The findings from a survey of workers between the ages of 35-55 show that most workers expect to retire at 62 years old, four years earlier than the state pension age of 66.

The report called Providing for tomorrow today: understanding an ageing workforce was commissioned by law firm Osborne Clarke. It surveyed employees aged 35-55 working in seven industry sectors across the UK.

The report identifies workers' current and future employment and retirement expectations and the impact these may have, not only on the shape of the future UK workforce, but also on employers in the industry sectors surveyed.

The report also covers:

  • Which are the most in-demand company benefits for employees
  • Employee financial confidence ahead of retirement, and
  • Skills gaps and training requirements.

Olivia Sinfield, partner, employment and international head of urban dynamics at Osborne Clarke commented: "A third of all UK workers are now aged over 50. The majority of these workers are out of work by the time they hit State Pension Age. For some, falling out of the labour market is driven by a rigid job market and employers not being ‘age-friendly’. But with the government now trying to encourage more workers to stay in work (or return to work) will these people have the requisite skills for a digital-first economy and what benefits will be most attractive to them?"

Paul Matthews, partner, pensions and head of future of work at Osborne Clarke commented: "Employers can and should play an important role in providing employees with support and education in relation to pensions and wider financial wellbeing. Following the Spring Budget 2023, employers should also look out for reforms which encourage or require them and pension providers to signpost employees to the mid-life MOT and related support."

Retirement plans

Among workers surveyed, there is a mix of feelings towards the prospect of retiring, with 31% saying they are looking forward to their retirement as they will have lots of free time. However, 19% don’t know what they are going to do with their time during retirement and thinking about retirement makes (22%) of workers surveyed feel anxious.

Workers surveyed in the Financial Services sector expect to retire at the latest age (63 years old on average) based on their current financial circumstances. Those from the Energy and Utilities sector are expecting to retire at the youngest age (on average 59 years old).

There is an overwhelming feeling among workers surveyed that they feel supported by their company, with 83% saying their company is supporting them in planning for their retirement.

Across all industry sectors, workers surveyed from the Financial Services sector are most likely to say they would be encouraged to work for longer if their employer allowed them to work flexible hours (62%) and provided them with more annual leave (49%), whereas those from the Mobility and Infrastructure sector* were least likely to say the same (32%, 34%).

Company benefits

Progression opportunities are most likely to be important to workers surveyed, with just under a quarter saying opportunities for career progression in their current role (24%) and opportunities for career progression, or change of direction, in a different role (24%) is important to them at work. This is closely followed by ability to work on a hybrid basis (23%), opportunities to upskill/personal advancement (23%) and working environment and facilities (23%).

Exploring how these factors differ in importance between ages and gender, diversity and inclusion is more likely to be important to younger workers surveyed (aged 35-44 23%, aged 45-55 16%) and female workers are more likely than male workers to say working environment and facilities are important to them (28% vs 20%).

The opportunity to work remotely abroad also seems to be important to workers surveyed, as 79% said they would like to work remotely, in their current role, from an overseas location at any time up to their intended retirement age.

In terms of company benefits in the next 1-10 years, the most important were flexible working hours (26%), dental insurance (23%), fertility treatment (22%), counselling (21%) and financial support and/or time off for medical issues (21%).

When looking specifically at which company benefits would/are going to help workers surveyed end their careers most happily, different benefits are noted. Pensions (25%) are most important for ensuring their career ends happily, followed by life insurance (21%), private medical insurance (19%) and salary sacrifice schemes (19%).

The data also explored which company benefits workers surveyed would want and value the most for their company to introduce that they don’t already provide. Around 1 in 6 said they would want and value their company introducing inflation salary increases (17%), critical illness insurance (17%), financial support and/or time off (16%) and travel benefits (16%).

The full report also looks at workers' financial confidence and skillsets required to enable them to work for longer. It can be accessed at: Ageing workforce report (

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