LETTER TO COLLEAGUES
The old model and dream of working to 65 and retiring for a decade of pension-funded leisure is outdated and broken. From now until 2029, 10,000 Americans will turn 65 each day. Many of these 40 million+ “Boomers” have been and will be retired prematurely. Half of workers aged 55 have $14,000 or less in savings to finance their retirement. They face perilous futures.
Since the 1980s, we have added twenty years to our average lifespans. The time has come for our workplace practices to catch up with this new longevity. Rather than modify the way we work to extend the length of careers, enhance pensions, and promote wage growth and saving, too many have pursued a different path. Vibrant contributors are dismissed in their 50s or early 60s and pensions have been eroded while the larger social safety net is being shredded.
Today most of our firms are enjoying record stock market values and profits. The recent tax bill has strengthened already healthy balance sheets. As the larger society wrestles with an impending retirement crisis, we must address our share of that challenge and answer these questions:
Will we apply our abundant resources to the benefit of shareholders alone? Or will we embrace the socially responsible choice of addressing the needs of all stakeholders?
Will those who have long contributed to the country’s and our companies’ unprecedented growth and prosperity share in our collective success or be left to fend for themselves?
The undersigned believe that the time has come to address the needs of all stakeholders—shareholders, employees and communities. We share the goals of Respectful Exits and are committed to rethinking our policies and practices regarding aging workers. We can, and intend to revise our practices in ways that strengthen the economy and build win-win outcomes for our businesses and our aging workforces. We support the Longevity Agenda of Respectful Exits and urge our colleagues to do the same.
- 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
These changes alone will not solve the crisis we are facing. But they are an important part of doing so. These modest shifts in policy and practice, already implemented in part by some employers, are both affordable and a wise investment. It’s time to get started.