Survey: A chance to work again would draw most older people out of retirement
- More than half of retirees would return to work under the right conditions, and many already have, according to a survey from the RAND Corporation. The American Working Conditions Survey compared the work experiences of older workers (ages 50 and over) with prime-age workers (ages 35 to 49).
- The study also found that two-thirds of older workers and two-thirds of prime-age workers report having fulfilling work, although the figure was lower for prime-age men. Additionally, 17% of older workers said they have work flexibility, compared with 14% of prime-age workers, while older workers report having fewer opportunities for advancement (27%) compared with younger workers (40%).
- According to RAND, keeping older workers in the workplace is important because the Social Security system is stressed and growth in the economy has slowed. As a result, RAND said, many employment experts recommend keeping older workers employed.
Older workers might want to keep working to stay active or because they like their work. But others stay in the workforce because they don't have enough retirement savings. Boomers have less savings than millennials because they don't receive the same advice younger employees do, according to some benefits experts. The Addison Group’s Third Annual Workplace Survey found that 51% of respondents are worried about the possibility of never being able to retire.
Although some employers fear losing the knowledge and skills of older workers, causing a "brain drain" on their organizations, millennials have complained about losing out on advancement opportunities because of boomer and Gen X bosses.
Phased retirement is a possible win-win for the "brain drain" dilemma, older workers who need to keep working for the money and younger workers looking to move up. Phased retirement allows workers to work flexible hours or part-time until they're ready for full retirement. Flexible arrangements like this must be careful to steer clear of discriminatory activity, however. The EEOC has made clear its priority of combating ageism in 2017.
Employers might help workers, especially older employees, prepare for retirement by extending retirement plans to part-time staff, offering Roth 401ks, providing automatic enrollment and offering help with understanding investments and managing savings.