Fixing the broken work and retirement systems requires comprehensive change in decades-old practices that have led to the current crisis for an aging, healthier workforce seeking retirement security. The Longevity Agenda for change can – and should – include these achievable, affordable and measurable elements:
End the 65 “sell-by” date as a mandatory or informal “retirement age”
Nearly a century ago Social Security set its eligibility age at 65. That “sell-by” date for departing the workforce has been embedded in the popular mind – and in decades of assumption, policy and practice. In the era of the hundred-year life, linking aging and workforce termination must cease.
Practice career-long development and training of all staff
The trope that older workers are digitally challenged and lacking essential skills – and thus “too expensive” – results from focusing training and development on workers 40 and younger. Capital equipment without lifelong maintenance is destined for the scrap heap. Robust training throughout careers should become mandatory.
Encourage robust flexible scheduling for employees of all ages
Employers have made modest strides in moving from rigid to more flexible workplaces — especially for younger employees with family commitments. Only more varied, robust and lifelong practices can afford them to aging workers as well. Part-time work needs finally to be embraced.
Provide ongoing, on-demand financial wellness counseling
Restoring pensions or greatly increasing contributions to 401ks would be both desirable – and costly. A portion of the savings that accrue from ending pensions can be applied to the #1 form of financial support employees want: annual, free individual retirement planning sessions. Unsupported 401ks are inadequate.
Implement and promote flexible and phased retirement options
For two decades observers of the impending retirement crisis have called for extended work and flexible and phased retirement. A few employers have offered them successfully. The time has come to close the gap in both policy and program. Flexible and phased retirement should become as accessible as today’s telework.