Retirement and Work: Not an Oxymoron

The oldest of the Baby Boomers, those born in 1946, have entered their 70s, and the youngest, born in 1964, will be 55 this year. This is the largest group of trained future employees. In 2018 AARP reported that while younger workers still make up three-quarters of all employees, a steady surge in the number of workers 55 and older accounts for all of the net increase in employment—about 17 million jobs—since 2000.

To fully realize the potential of this group of potential applicants, employers must get past a few myths. Myth #1: Older workers don’t want to be supervised by younger supervisors. Many older workers appreciate being able to share their expertise without the stress of a leadership role and are pleased to work with younger colleagues and bosses. Myth #2: Older workers don’t have the energy to do the work. In reality they have less absenteeism, less turnover, superior interpersonal skills, and deal better with customers.

And perhaps the most pervasive myth, that those who want to work past age 65 have to and consequently are difficult to manage. In reality, people work past typical retirement age for a variety of reasons. Some enjoy the interaction employment provides, others are looking for a way to add structure to their time, some do need to supplement their retirement savings, and others just loved what they did and want to keep doing it on a part-time basis. Whatever the reason, people want to work past the traditional age of retirement. Employers would do well to consider this segment of the potential workforce, particularly with unemployment rates so low.

So, where should employers start? A first step is to look at your work environment. Are your culture and work space conducive to multiple generations? What benefits can you offer to formerly retired individuals? Older workers often appreciate flexible work scheduling. Health insurance should also be reviewed with the older worker’s needs in mind.

When it comes time to recruit, AARP is a good resource, and there are websites like Seniorjobbank.org that can help you access the retired worker. Once hired, older workers want to contribute and be recognized for it, and efforts to retain them are as important as they are for younger employees.

More and more, the line between retirement and work is blurring. Successful employers will learn how to leverage this trend for their organizations.