Most employers are worried that their employees haven’t saved enough money for retirement. The solution? Work longer and push off retirement.
This isn’t just for employers own selfish reasons, though, according to new data from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies (TCRS). This change in mentality is to try and ensure that employees are financially stable heading into their retirement.
Over 80 percent of employers are supportive of their employees working past 65, and 72 percent believe that their employees will work longer.
“People are living longer than in any other time in history, which is putting strain on Social Security and intensifying shortfalls in personal retirement savings,” says Catherine Collinson, president of TCRS. “Therefore, many workers envision working past traditional retirement age. However, their ability to do so is highly dependent on the support of their employers.”
There are more options for employers than just making people work longer. The survey findings reveal four different opportunities for employers.
The first is to be an aging-friendly employer. Simply put, this means offering opportunities, work arrangements, and training or tools for employees of all ages to be successful. This also includes collaboration between generations.
“With Generation Z’s coming of age, we will soon have five generations in the workforce, an exciting and extraordinary opportunity to foster innovation through inter-generational collaborations with exchanges of knowledge, experience, and ideas,” says Collinson.
The biggest reason for people leaving the workforce is because of age at 47 percent, the survey found, followed by financial ability (35 percent), health issues (32 percent) and family responsibilities (22 percent).
Collinson notes that by being aging-friendly, a workplace can keep their employees sharp with new skills and keep them in the workforce longer.
“Employers can affirm their aging-friendliness by adopting inclusive practices, programs, and benefits that recognize age with other demographic factors,” says Collinson.
This ties right into the second opportunity, which is allowing employees to work longer. So far, very few companies encourage people to work past the traditional retirement age.
Last year, only one in four Americans worked past the age of 65, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
“As much as employers may believe they are supportive of their employees working past age 65, actions speak louder than words,” Collinson says.
Another option is a flexible retirement plan, which helps ease the transition into a work-free life. This way, the financial rug isn’t entirely pulled out from under senior’s feet, but they begin to take a step back from the full-time workforce.
“Flexible retirement can be a win-win solution for workers and employers. Today’s workers need the ability to transition into retirement and have the flexibility to continue earning income until they are ready to fully retire. These types of phased retirement programs can help employers optimize workforce management and succession planning — while also generating goodwill among employees,” says Collinson.
But like allowing employees to work past 65, few companies offer this form of transition into retirement.
Just 39 percent of employers offer pre-retirees flexible schedules, the survey found. Even fewer enable pre-retirees to shift from full-time to part-time (31 percent) or to take on positions that are less stressful or demanding (24 percent).
Restructuring jobs to help keep employees longer is a great way to secure their finances, but the best way to help employees, Collinson says, is to offer better retirement and employee benefits.
“Employer-sponsored retirement benefits are proven to be one of the most effective ways, if not the most effective way, to help workers save, invest and prepare for retirement,” she says.
Although most — at 66 percent — already offer such benefits to full-time employees, fewer than half extend eligibility to their part-time employees (47 percent).
Employers know that employees place importance on nonretirement employee benefits that could help improve or protect their financial security, but the survey finds the level of perceived importance exceeds employers’ actual offering of such benefits.
“Employers play a vital role in promoting retirement security among American workers, yet it’s important to keep in perspective that their primary focus is running a business,” Collinson says. “Therefore, it is imperative that policymakers and the retirement industry work together to make it as easy, affordable and worry-free as possible for employers to offer retirement plans along with other employee benefits and flexible retirement options to their employees.”
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