“The survey of 600 employers, which was conducted last year, was prompted by the increased interest in the issue of phased retirement on the part of both employers and employees. This increased interest reflects to some extent the current tight labor markets, which are projected to become even tighter in the next decade as the size of the workforce continues to shrink.”
-1999 Watson Wyatt Report: “Phased Retirement: Reshaping the End of Work“
Yes, twenty years ago researchers, aging workers, advocates, and employers saw the need to reshape the path to retirement. Today’s workers are living many years longer than they did at the time of this Watson Wyatt survey on the desire for phased retirement. Yet they are still let go in their 50s and early 60s. And flexible and phased retirement is no more common now than it was then.
How long can aging workers wait and hope while others talk, talk, talk?
A great gap has grown every year for today and tomorrow’s aging workers. On one side are the choices they would like to see and on the other, the traditional options employers offer.
A recent SHRM survey found that 64% of workers age 50-64 hope to work longer and ease into retirement, while only 5% of employers offer such options as formal programs.
In stark contrast, more flexible ways of working have progressed for other groups. Over the last two decades skeptical companies have accepted the once-controversial practice of work-at-home. Millions of employees are now able to work from home offices a day or two a week and many tens of thousands do their jobs there full-time. Flextime is a common phenomenon. And a generation of women has better balanced work and family with access to regular part-time work.
Bridging the phased retirement gap will require powerful tools—and stepping up
But the practice of flexible and phased retirement languishes. As 60 million Boomers are poised to exit the workplace for good, their choices are as dated and limited as ever. A familiar refrain dominates what passes for (re)thinking on this issue. Employers express reluctance due to concerns about potential age discrimination, benefit complexities, and losing control over who leaves employment and when. Aging employees fear that signaling interest in any form of retirement will mark them for early termination or for being relegated to becoming contractors without benefits.'As 60 million Boomers are poised to exit the workplace for good, their choices are as dated and limited as ever. Fortunately, there is a solution to these challenges.'Click To Tweet
Fortunately there is a solution to these challenges. A few far-sighted employers have set aside negative attitudes about aging workers and added phased retirement to their flex menus. My consulting firm Rupert Organizational Design has been a leading provider of the core tools that make them possible. We believe that it’s time to put a version of these proven tools in the hands of millions of aging workers who face early dismissal for the sin of aging-while-working. Thus we are donating versions of these tools to Respectful Exits. These can be adapted and broadened to provide options and guidance to those who need them—NOW. But we need your help.
Respectful Exits CEO Paul Rupert describes The Phazer™
What You Can Do
Respectful Exits is building out The Phazer™—a powerful tool to break the phased retirement logjam. Its rapid development and wide distribution will help end premature dismissal and expand opportunities for aging workers to continue to contribute to our national health and wealth.
With your help, we can make the right to work longer and to choose flexible paths to retirement as common as flextime and work-from-home. Aging workers should accept nothing less.
Donate here to help us create a better future for aging pioneers. From now through December 31, your contributions will be matched 2-to-1 by generous sponsors.
Our early success can lead to a long-overdue Christmas present for the parents and grandparents who have helped build the companies that house us all.