Advocacy

The benefits and gains of extended work and flexible and phased retirement have been spelled out throughout this site. As we collect individual strategies and success stories through the The Refresher newsletter and the Respectful Exits website, we will share those as well.

Dispelling common myths

As background for your proposal and conversations, you may encounter some common concerns and objections. See the “Top 7 Myths & Stubborn Facts About Aging Workers which addresses some of these points below.

Top 7 Myths & Stubborn Facts About Aging Workers

Myth 1 - Older workers are clogging up the pipeline for millennials.

Fact – This “limited pie” argument rests on the long-discredited “lump of labor” theory that employment and its effect on the larger economy is a zero-sum game. Extending older worker employment adds to a growing economy that supports more jobs.

Myth 2 - You can't teach an old dog new tricks.

Fact – Seasoned workers who have integrated a range of new technologies for decades often adapt innovation into complex organizations better than less patient but native users of “perfect” technologies. And with quality, ongoing training, aging workers are learning workers.

Myth 3 - The longer people work, the more expensive they become.

Fact – True costs account for the value of accumulated skills and organizational know-how. Studies show that older workers also have half the turnover rate (and expensive replacement costs),  show better attendance levels and use fewer sick days than younger workers.

Myth 4 - Flexible and phased retirement are too risky and difficult to do.

Fact – Commonly cited employer concerns about insuperable pension challenges, age discrimination risks and IRS obstacles have not proven difficult or impossible to manage in many companies with successful initiatives. Thoughtful design avoids major problems.

Myth 5 - 401(k)s, pensions, and Social Security enable adequate retirements.

Fact – Typical retirees can’t afford retirement: 

–Average monthly Social Security: $1,404. 

–Median pensions (if existing): $772– 1,464/mo. 

–401K of $67,000 (aged 55-64); income: $224/mo. 

–Mortgage/rent, food, meds, healthcare add up

You do the math.

Myth 6 - Employees and government are responsible for solving these problems.

Fact – Employers set the stage for workplace compensation, pensions and tenure. If they take no responsibility for the financial future of those who build their businesses, who should? Strong profits, reduced tax burdens and the elimination of pensions argues for companies to do more. 

When employees and governments face budget constraints, there is only so much they can do.

Myth 7 - AARP and other senior groups are already taking care of this.

Fact – This may be the greatest myth of all. AARP is the association of Retired Persons. It and others provide valuable advocacy and services for those who have been discarded prematurely. These groups do not educate, advocate or mobilize to compel employers to redesign their approach to aging at-risk employees.

Respectful Exits does this – and only this.

The wisdom of crowds

We have noted throughout this site the potential risk of raising the issue of retirement and experiencing an adverse impact as a result. In addition to exercising your best judgment in this matter, another strategy to consider is drawing on  the strength of numbers.

It is likely the case that you are not the only aging worker in your organization facing the prospect of premature retirement. You might consider developing a group of like-minded people who can support each other in developing and making proposals to your managers and employer.

The numbers speak volumes

Your individual situation occurs in the context of a larger set of social challenges. There is a virtual sea of data and information that outline the problem. The four essential facts below provide a brief summary.

BOOMER EXODUS

From 2011 until 2029, 10,000 Boomers a day—or 60 million people—turned and will turn 65.

That’s the equivalent of one-and-a-half Californias.

INCREASED LONGEVITY

Life expectancy is up 20 years, yet workers are discarded at 65 or earlier.

Social Security set the retirement eligibility age at 65 in 1936.

IMPENDING POVERTY

50% of workers 50-64 have less than $14,000 in savings to last 20-30 years.

Invested, that yields $50 per month.

RETIREMENT DEMAND

64% of workers hope to work longer and ease into retirement, while 5% of employers offer formal programs.

The demand increases, but the supply does not.

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