers and the broader economy.”

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