Professional Comment

Why the Hospitality Sector Needs to “Retire Retirement” and Instead Start Encouraging Employees to Rethink Their Lifestyle Goals

By Michael Middleton, director with Pro-Vision Lifestyles (

The pandemic has not been kind to the hospitality sector.The sector has lost £80.8bn of sales in the 12 months according to the UK Hospitality Quarterly Tracker and it is estimated that many employers have had to furlough 90% of their staff. Inevitably those of an older age have perhaps had to delay their retirement or, even and in some cases, brought it forward.

In addition, ahead of further lock down easing this week the hospitality sector is struggling to recruit employees.This has prompted many organisations to engage ambitious recruitment drives to attract young staff to the sector, and into permanent as opposed to part time roles.

It is becoming increasingly important that employers in the hospitality sector are vocal in their positive culture, and show that they are supporting and addressing the concerns of their staff across all ages. One of the conversations many employers in the sector should be having with their employees, and even them- selves, is what their future is within the business and indeed in their later years.This is a key area for businesses to help their

employees address. Helping people think about and plan their whole life has the added benefits of not just improving their wellbeing, but also helping the business keep them employed in a useful role, whether part time, which suits many employees in the sector, or full time.


Generally people are not good with change, especially changes that are enforced. Clearly the last year with lockdowns, furlough, redundancy and continued uncertainty over the economy has caused a lot of people in hospitality a considerable degree of emotional turmoil.

Retirement is a 130-year-old concept that is long past its sell-by date yet it remains something people strive for throughout their working lives, almost as a rite of passage.The reality of retirement rarely turns out to be what we expect. Realising that “retirement” is a gradual process not an abrupt end is essential, and employers have a huge role to play. From the moment we join the workforce we are bombarded with messages urging us to save for retirement, but never to plan for what we want.Too often the transition proves difficult and causes health issues, the first a battle against depression caused by the sense of the loss of status and purpose when a career ends.

Of increasing concern to businesses is the level of expertise that is being lost from Boomers and soon Gen X’ers reaching retirement age.This issue can easily be addressed by HR and training teams providing support focussed on phased ‘retirement’ options and the non-financial aspects of retirement planning.

These issues are not the sole preserve of older employees, but something younger people need to be aware of.The problem stems from how we are taught to see life’s stages and that once we reach a certain age we are of less value to our organisations and need to prepare for the last part of our life.This conjures up images of being old, frail and dying. As does saving for retirement, it is as though by saving we will hasten the event. We should not deny the fact that life ends, for all of us. However, life for the over 60’s can be the time of our lives; this is a message we should be encouraging younger people to consider.

With improvements in health and lifespan substantial numbers of today’s young will not want to stop work or even slow down until they are much older. Hospitality skills, like fine wine, improve with age and experience.There is much to look forward to; the sector benefits enormously from older part time employees. Discussions that look at easing out of full time employment and embracing employment on a partial basis will be crucial.

How many employees see their pension as the employers’ obligation and are not engaged with the process? It is time to help people see their pension as an enabler of their future… and their future as something to look forward to. It is not a difficult problem to crack. For instance, running a series of workshops to help people discover more about themselves and how they want to spend their futures is a good way to improve engagement with the company pension and also a good forum to discuss how people can work more flexibly as they get older.

Companies need to rethink how they see retirement and encourage their employees to see it as an opportunity to discover what they really want out of later life.

Michael Middleton is a director with Pro-Vision Lifestyles ( and a financial advisor with 30+ years’ experience. He has helped 100s of people to turn their “retirement” into the most the most fulfilling phase of their working lives!