Monday, May 14, 2007

Survey: Do Employers Really Want Older Workers?

Even though the policy community generally thinks that employers will create opportunities for employees to work longer, with many observers saying that because employers will face labor shortages and a loss of “institutional intelligence” when the boomers exit the labor force, employers will be pushed to seek out older workers, results of a new survey raise a cautionary flag.

As part of continuing research performed by the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, a survey of nationally representative employers has found that employers generally considered older workers at least as attractive as younger workers and a second survey has found that employers expect that half their employees over age 50 will lack the resources needed to retire at their organization’s traditional retirement age and half of those who lack resources will want to work at least two years longer than similar workers have in the past.

However, further examination of the second survey in "Employers Lukewarm About Retaining Older Workers", by Andrew D. Eschtruth, Steven A. Sass, and Jean-Pierre Aubry, states that employers "are only slightly more likely than not to accommodate even half their employees who will want to stay on." The paper concludes:
For working longer to become a viable response to the retirement income challenge, workers must be willing to extend their careers and employers must be willing to employ them. The results from the Center’s surveys of employers paint a mixed picture about the prospects for longer worklives. Employers surveyed expect one quarter of workers currently in their 50s will be unprepared for retirement and will respond by wanting to stay on the job at least two years past the firm’s traditional retirement age. But employers are lukewarm about retaining even half. This is not good news. It suggests the possibility of a messy and uncomfortable mismatch with large numbers of older workers wanting to stay on while employers prefer that they do not.
Source: Boston College Center for Retirement Research
Issues in Brief (May 2007)

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