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, including phased retirement
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 mainstream them for aging workers as well. Part-time work and phased retirement need finally to be fully embraced.
Strengthen all forms of pensions and Social Security
Restoring the “three-legged stool” of retirement security may require extended work and enhanced saving opportunities. Of equal or greater importance is the strengthening of various forms of pensions, including 401ks, IRAs and Social Security, which remains millions of people’s most reliable retirement income.
Provide ongoing, on-demand financial wellness counseling
Restoring pensions or greatly increasing contributions to 401ks is highly desirable. A complementary step is the application of a portion of the savings that accrue from ending defined benefit pensions to the #1 form of financial support employees want: annual, free and well-vetted individual retirement planning sessions. Enhanced pensions without ongoing guidance risk inadequate retirement preparation.