“In the United States, the shift to defined contribution plans changed the [commitment to retirement], leaving too many workers unprepared...In response, companies must embrace a greater responsibility to help workers navigate retirement. In doing so, companies will create not just a more stable and engaged workforce, but also a more economically secure population.”

Larry Fink, CEO of six-trillion dollar BlackRock Investments, 2019 Letter to CEOs Tweet

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:

1

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.

2

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.  

3

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.

4

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.

5

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.