New Opportunities for an Aging Work Force

New Opportunities for an Aging Work Force

Robert Metoli, 57, worked for eight years as a skilled technician at Lee Spring, a small Brooklyn manufacturer. His job required his standing all day and it took a toll; debilitating back pain meant he would have to quit a job he liked. The company’s CEO didn’t want to lose a good employee, so he gave him an opportunity to join a team of engineers that created work orders for jobs going out into the factory. The company scheduled and paid for the necessary training.

An experiment that worked

This mutually beneficial information-sharing between Metoli and the engineers was successful, and he’s now able to continue working, free of pain. A New York Times story, Reaping the Benefits of an Aging Work Force, by Kerry Hannon, shows how other employers are finding creative ways to keep their older workers on the job. They value their loyalty, experience and work ethic and flesh out their workforce with GenXers and millennials.

Trends and statistics on older workers and retirement

  • Many people, especially those who own their own businesses, don’t have any immediate plans to retire, or perhaps plan to semi-retire.
  • More than half of baby boomers plan to work past age 65 or not retire at all, according to a report by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.
  • Many worry that they will outlive their savings, that Social Security benefits will be reduced, and that they may someday need expensive long-term medical care.
  • Two age groups, 65 to 74 years old and 75 and older, are projected to have increasing annual rates of labor-force growth, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
  • A problem associated with this growing demographic of older workers: Negative attitudes about the cost of older workers, their stamina, their technological ability and their enthusiasm for learning new ways of doing things.

A rising number of employers are hiring, retaining and supporting workers over 50

  • In our example above, Lee Spring was among 13 New York businesses and nonprofits that received Age Smart Employer Awards through this program.
  • The employers offer training and education opportunities and flexible scheduling; adapt physical tasks to the abilities of workers; provide advancement and leadership training for workers of all ages; retrain older workers; and allow phased retirement.
  • According to one expert, Dr. Linda Fried, Dean of the Mailman School: “We’ve increased our life expectancy by 50% in the last 100 years. Now we have to design society for longer lives.”
  • 100 businesses and nonprofits entered the 2017 Age Smart Employer competition, double the number in 2016. Here are four other companies with pioneering programs for older workers.

1. Military shipbuilding company, Huntington Ingalls Industries, operates The Apprentice School in Newport News, VA

  • No age limit. The company’s overall workforce of 22,000 is composed of 38% baby boomers, 40% millennials and 20% GenXers.
  • It takes a long time to become a master shipbuilder; this company values experience.
  • Keeping its workforce engaged with their work, there are intergenerational mentoring programs. Younger workers mentor older ones in the use of technology.

2. PKF O’Connor Davies is part of a network of independent accounting and advisory firms in 440 cities and 150 countries

  • Their 800 employees, ranging in age from 21 to 83, have the option to work shorter work weeks or flexible hours.
  • Some employees have relocated to offices closer to home for easier commutes or they telecommute part time.
  • Employees nearing retirement have reduced their hours or work as consultants.
  • “Hiring older workers for our team has been a homerun for us as well as for workers about to go into retirement or in retirement,” said Thomas F. Blaney, a partner and director of the firm’s Foundation Services. “It’s not about age really. We just want talented people.”

3. Silvercup Studiosis a New York, family-owned film and television production company

  • It was the film site for “The Sopranos,” “Girls” and “Sex and the City”.
  • Two workers recently celebrated their 30th anniversaries with Silvercup.
  • People with experience makes sense—they’re more settled and loyal. The costs of acquisition and training are high.

3. Michigan furniture maker, Steelcase, offers workers a phased retirement program

The company began a phased retirement program in 2012.

  • For the past year and a half, David Rinard, 62, director of environmental special projects, has been transitioning toward retirement.
  • He started his career at Steelcase in 1979 as an assistant environmental engineer and moved steadily up the ranks to director of global environmental performance, a position he held for 13 years.
  • Today, he’s semiretired. He earns an income without worrying about health care coverage before he is eligible for Medicare at 65.

A wide range of retirement-related conversations

Living Trusts are an important service for us, and many of our clients are in their 60s or 70s, so retirement-related topics are frequently part of our office dialog. If a Living Trust is something you keep putting off, there’s still time to complete your Trust in 2018. Make an appointment today by contacting us at one of our three Bay Area officesOur dedicated team is helpful, compassionate and affordable.