“Students fear going to school. Aging workers fear retiring. It wasn’t supposed to be this way—and doesn’t have to be. We can be the change that’s needed.”
Paul Rupert • CEO, Respectful Exits
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. Younger students face danger in the classroom and massive debts for college. Loyal and committed workers are tossed aside as businesses change and the workforce ages. Limited savings can’t match vanishing pensions or survive the Great Recession. Predictable retirement has been replaced by the need for continued employment and the insecurity of the Gig economy.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, and in order to reverse these trends we must focus on opportunities for employers to contribute to their solution.
Respectful Exits is committed to changing employer practices to insure a fairer future for 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 work life and income
- Enhance pension contributions
- Continue engagement, contribution, and satisfaction
- Participate in robust knowledge transfer and mentoring
- Ease into 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.
“To prosper over time, every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to all of its stakeholders, including shareholders, employees and customers.”
Larry Fink • CEO, BlackRock, $6 trillion investment fund
Insightful employers, like wise investors, take the long view. They balance short term business demands with an eye to changing demographics, the arc of talent and the requirements of a truly healthy economy. They recognize that thriving enterprises cannot succeed in an unhealthy society.
Large corporations which set the standard for broader employer practices have spent the past few decades cutting costs in a variety of ways. Pension plans are on their way to extinction. Early retirement has been used widely and systematically to cut staff and costs. Private sector unions and their bargaining power have been dramatically reduced.
Aging workers have paid a price for these changes.
On the other hand, with the end of the Great Recession, the stock markets—and corporate profits—are at record highs. The recent tax bill is a boon to balance sheets through reduced annual rates and the ability to bring home billions of dollars from offshore accounts.
From this enviable position, employers are facing the consequential question raised by Larry Fink: will they retain this largesse for shareholders alone, or will they take steps to remedy some of the harm that has been done to the aging American workforce?
Farsighted employers will recognize that the broken work and retirement system will ultimately do as much harm to the economy as to its workforce. A strategy of driving 20% of the population into dependence on an under-funded social safety net is an invitation to social decline. And a consumer-driven society that turns potential workers and customers into retirees unable to spend is shooting itself in the foot.
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; and
- Implement and promote flexible and phased retirement options.
The time to act is now for employer, employee, and social health.