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Older Adults Worldwide Want Job Flexibility, Survey Finds

Opportunities to work from home and build new skills are priorities for workers globally

Add beautiful beaches to a general enthusiasm for job flexibility, and it’s easy to understand why remote work is booming among older workers in Brazil. Roughly 71 percent of people 45 and older in that nation worked from home at least occasionally, according to a new global survey from AARP Research.

Around the world, 48 percent of respondents said they work remotely at least some of the time, and 21 percent said they work from home now more than they did roughly three years ago. The numbers suggest that the “long-term impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have generated unprecedented and rapid change to workforce dynamics around the world,” the report says.

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AARP and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conducted a large-scale, two-part survey of 12,158 workers 25 and older in 12 countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States. The survey took place from June 1 through July 15, 2022.

The survey is meant to help employers worldwide better understand how to meet the needs of older workers. “As our population continues to age, employers should consider that workers of all ages now want more remote work, flexibility, work-life balance and opportunities, in addition to wanting to feel valued and wanting to grow professionally,” the AARP brief says.  

Here are three takeaways from the survey:

Older workers want flexibility and a better work-life balance

Fifty percent of those surveyed said they want more flexibility, including when and where they work. Workers in Brazil wanted flexibility the most (70 percent); the number was 44 percent in Northern and Western Europe (the grouping for Finland, France, Germany and the U.K.).

Respondents also looked for more balance. Worldwide, 18 percent of respondents wanted jobs that were less stressful while 14 percent said they wanted to work less.

Older adults will switch jobs if they feel undervalued

Among those surveyed, 29 percent said they either switched jobs or considered switching jobs because they felt undervalued at work. Older respondents from European nations were more likely to cite this reason than those surveyed in other parts of the world.

In Brazil, respondents were most likely to change jobs to follow a new passion or career (28 percent), while respondents in the East Asia/Pacific region were more likely to leave their jobs because they were close to retirement eligibility (18 percent).

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Older workers in Finland changed jobs the most (68 percent), while those in Japan switched jobs the least (37 percent).

Older adults want to build new skills

More than half of older workers (55 percent) said they had completed job-related training in the past five years. Among older workers who did not, two in five (41 percent) would be interested in training.

Older workers in South America (72 percent) and Southern Europe (66 percent) had the highest rates of job training, while those in North America (51 percent) and the East Asia/Pacific region (49 percent) were less likely to have undergone recent job training.

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