The baby boomer generation is reaching retirement age, but they aren’t
retiring—at least not at the same rate as their parents. This is having
a significant impact on the age of the workforce.
Why aren’t the baby boomers retiring? For one, the official social
security retirement age has been increasing since 1998, keeping many
older employees in the workforce longer. In addition, the recession
depleted the retirement savings of many baby boomers, forcing them to
delay their retirement or return to work.
This trend is important because of its sheer magnitude: not only is the
workforce aging, it is doing so at an alarming rate. Over the past ten
years, the total full-time workforce increased by approximately 1, while
the 55 and older segment increased by 45.
The rapidly aging workforce comes with increased levels of absenteeism,
as mature employees tend to take more time off for health issues.
Studies have shown that employees aged 55 to 64 miss 10.8 days due to
illness, while their coworkers who are ten years younger miss 8.5 days.
It’s no surprise, considering that 80% of older Americans have at least
one chronic condition and more than 50% have at least two.
Employee absenteeism is not only inconvenient, it brings significant
costs. According to the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor
Statistics, the direct financial impact of absenteeism adds up to $74
billion. A study by Mercer found that absences cost organizations an
average of 12.2% of payroll. As the workforce ages and absences rise,
these costs can be expected to increase.
But it is important to remember the many advantages of mature workers:
they tend to be well-trained, have specialized skills, exhibit a strong
work ethic and take greater pride and satisfaction in their work
compared to younger generations. Here are six tips for organizations to
accommodate these valuable workers while still managing their own costs:
# Health programs on-site: Encourage workers to lead healthier
lifestyles by having a health program at your workplace. These kinds of
programs have been shown to improve health and well-being, lower health
risks (leading to lower healthcare costs), reduce absenteeism and
#2 Flexible work arrangements: Many older employees would like to
continue working, but want more flexibility and more personal time.
Flexible work arrangements, telecommuting, job-sharing and project-based
work are all ways to allow the employee to feel she is contributing
while still being responsive to her needs.
#3 Employee assistance and work-life programs: Consider giving
mature workers access to services to help with personal and work-related
issues, such as elder care. Employees can use services for themselves or
their families, which reduces stress and lets them focus better and
contribute time to work.
#4 Care management: This new approach uses a voluntary payroll
deduction to fund the employee’s access to geriatric care managers. A
care manager works with the employee to create a comprehensive plan for
their health, safety, social and financial wellness. Care management
programs can allow workers to fully concentrate on the job.
#5 Creating an “aging plan”: For workers in high-risk positions, it
is wise to create a preventative plan for alternative work options. As
they age, these employees may not be able to continue contributing in
the same way, but there may be other ways they can make an impact on the
#6 Succession planning: As experienced, mature employees in key
positions begin to retire, or face health issues that keep them from
working, it’s important to have a plan in place for who will fill
important positions. Organizations must devote time to training and
developing the employees who will step into key positions when older
The workforce is aging at a rapid rate, and employers must be ready to
deal with increased absenteeism. As employers are planning their
strategy for dealing with their mature workers, they will need the right
data and analytics to make decisions. Paycor’s Custom Web
Reporting gives organizations quick access to
important information like employee demographics, hours worked and
retirement plan eligibility, enabling them to make informed decisions
about their business. Learn more by
contacting us today.
Source: PayTech Magazine