The retirement programs that many organizations offer contradict the assertion that firms want to retain tenured employees. However, firms can change this.

  • In recent years, there has been much focus on knowledge retention and encouraging highly tenured employees to remain in the workforce. However, the retirement programs that are offered frequently contradict this. There's often a huge disconnect between organizations that say they support older employees who want to retire later and those that actually offer programs that help them remain in the workforce.

    Statistics

    According to Benefit News, 72 percent of employers believe many employees intend to work well past age 65 if they intend to retire at all. In addition, nearly 75 percent say they provide aging-friendly environments in that they offer training, opportunities and/or flexible work arrangements. However, only 39 percent actually offer flexible work schedules to pre-retirees and even fewer offer or allow a shift from full-time work to part-time work. Therefore, what organizations claim to be supportive environments very often are not.

    Inclusive Policy Statement

    According to Benefit News, as a first step in assisting baby boomers and other highly tenured employees and driving their retention, employers could adopt a diversity and inclusion policy statement. The statement would address age along with other more typically included demographic factors, such as race and religion. Furthermore, consider including words such as "mature" and "experienced" to beneficially target or show support for older workers. Creating and promoting a statement like this will encourage employers, when planning, "to think through the implications of what it means to include age as a factor," explains Benefit News.

    Offer Flexibility

    Although some baby boomers want to work until they can no longer physically do so, others want to experience the same sense of purpose, mental stimulation and social interaction that a job provides — but at a reduced pace. Therefore, offering retirement programs that incorporate more flexible work schedules or part-time hours would enable more boomers to remain in the workforce longer. Flexible options such as job-sharing can also benefit employers by providing them the time to implement succession planning. This allows organizations to capture the huge knowledge base that resides within the heads of highly tenured individuals. Reducing employees' work hours over time can also provide firms with an enhanced workforce planning capability.

    Organizations can also offer sabbaticals to allow employees to renew and restore. Firms can shore up their employee assistance programs to help employees navigate the financial, psychological and legal issues related to caring for older relatives. Redesigning defined pension plans to no longer penalize employees for opting to continue to work but with fewer hours and thus, less pay, is also important for firms that offer such programs. Yet another flexible option is 'rehearsal retirement' where employees work 20 hours and volunteer 20 hours (unpaid) at the non-profit of their choice.

    Employee Perspectives

    To determine what may be the best options for your firm's employees, begin by tasking HR managers to start asking your personnel what they want. This discussion can happen during exit interviews with those who retire or leave to go elsewhere or via surveys if the workforce is large and in-depth individual interaction is more difficult. The discussion can also occur during stay interviews; ask employees why they remain and what would support their retention. It is amazing what issues and solutions simple, sincere engagement can uncover.

    Many organizations want to offer retirement programs that support the retention of baby boomers for as long as possible but are not sure how. A number of options, and ways to approach them, have been provided herein to assist firms both large and small.

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