New Vision of Retirement Calls for New Workplace Model

Baby Boomers are changing the traditional definition of retirement.

Sixty-five percent of Baby Boomer workers surveyed say they plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire.

Sixty-two percent of the Baby Boomer workers who plan to work in retirement and/or past age 65 indicate that their main reason is income or health benefits, but 34% plan to continue working for enjoyment, including 18% who want to stay involved and 16% who enjoy what they do.

The survey from the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies found that for most Baby Boomer workers, retirement is no longer a point in time in which one immediately stops working. Sixty-eight percent envision a phased transition into retirement during which they will either continue working, reduce hours with more leisure time to enjoy life, or work in a different capacity that is less demanding and/or brings greater personal satisfaction. Only 21% expect to immediately stop working when they retire, and 12% are “not sure.”

According to the survey, the majority of employers share positive perceptions of their older workers, with 87% saying older workers (age 50 and older) are “a valuable resource for training and mentoring” and 86% identifying them as “an important source of institutional knowledge.” Eighty-eight percent of employers agree that they are supportive of their employees working past age 65 and delaying retirement, but Baby Boomer workers are less likely to believe that their employers are supportive (73%).

Only 48% of employers have practices in place to enable shifting from full-time to part-time and even fewer (37%) allow taking on new positions that are less stressful or demanding. Only 21% of Baby Boomer workers believe their employers will enable them to shift from full-time to part-time.


The survey identified seven ways employers can help their pre-retirees successfully prepare and transition into retirement (with the help of their business advisers and retirement plan providers):

1. Facilitate a flexible and phased transition into retirement. Employers can do much more to accommodate older workers who want to transition into retirement, and by doing so they can help optimize their own workforce management efforts, improve succession and continuity planning, provide employees with valuable training and mentoring, and enable Baby Boomers greater flexibility to retire on their own terms.

2. Assess effectiveness of retirement plan’s education offerings. Among employers that offer a 401(k) or similar plan to their employees, most provide retirement-planning educational offerings through their retirement plan provider(s). These resources range from online tools and calculators to professional investment advice and even informational seminars, meetings, webinars, and workshops. However, these tools are not found to be as useful as plan sponsors may expect. For example, only 60% of Baby Boomers find the online tools and calculators to be helpful.

3. Offer assistance for workers’ financial transition to retirement. Pre-retirees face a myriad of complex financial decisions regarding when and how they financially transition into retirement. Plan sponsors of 401(k) or similar plans have a tremendous opportunity to work with their retirement plan advisers and providers to offer transition-oriented resources and tools. The majority of plan sponsors provide planning materials and information about distribution options (i.e., a legal requirement); however, fewer than half offer financial counseling, pre-retirement seminars, or an annuity as a payout option as part of their plan. Plan sponsors can also assist by extending plan eligibility for part-time workers so pre-retirees who are transitioning into retirement have the opportunity to continue saving.

4. Provide education about Social Security and Medicare benefits. A strong knowledge of government benefits is especially important for pre-retirees. Decisions about these benefits can have life-long impacts and it is important for pre-retirees to make educated choices. Only 17% of Baby Boomers know “a great deal” about their Social Security benefits and only 13% about their Medicare benefits. Employers can help by offering information about these government benefits. Just 27% of employers currently provide information about Social Security and 29% about Medicare.

5. Offer workplace benefits that can help serve as a backup plan or “Plan B.” Most workers value health and welfare benefits that can help serve as an important safety net in the event of catastrophic circumstances, yet comparatively few employers offer them. For example, 82% of Baby Boomer workers value disability insurance, but only 57% indicate that they are offered it through their employer. Similar gaps apply to long-term care, critical illness, and cancer insurance all of which are valued by Baby Boomer workers but relatively few are offered them.

6. Promote the Saver’s Credit and catch-up contributions. Only 23% of Baby Boomer workers are aware of the Saver’s Credit, and 64% are aware of catch-up contributions.

7. Foster an age-friendly work environment. With so many Baby Boomers planning to work past age 65 and potential anxieties about age discrimination, employers have an opportunity to foster an age-friendly work environment for their employees of all ages. One way employers can communicate their commitment to diversity, including age and other demographic factors, is to adopt a diversity and inclusion policy statement that they widely communicate with employees and other interested parties. About half (48%) of employers say they have adopted a diversity and inclusion policy statement.

Harris Poll conducted the 15th Annual Retirement Survey on behalf of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. A telephone survey was conducted within the United Stated by between July 31 and September 17, among a nationally representative sample of 751 employers, including large (500 or more employees) and small (10 to 499 employees) companies. An online survey was conducted within the United States between February 21 and March 17, among a nationally representative sample of 4,143 full-time and part-time workers, including 1,021 Millennials, 1,120 Generation X, 1,805 Baby Boomers, and 197 who were born prior to 1946.

The survey report can be accessed here.