We can remake our futures now. We start by believing things can change.
“We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”
In America, a decent job has always been the ticket to the good life. While many people face barriers to entry, the national proclamation has been simple: be a good student, work hard, get ahead, save, and retire as early as possible. Our unrivaled economy has been built on that premise and promise.
Today that formula is under threat on every front. Private pensions have largely disappeared, and the student debt of many younger workers makes saving very difficult. Many businesses trade in loyal and committed workers as young as 50 for “less expensive” newcomers. Limited savings that weren’t wiped out by the Great Recession are inadequate to sustain a healthy retirement. Predictable retirement has been replaced by the need for continued employment and the insecurity of the gig economy.
Business-as-usual in corporate America has deepened these problems. One action we can and must take to reverse these trends is to change the priority of employers, focusing on the great value of aging workers—their “birds in the hand.”
The Path Forward
Respectful Exits is committed to changing employer practices to insure a fairer future for all aging workers. Alone we cannot resist these powerful trends. Together, we can raise our voices and take collective action to restore extended careers and respectful paths to a better retirement. Acting nationally and locally on our Longevity Agenda, we can:
- Extend productive working years and resulting income;
- Enhance the ability to contribute to 401k and other pensions;
- Enable years of continued engagement and satisfaction;
- Encourage robust knowledge sharing and mentoring;
- Allow gradual retirement on a healthy, affordable path.
After lifetimes of hard work and building our collective future, we deserve Respectful Exits. Working together we can make them happen.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”
Insightful employers, like wise investors, take the long view. They focus not on bright, shiny objects but on the true and proven value of their assets. Yesterday’s assumptions and practices about the nature and value of talent have been thrown up in the air. Today’s challenges of tight labor markets and key knowledge embedded in a mature workforce have been highlighted by the ongoing exit of 60 million Boomers from the workforce.
Major employers have spent the past few decades cutting costs by moderating pension plans, restraining wage growth, and turning to early retirement to jettison “expensive workers.” Aging workers paid a price for these changes. After the Great Recession, stock markets and profits are at record highs and the recent tax bill has strengthened balance sheets.
From this enviable position, employers are facing the consequential question raised increasingly by far-sighted business leaders: will they retain this largesse for shareholders alone, or will they take the long view and help address the needs of all stakeholders and the larger society. Will they change their practices toward the aging workforce?
The Path Forward
While some employers are beginning to rethink their policies and practices, growing media accounts document some companies doubling down on past practice. They are systematically terminating as many as thousands of their “birds in the hand” for the promise of younger, cheaper “birds in the bush.” Respectful Exits considers these approaches short-sighted, backward, and socially dangerous.
To advance the goals of all stakeholders, Respectful Exits urges all employers to adopt our Longevity Agenda:
- End the 65 “sell-by” date as a mandatory or informal “retirement age”
- Practice career-long development and training of all staff
- Encourage robust flexible scheduling for employees of all ages
- Provide ongoing, on-demand financial wellness counseling
- Implement and promote flexible and phased retirement options
The time to act is now for employer, employee, and social health.