Silver Servers: Over 50s Boost Retirement Income with Hospitality Jobs

Growing numbers of workers over 50 are taking on jobs in the UK’s pubs, restaurants and hotels in order to boost their retirement income as the sector’s labour shortage and rising cost of living prompts a shift in its workforce.

The latest Hospitality Hiring Insider, which analyses job ad data and the views of 600 hospitality professionals*, has found that more than 130,000 over 50s are working in the sector to boost pension savings, and hospitality employers have seen a surge in applications from this demographic.

Hiring resilient despite cost of living
While hiring in some sectors has started to slow, the research shows that the business energy price cap and World Cup are boosting hiring in the sector, and data from shows hiring demands are consistent with 2019 levels, despite the cost-of-living crisis.

One in five (22%) businesses are already seeing a rise in bookings for the World Cup and three in ten (29%) are hiring more people to ensure they can manage the anticipated demand.

A shift in the workforce
While demand for workers has remained resilient, hospitality in the UK continues to be challenged by a shrinking talent pool, with research revealing some 200,000 international workers have left the sector since 2019.

As a result, hospitality businesses are actively hiring from less traditional talent pools and a quarter (25%) of employers believe workers over 50 will be important in helping to solve the sector’s labour shortage.

The research suggests that the cost-of-living crisis is a key motivator in tempting over 50s into the sector and the majority (70%) of hospitality employers note that cost-of-living crisis is driving more people aged over 50 to boost their income by working in hospitality.

Supporting over 50s in hospitality
Over 50’s in hospitality tend to occupy General Management (27%), front of house (24%) and chef-related (23%) roles. Employers believe greater experience (71%) is the best characteristic over 50‘s can bring to their workplace. They also associate them with better punctuality (62%), a strong work ethic (59%) and loyalty (52%).

The research also suggests much more can be done by employers to support this demographic; just 16% run an active returner or re-entry programmes for over 50s to help increase the number of these workers in their organisation.

Two thirds (67%) believe the labour shortages and decline in international workers is making hospitality businesses be more creative in how they hire workers from the UK. In fact, in many cases it has had a positive impact, with 62% now actively hiring more inclusively, with more inclusive policies improving company ethos (51%) and productivity (48%).

Kathy Dyball, Director at comments:
“Brexit, the pandemic, and the cost of living crisis have combined to bring about the most dramatic transformation our sector’s workforce has ever seen. While it will take time to address long-established labour shortages, it’s encouraging to see employers broadening the range of candidates they’re targeting. Workers over 50 are hugely valued by the hospitality industry and we need to do more to highlight the vast range of roles available that can suit people of any working age.

“Jobs in hospitality offer tremendous flexibility, a secure income, and can be truly rewarding. We encourage employers to review all stages of their hiring process, from job adverts to employee benefits, to ensure they consider applicants of all ages equally. The team at are expert at working with employers to reach and engage candidates in a wide range of talent pools, using our advice tools and performance products.”

Luke Price, Senior Evidence Manager for Work at Centre for Ageing Better comments:
“Recruiting inclusively benefits everyone, including older workers who have much to bring all sectors of the economy including hospitality. Research has shown that firms with a 10% or higher share of workers over 50 are more productive, and older workers tend to stay in a job for longer, take fewer sick days, and bring extensive skills and experiences. Since people aged 50+ constitute almost a third of the current workforce, inclusive employers are more likely to reap the benefits of this large talent pool.

“We welcome the news that more firms are hiring inclusively. To ensure age bias is minimised in recruitment, we recommend recruiters avoid using age-biased language, circulate job adverts widely and emphasise employer benefits that might appeal to older workers such as generous pension contributions. The fantastic work catering firms are doing around age-inclusive hiring should also be accompanied by a focus on employee retention: offering more opportunities for flexible working, ensuring those with health conditions feel supported and fostering an age-inclusive workplace culture.”