Employees are encouraged to retire when they reach a certain age in some countries — but that’s the last thing you want them to do.
Older workers are a major asset. A recent study conducted by The MetLife Mature Market Institute and the Center for BrainHealth at The University of Texas at Dallas found employees in their 70s are likely to consider the various options and outcomes before making a decision and exhibit more careful and organized behavior than workers in their 50s.
Older workers delaying retirement means companies have additional time to identify key proficiencies a worker possesses and ensure the knowledge is transferred to younger employees to prevent future skills gaps.
Being able to prepare current employees to eventually take over mature workers’ roles will save companies the costs associated with conducting a search to find external candidates for the position. Organizations will, in the meantime, have a more diverse workforce that includes a variety of age groups.
The good news, according to recent forecasts, is that a number of European and U.S. employees are projected to stay in the workforce past the traditional retirement age during the next decade.
The bad news? Your near-retirement-age employees may not want to.
Convincing some to stay can help you avoid scrambling to find qualified replacements and the risk of drawn-out productivity delays.
Successfully retaining and encouraging experienced talent requires a proactive approach — such as:
Offering flexible scheduling options
- Allow employees to ease into retirement through reduced hours, seasonal schedules or other lessened time commitments. Roughly 30 percent of employers offer a phased retirement option, according to a WorldatWork survey.
Formally recognizing mature workers, instead of focusing on correcting potential manager bias
- It’s a highly effective way to reduce the threat of age-related stereotypes affecting older employees’ performance. Mature workers in Australia who experienced stereotype threat reported lower engagement 11 to 12 months later, according to research from the University of South Australia and the University of Melbourne.
Providing opportunities for mature workers who are delaying retirement to assume challenging new roles or assignments — or, if they’d prefer, giving them a chance to perform less stressful work or redesign their jobs considerably reduced stereotype issues.
Considering a variety of mentoring match-ups
- Traditional mentoring programs can provide an outlet for older workers to pass valuable skill-based information to your organization’s future leaders. The University of South Australia and the University of Melbourne study found reverse mentoring programs — where younger employees provide mature workers with guidance on topics, such as technology updates — can reduce stereotype issues.
Providing ongoing learning opportunities
- Training can increase older workers’ productivity and overall employability, according to the Institute for the Study of Labor, an international research center that, in 2011, published a study on on-the-job training in the Netherlands.
In Germany, where a population decline and potential labor force contraction are expected in the next 15 years, companies are offering skill refresher and other training programs that were created to encourage employees to remain at work past the usual retirement age, according to the World Economic Forum.
Many regions stand to benefit financially from retaining older workers. OECD countries, for example, could add $2.6 trillion to their total GDP if they echoed Sweden’s admirable employment rate for 55-and-older workers, according to PwC; its 2016 report identified Iceland, New Zealand and Sweden as the top three OECD member countries that had most effectively harnessed the economic power of older workers.
If your organization employs a significant number of workers who are approaching retirement age, our white paper on generational diversity in the workplace can provide more information and tips on retaining the valuable older-employee segment.
Get additional help managing the effect of employees delaying retirement plans by preparing to support older staff members, if they stay, and avoiding succession planning issues in our blog posts on the topics.