I’d like to think that most of us have heard the statistics that people have the ability to live longer than ever. As a result, many employees want to stay in the workforce beyond the traditional retirement age.
But let’s face it, some employees aren’t prepared for retirement. Over the years, organizations have replaced pension plans with the 401(k). Those plans rely on employee contributions. And employees haven’t saved at levels commensurate with the loss of pension plans. So, some of the decision behind employees wanting to stay in the workforce longer is they need to stay in the workforce.
I recently ran across an article in Workforce Magazine titled, “Live to 100? Implications for Work, Employers, and Retirement”. The article goes into some details about why employees aren’t prepared for retirement, but it also suggests that organizations should consider providing resources to help workers transition into retirement.
As recruiting continues to be a challenge, it could make some business sense to create benefits programs for unretirement. Organizations want older workers to stay engaged and continue working. Employees want to contribute and save some additional resources for when they’re fully retired. The question becomes: What are the right benefits to offer? It can’t be things that jeopardize existing government programs. Here are a few things to consider (three of these you’ve probably considered plus one that might be a little ‘out of the box’):
Financial wellness programs: Organizations can make sure that workers are educated about their finances. They can prompt employers about extra savings opportunities under qualified plans and IRAs. Organizations can let employees sign up for automatic enrollment and savings plans. And offer financial counseling for employees approaching retirement.
Flexible scheduling: Employees like time off. Organizations can provide employees with part-time, seasonal, on-call, and contract positions. Older workers can reduce their hours gradually, which allows them to adjust their budgets accordingly. Organizations can use this planned reduced scheduling arrangement to create knowledge management programs and keep valuable historical and technical information.
Learning opportunities: Both employees and employers want this phased retirement strategy to work. Part of making it successful is keeping skills current. Just because an employee transitions to part-time doesn’t mean the company should stop making investments. The goal of this arrangement is for the company to benefit from the employee’s work and the employee to benefit by contributing longer. That happens when employees receive training.
Redesigned traditional benefits programs: There’s no reason that organizations can’t offer some sort of benefits package that is commensurate with the reduced hours that the employee is working. Sometimes we simply assume that only full-time employees are eligible for health care, wellness, disability, etc. Maybe it makes sense to include some of your organization’s unique perks like retail discounts or special services.
I’m hearing an increased number of organizations asking, “We have a lot of workers getting ready to retire. We need them to stay. We don’t have candidates to replace them. How do we do that?” The answer is start creating a benefit package for employees transitioning to unretirement. Talk with them. Find out what they want. This is exactly what organizations do to attract full-time employees.
Part-time positions are just as important as full-time work. It’s time to place some dedicated energy to creating unretirement jobs that can bring value to the organization.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby on the streets of San Francisco, CA