Since Boomers started to turn 65 and began retiring, we have become a big segment of research studies. This should not be surprising as we already have been studied from the time of our birth, and the Boomer generation’s attitudes, lifestyles, consumer choices and values have had major impact on people of all ages. And since people are living longer, their ability or desire to work longer should not be limited by out of date age restrictions.
The Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies has just released a report called The New Flexible Retirement. According to the report, the mind set for working beyond retirement age varies around the world. For example, in China, the official retirement age is 50 for women and 60 for men, but the Chinese government is supposed to be working to change that. Sixty four percent of US workers say they plan to work past the age of 65 and many say they may never retire. This is a contrast to Japan where the survey respondents show that only 43 percent plan to work past 65, or France, where only 15 percent plan to work longer.
Many of today’s workers envision a flexible retirement, according to the study. But how they can extend their working lives is a complex problem. Often employers see their older workers as more expensive and less productive. Some have a real bias against older workers. And people doing physical labor may not be able to continue past 65.
The solution to working beyond retirement age is flexible working hours and sometimes a change of tasks. But first, this means that employers must buy in to the concept of flexible retirement and create ways their valued employees can continue to work and contribute to the company. Only 25 percent of the survey participants said their American employers were doing anything to give them the opportunity to reduce working hours or shift into part time work as they get closer to retirement. Employers need to asses their needs and retain older workers to maintain institutional knowledge and prepare for possible future labor shortages.
The report suggests that employers create an aging-friendly environment for employees so both younger and older workers can thrive. These should be designed to break down stereotypes relating to age and take advantage of the skills and experiences that each generation can bring to the workplace. Recommendations also include protections from age discrimination as well as eliminating policies that would affect retirement benefits in a negative way.
The New Flexible Retirement findings should generate ideas that will help workers and employers achieve their retirement goals. Copies of the report can be obtained from the Transamerica Institute, a nonprofit foundation dedicated to educating the public about retirement and other issues facing Americans today.