- The fastest growing demographic is people 80 and over, with people 100 and older following close behind, reports Marketplace, citing an AARP statistic. The population is aging and so is the workplace, leaving employers with a skills and knowledge shortage, according to AARP.
- To ward off “brain drain,” the loss of invaluable knowledge in the workplace, employers are offering “flexible retirement.” This work arrangement allows older employees to keep working but on a shorter workweek, World at Work, an HR professional association, told Marketplace.
- Some employers offer “phased retirement,” another form of flexible retirement, in which older workers’ hours are reduced over time until they reach full retirement, says Marketplace. About 5% of employers offer “phased retirement,” the Government Accountability Office estimates.
“Brain drain” occurs when experienced employees exit the workforce, leaving a knowledge void behind. Marketplace described a nurse on “flexible retirement” who could give a colleague vital information about a 10-year-old decision involving a medical procedure. This is the type of historical knowledge older workers can provide others in the workplace.
One drawback to “flexible retirement” and “phased retirement” is that both can keep younger workers looking to enter the workforce out of jobs that older workers occupy.
But not all employers are anxious to keep older workers onboard. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently settled an age discrimination case against Philadelphia's Public Records Office for $60,000. Some employers prefer to higher young workers because older workers tend to have higher medical costs and often require higher salaries due to experience. Employers are even pouring money into 401ks to get older workers to retire.
Employers must balance the need for knowledgeable mentors with cost-saving retirement initiatives and avoid violating the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) by basing recruiting, hiring, retention and other employment decisions on age.