According to AARP, “as people live longer, healthier lives, many will want or need to work longer.” In line with trends dating back to 2000, the U.S. is expected to continue to see significant shifts towards an aging workforce. By 2030, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that the share of U.S. workers over age 75 is expected to grow over 96%, while all workers over age 65 are expected to grow over 41%.
Older workers can bring immense value to their workplaces. They can bring institutional knowledge, professionalism and maturity, among countless other qualities to the table.
A 2020 AARP survey looked at 6,000 employers across 36 countries and found that 83% of employers felt that having multi-generational employees was critical to their success.
Despite the value and concentration of older employees, Georgia struggles with caring for its older workers. When comparing indicators including income tax rate, life expectancy, Medicare coverage, income and labor participation rate, Georgia ranks 38th out of the 50 states according to Seniorly. Additionally, older people are leaving the workforce for early retirement, as the risks from potentially contracting COVID-19 in the workplace are too high for many. Not only is this causing businesses to lose key talent, but it is also contributing to national labor shortages.
How can Georgia better support its aging workforce?
One of the best ways to support a workforce is to ensure livable wages and access to comprehensive benefits. Another way that employers can support their older workers is by providing flexwork options that allow employees to customize their schedule in a way that lets employees work when they are at their best. In a recent FlexJobs survey, 76% of respondents aged 50 and over said that flexibility in work was the best way to find work-life balance.
We spoke with AARP and Mary Blumberg from the Atlanta Regional Commission Center for Aging and Independent Services about how flexible work arrangements can benefit older employees.
Flexible scheduling can take several forms. It can mean still working 8 hours daily but outside of the traditional 9-5. Flexible schedules can also take the form of part-time work altogether, whether by working fewer or shorter workdays. For older people, there can be a few key benefits to working fewer hours at a given job:
Staying Active in Early Retirement: For older people looking towards retirement but who aren’t ready to be retired full-time, the option to work part-time can be a great option. It can give employees the ability to balance staying busy with some work while also having flexibility to pursue their passions in retirement. It provides a sort of best of both worlds option for employees. An AARP study found that many older people would defer retirement if they were able to work less hours and have a flexible schedule.
Providing flexible scheduling and reduced hours for older employees can also help employers. For employers, part-time work from older employees can mean retaining key institutional knowledge with time for it to be passed on before employees enter full retirement.
Pursue Multiple Passions
For older employees, the option to work a flexible schedule with reduced hours can help them to job share. This can be a great opportunity for someone who has dedicated their career to a particular area to explore a new one and lend ideas from a lifetime of experience to a new role.
For employers, this can mean bringing in high quality talent to help consult on individual projects or teams without having to pay the price tag for a full-time employee.
In combination with flexible work hours, the option to telework can be a great way for older adults to stay engaged in the workforce for as long as they want. Here are a few ways it can benefit:
Supports Older Employees’ Health
As they get older, employees may have less desire to go into the office each day – especially if they are not working full-time. Now, in the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting the health of older workers is especially critical. For people over 50, there is increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19, so the idea of going into the office may not only be scary but may even cause older workers to leave the workforce altogether. For those already nearing retirement, they may not feel the risk to their health is worth continuing to work. And this means that businesses lose talent. Providing the option to telework can help older workers feel better protected while keeping their skills in the workplace.
For older workers who may be looking to continue some level of work but are looking to forgo some of the stressors and hassles of working, telework can be a great option. Older employees may be tired of commuting hours each week to get into the office, especially after having the opportunity to work remotely during the pandemic. So, the availability of telework as an option can help older employees continue to do the work they love without requiring the commute. It not only gives people time back in their day to enjoy their lives, but it also helps them to have more financial resources to use when they’re ready to fully enter retirement.
Want to learn more about flexible work arrangements? GCO can help.