Survey: Older Workers Want To Phase Out

One-third of older workers would delay normal retirement if offered a phased retirement program, according to a Watson Wyatt survey, Phased Retirement: Aligning Employer Programs with Worker Preferences, released March 22. Additionally, more than half (57%) of current workers already in a phased retirement plan entered into the arrangement voluntarily to have more leisure time. When asked their primary reason for choosing phased retirement instead of full retirement, 42% indicated they enjoyed their work, while 28% said they needed the income. "Worker attitudes about retirement are changing dramatically, and employers have some catching up to do," says Janemarie Mulvey, assistant director of Watson Wyatt's Research & Information Center and one of the study's authors. "We found that a significant gap exists between what older workers are looking for and the opportunities employers provide. For example, a majority of survey participants would like to work fewer hours late in their careers, but less than half of them expect their employer to offer this opportunity." When asked how they would like to phase, many older workers said they hope to work part-time (63%) or work more flexible hours (48%) before retiring completely. Nearly two-thirds (63%) of current workers aged 50 and older indicated that they would like to phase in an entirely different career. Among current phasers, 80% work flexible hours and 79% work part-time. Two-thirds (67%) have less responsibility in their current job compared with their career job. "As the economy recovers and baby boomers reach traditional retirement ages, labor shortages will re-emerge as an important issue," says Valerie Paganelli, a senior consultant with Watson Wyatt. "Employers would be wise to consider phased retirement strategies that address older workers' needs and that will help maintain an adequate supply of talent and experience in the years to come." The survey queried 1,000 Americans between the ages of 50 and 70, including full-time workers who are approaching retirement, workers currently in a phased retirement arrangement and those who are fully retired.

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