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In Today’s Workforce, is 65 the New Black?

In Today’s Workforce, is 65 the New Black?
Posted on Tuesday, October 15, 2019 by Businessolver Team

They might not be the largest segment of the workforce, but Baby Boomers could just be the most interesting.


The reason? They are bucking demographic trends when it comes to work. The oft-cited statistic that 10,000 Boomers are turning 65 each day and retiring at a record pace is only part of the story.

Remember, Boomers are a huge generation—over 74 million strong—so while 10,000 is sizable it should be considered in proportion, including in relation to the overall number of Boomers in the workforce. The Pew Research Center estimates the actual impact is around 5,900 Boomers leaving the workforce each day—still substantial, but 40% less daunting.

However, there’s more to Boomers and their relationship to work. Employers need to pay attention and be prepared to both manage and take advantage of the overall trends.

So, while many are packing up their desks and turning in their badges, unlike previous generations, Boomers are actually staying in the workforce longer. Workforce participation among people over 65 is growing, and the US Department of Labor projects that between 2016 and 2024, US workforce participation will increase most for people over 75. This includes people who never retired along with those who left and then ultimately rejoined the workforce.

There are myriad reasons for the shift. Some are positive, including more people being healthier and living longer, along with liking the work they do and wanting to continue.

For others, continued employment is an economic necessity. They haven’t saved enough to retire, or they lost prime earning time in the last major recession. Some are spending resources to support family members, or they have student loan debts—for their own reskilling or for a child or grandchild.

Whatever the reasons, the reality is that more older employees are looking to stay on or return to the workforce. It’s very possible that at least some of your Boomer employees aren’t planning on jumping ship when they hit 65, and they might actually be looking to stay on or transition out.

And, that is great news for employers who continue to face tough competition for seasoned talent.

But, how do HR and benefits pros support this aging workforce?

Employees 65 and older have different needs when it comes to benefits, and there are ways to address them.

  1. Full-time employees over 65 have access to Medicare, but your group plan is still primary. Navigating Medicare can be confusing when someone is still working, so consider offering support to help people understand Medicare enrollment and its implications. This can ensure your valuable employees are able to remain engaged and focused on work instead of spending time trying to sort through benefits intricacies.  
  2. Consider the needs of parttimers. Forty percent of employees over 65 aren’t working a 40-hour week, so they might not be eligible for your full-time benefits. While these employees likely have Medicare, offering access to coverage that supplements Medicare could help you both recruit and retain experienced resources.
  3. Make sure technology isn’t just for Millennials. While older employees are fully capable of using apps and chatbots, they might also want more or different support—like access to a member services advocate or the option for printed materials. When delivering benefits, the employee experience matters, so it’s important to employ an end-to-end solution that provides a modern CX (customer experience) incorporating all potential touch points and supporting all employees, not matter their age or interface preferences.

While Baby Boomers are getting older, the common belief that they’ll all retire at age 65 (or before!) just isn’t holding water. In fact, the opposite is true. More than any modern generation before them, Boomers are staying on the job longer. While some will take the traditional route to retirement, others want or need to keep working full-time. Still others may be willing to transition out of the workforce over a longer period or cut their hours and stay indefinitely.

For employers, this represents a significant opportunity to keep tried-and-trusted employees productive and engaged, especially in the face of a tight labor market. Benefits are a strategic lever for employers looking to tap this potential, both in retaining talent and recruiting people who have already retired from other organizations.

It’s time to start reimagining the employee benefits experience. Learn more about what your employees are expecting below.