Many older workers are no longer settling for stressful working conditions or fully in-person jobs, finds a new AARP survey of adults age 40 and older.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in attitudes about work, with more people prioritizing work-life balance and making workplace flexibility as a job prerequisite, the report said.
“Understanding a Changing Older Workforce: An Examination of Workers Ages 40-Plus” shows that flexible work hours are now a job requirement for 79 percent of older workers, while 66 percent say they would only accept a new job if they are able to work remotely at least some of the time. Most older workers (90 percent) also say they require a job that provides meaningful work.
“During the pandemic, many people took time to reexamine their personal goals and how their job fits into their life,” said Carly Roszkowski, vice president of financial resilience programming at AARP. “Given the high level of burnout that so many older workers experienced during the pandemic, especially those who are caregivers, it should come as no surprise that work-life balance has emerged as not just a priority but a requirement.”
Over half (53 percent) of those ages 40-49 and 36 percent of all workers age 40 and older are caregivers for an adult, typically a partner/spouse or parent, and report having to work remotely, change work hours, reduce hours, use paid caregiving leave or quit their job altogether to provide care in the last five years, the report said.
Given the need for more flexibility among caregivers and the emphasis on it among older workers in general, gig and independent work has become increasingly common. More than a quarter (27 percent) of older workers are doing freelance or gig work and the number is higher (32 percent) for those ages 40-49. While 89 percent of gig workers say making extra money is their primary motivation, flexible work hours are a close second at 87 percent.