How employers can benefit from the trend towards delayed retirement

The demise of many defined benefit pension plans, increased debt levels in retirement and lower savings levels have all contributed to the prevalence of employees working past age 65. However, there’s an often-forgotten factor: many of those Canadians are choosing to work longer because they want to.

For those Canadians who do opt for semi-retirement, the decision is a positive one, according to a survey published by HSBC in 2015. More than a third (38 per cent) chose to stay at work because they wanted to. They’re still very active at age 65 and get fulfilment and joy out of their work. 

Read: Discussion about retirement age resurfaces as census shows big rise in senior population

Many people over age 65 are enjoying a higher quality of life than their counterparts were 20 years ago. They feel energetic and have many things to contribute to the workplace. Many employees over age 65 are choosing their own line of work, working part-time or picking their own hours. The level of experience they’ve gained in their working years is very valuable, and although many people may not want to work for a company or take on full-time hours in their later years, there are many examples of seniors opening their own home businesses or doing contract roles.

For their part, employers are recognizing the trend and being proactive by offering specific positions or benefits to seniors. Some are offering fitness and wellness seminars dedicated  to older staff members. Others are offering arrangements where employees are able to retire from their position, collect their pension and come back to work on revised schedules, typically on a part-time basis or as a contractor. Offering those types of scenarios allows an organization to keep expertise and knowledge in the workplace, while also bringing in youth to entry-level positions to develop future staff and reducing the loss of knowledge caused by a retiring workforce.

Read: Employers must prepare for retirees’ ‘encore’ careers

When considering older employees, employers would do well to put aside some myths about older workers.

Common misconceptions about older workers include the idea that they’re less productive, quicker to retire and not receptive to change or training. Statistics show older employees have a strong desire to remain relevant in the workplace. Physical ability can diminish with age, but intellectual capacity remains strong. Many older workers are eager to continue to be productive.

Many older employees see retirement as a staged event now. They’d like to enter retirement gradually, instead of just leaving work all at once. Research from Statistics Canada in 2016 showed baby boomers prefer a challenging workplace, and training for employees between the ages of 55 to 65 has doubled over the last 20 years.

Read: Employers challenged by trend towards delayed retirement

With all of the reports of employers not being able to find good talent, many are actually targeting seniors because of the untapped knowledge and experience they bring to the workforce. They’re doing that through targeted ads in seniors’ publications, increasing internal referral efforts and letting recruitment firms know of their interest to hire older workers.

The trend towards delayed retirement isn’t going away any time soon, so finding ways for employers to take advantage of it may be an unexplored opportunity that could yield positive results for both the business and employees.