The ageing of European society is leading to a situation where, at current employment levels, supporting the retired population will become increasingly unaffordable. The proposed solution can be summed up simply: bring more of the working age population into work and extend everyone’s working life. Achieving these objectives presents a significant challenge, however. People stay out of the workforce or leave it for many reasons, and the nature of work itself is often the core of the problem: it does not adapt to the different needs of different people; it does not adjust in step with the ageing of workers; it does not motivate them to stay on. Work may even damage the health of workers, forcing them out of the workforce. This issue of Foundation Focus looks at the different aspects of both life and work that influence a worker’s ability and availability to work over the course of their lives.