Employers Scramble to Hang Onto Older Workers

October 29, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - New York-area employers are offering older workers plums such as flexible work schedules (58%) and part-time hours (47%) in order to get them to put off their retirement, according to a new survey.

A survey conducted for The New York Times Job Market employment section found that most (42%) of the workers aged 50 years old and above considered flex time extremely or very important in their decision about whether to keep working.

They were also extremely interested in:

  • option of working part time, 35%
  • unpaid leaves or sabbaticals, 28%
  • phased-in retirement plans, 24%
  • job sharing, 16%

More than one-quarter of hiring managers (27%) believe there will be a shortage of workers in the next five to 10 years. Among larger companies (those with 100 or more employees), 45% say they anticipate such a shortage. At the same time, only one-third of hiring managers (32%) say their companies have specific long-range plans to address this problem while 68% of the group say they do not have any plans in place.

Older workers may help fill a gap. More than half of all employees aged 50 or older (55%) indicate they expect to still be working past the age of 65. Within this group, a slightly larger proportion say they will continue working primarily by choice (49%), rather than due to financial necessity (41%). The remaining 10% cite a combination of choice and necessity.

Hiring managers appear to be going through the trouble to retain workers for good reason. According to the survey, executives view the presence of older workers as a valuable corporate asset. The vast majority of hiring managers (99%) agrees that older employees are important as mentors to younger employees and that older employees have a type of institutional memory that will be hard to replace after they retire (87%).

Beta Research Corporation conducted telephone interviews with 250 hiring managers and 200 full-time workers over the age of 50 in the New York metropolitan area.