There’s a statistic from Pew Research that says 10,000 people a day are turning of retirement age. That doesn’t mean they all leave the workforce at that time, but that they’re eligible for “retirement benefits”. And organizations need to get ready for what’s being termed a “silver tsunami” of older workers leaving the workforce.
This should be a concern to companies. According to the Society for Human Resource Management, 68 percent of employers are having challenges finding qualified talent. Companies need employees to grow and deliver a return-on-investment (ROI) to stakeholders (whether those are internal or external).
Over the last decade, many Baby Boomers lost a piece of their retirement nest egg due to the Great Recession. Many have recouped those losses or learned to live without. At some point, they will decide they need to retire. Meanwhile, organizations cut back on employee benefits and investments (like training) so workers are behind in skills development.
The reason I’m bringing this up is because I believe all of these factors: an aging workforce, the Great Recession, lack of companies making training and development investments, etc. has created a bit of a retirement crisis. Do workers have the resources to retire? Do companies have plans in place to handle the exodus? For a long while, I thought I was the only person thinking about this and then I received my latest issue of Workforce Magazine. The entire issue was dedicated to the retirement challenge.
Yes, an HR magazine totally focused on retirement. One of the articles that caught my eye was “Remodeling Retirement for the 21stCentury”.
This tells me that companies have a lot of work to do. If they want to keep older workers around longer, they need to become more supportive. Companies need to make training and development a priority, so workers feel they can successfully do the job (and don’t feel like they’re being left behind). They need to set expectations about what (if anything) they will do as an employer to support the transition from full-time to retirement.
Employees also have an obligation. They need to be open to change, including learning new skills to stay relevant in the workplace. They need to understand their benefits, so they can properly leverage them. I can’t tell you how many times employees didn’t read or attend benefits meetings and then were upset to learn that their benefits weren’t what they expected. Employees also need to communicate with the company their retirement plans so management can support them.
I can’t deny that over the past few decades an increasing number of employers haven’t thought about retirement. They’ve eliminated retirement benefits and told employees that they’re on their own. Well, it’s time for organizations to refocus. I’m not saying that companies need to go implement the old retirement pension, but they do need to set expectations with employees – of all ages. And they need to keep in mind that older workers might be positioned to give them 5-7 years (or longer!) of fabulous work.
Employees at every age are thinking about their retirement and what’s it going to look like. If people and organizations don’t start setting expectations, everyone will be disappointed.
Image captured by Sharlyn Lauby near Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, HI