Easing into Retirement

A majority of today’s employees expect to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, with some speculating that they might never retire. In fact, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, workers aged 55 and older make up about one-quarter of the US workforce. These workers often hope for a gradual transition to retirement rather than an abrupt labor force withdrawal.

Consequently, it is in employers’ self-interest to ensure that they are as productive and engaged as possible. Employers searching for ways to bolster employee engagement often find that flexible work options – whether in terms of schedules, reduced hours, remote working or some combination – contribute to their dedication and commitment.

Of course, this conversation about workplace flexibility has been going on for a long time, and managers periodically express concerns that such arrangements can result in unintended negative consequences. Some human resource managers continue to worry that their employees might abuse these policies, and sometimes they anticipate repercussions if they approve one employee’s request to use a flexible work option but cannot approve this for another worker. Some managers also believe that it is more work to supervise employees working on a flexible arrangement, and others question whether service to customers and clients is affected.

Policy makers in countries around the world also find themselves at a type of crossroads with regard to the extended labor force participation of older adults. Public pension schemes are feeling the strain of the retirement of the large segment of older adults. Extended labor force participation can help ease the pressure on social insurance since some people who continue to work for pay will postpone accessing their public pensions.

Company leaders are beginning to seriously consider options that support gradual transitions into complete retirement. Older workers’ interest in workplace flexibility seems like a small ask, but it could make a big difference.