LIMRA SRI: Preventing Brain Drain Should Be a Retirement Program Goal

As skilled Baby Boomer employees begin to reach the traditional retirement age, employers need to examine their policies and procedures to address the potential loss of talented and experienced workers.

A new LIMRA Secure Retirement Institute (SRI) study urges employers to examine their benefits and compensation policies to address the potential loss of talented and experienced workers.

Citing U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, LIMRA SRI researchers note that fully one-third of the U.S. labor force is age 50 or older. While other analyses have shown that as many as three in four workers over the age 50 say they will delay retirement beyond the traditional ages of 62 or 65, the LIMRA SRI research makes it clear that this will be difficult for workers to attain without direct support from their employers—in the form of more flexible part-time schedules, for example.

“While four in 10 current workers expect to work in retirement, current retirees are not showing a desire to work for pay,” the study shows. “Only 17% of retirees are still working for pay, and only 13% of retirees not currently doing so say it’s possible they will return to work.”

The LIMRA SRI research suggests that if employers start using targeted incentives, more employees are likely to stay working longer. Importantly, this will not just be a benefit to the employer, the researchers explain: “Working longer can have significant financial benefits [for retirement plan participants], as retirement delays of as little as three to six months can have the same impact on standards of living in retirement as saving an additional one percentage point of income over 30 years.”

The research points to a number of policies and procedures that should help workers stay engaged longer, such as more flexible hours, part-time or consulting-based employment, flexible location and financial rewards. These top current employees’ list of desired incentives to delay retirement, researchers note. Additionally, LIMRA SRI finds that on average, workers who receive all of their desired incentives say they would work an additional 14 years—though this figure, again, is likely overly ambitious.

“Allowing employees the flexibility to work outside of the office is the most valued and could result in those employees working an additional 15 year, on average,” the study finds. “The next-most valued incentives are having flexible hours and getting financial rewards. Employees who can have flexible work hours or financial incentives to work longer say they are likely to work an additional 13 year, on average. Allowing employees to drop to part-time or work as a consultant, on average, adds an additional 12 working years to the employee’s spoken commitment to the company.”

The LIMRA SRI research further finds “a third of workers’ expectations were guided by having a specific age in mind when thinking about retirement.” For Baby Boomers, being eligible for Medicare and Social Security was more important than for younger generations.

“The primary reason workers expect to retire at a specific age is that they will be financially able to do so,” researchers conclude. “This is especially true for men as half mentioned this as their driver of retirement. However, defining retirement by a particular age can be risky, as it doesn’t account for the actual savings and assets available to support the person in retirement.”

More information about the full LIMRA SRI study, “Selecting the Right Carrots: How Employers Can Incent Employees to Delay Retirement,” is available here.