Employers Taking Laid-Back Approach to Looming Worker Shortage

June 23, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Every day the Boomers get closer to retirement, and a growing number of human resource professionals are beginning to focus on the coming challenge.

To date, 36% of HR respondents say they have increased training, while 29% have implemented succession planning or replacement charts, according to the new Older Workers Survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), with the National Older Worker Career Center (NOWCC) and the Committee for Economic Development (CED).

“Nothing” Doing

However, that survey of 428 HR professionals also noted that a third (32%) were doing nothing to prepare for what could be a looming worker shortage. SHRM says that the number of workers age 55 and over is expected to increase by 47% over the next seven years.

Despite the well-reported demographic trends, SHRM notes that only 7% of the survey respondents say they have defined a plan or proposed specific changes to prepare for the looming worker shortage, although SHRM notes that most survey respondents neither actively recruit older workers nor do anything specific to retain them. In fact, nearly two-thirds (62%) say that the growing age of the workforce has either not, or barely, impacted recruiting, retention, and management policy/practices.

Elder “Care”

Respondents said older workers:

  • provided invaluable experience (72%)
  • had a stronger work ethic (69%)
  • were more reliable (68%)

Additionally, nearly three-quarters (72%) of the HR respondents said that an advantage to hiring older workers was their willingness to work different schedules, while 78% said phased retirement enabling older workers to reduce hours and responsibilities would be helpful. Only 1% said there were no advantages.

As for what motivates retirees to return to work:

  • 72% said retirees have returned to work for enjoyment or to occupy their time,
  • 64% said retirees have returned to work for the money, and
  • 53% cited social interaction as a motivation for returning to work