The Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) is reaching retirement age, but they aren’t retiring—at least not at the rate they should be. And, as the largest generation born in U.S. history, the sheer numbers coupled with their reluctance to leave the workforce will impact businesses in the years to come. Organizations that take the time to strategize now will have a competitive edge in the future.
This post is in no way meant to discount the value of older workers. Those who genuinely want to work in their retirement years are typically a tremendous resource in any organization. Many of our more senior folks have deep institutional knowledge of our businesses and industries that our more junior associates need to learn and develop. However, an aging work population can impact business cost and productivity. I believe that a good retirement and healthcare strategy should provide clear opportunity for senior people to retire with confidence and dignity while also creating new opportunities to rejuvenate the workforce.
The biggest issues that many businesses face today are employees who continue to work because they have no other options. For some, delaying retirement provides an opportunity to shorten the time in retirement without a pay check, increase the size of one’s retirement nest egg, and benefit from employer-subsidized healthcare. Unfortunately, this practice has become known as “retiring on the job.” From a business perspective, this could mean increased healthcare and other benefit costs, higher payroll costs, increased absenteeism and paid time off for health related issues, and potentially higher contributions to the company retirement program. Worse, delayed retirement can also tie up jobs for new talent to enter a company’s workforce, which can impact a business' ability to compete with other businesses in the industry.
So, what are your options? At the very least, the changing demographics of the workforce deserves careful consideration moving forward. Just think, by 2020, nearly 50% of our workforce will be comprised of the Millennial generation. Help yourself by helping more senior employees better assess their position to gain some insight to what your employee population might look like in 5, 10 years. There are many financial planning firms willing to help. To be effective, however, I believe that businesses need to help facilitate the process by bringing in advisors to educate and work with their people. Last, create a work environment that will attract future qualified workers of all ages and incorporate “age neutral” organizational strategies that promote a holistic approach to health and financial wellness.