Liz Weston: Companies are also flunking retirement planning


Plenty has been written about American workers’ failure to plan adequately for retirement. Their employers seem to be doing an even worse job.

Only 1 in 10 large employers offers a formal phased-retirement program that lets workers cut back their hours or responsibilities before they quit work entirely, according to the 2018 Longer Working Careers Survey by professional services consultant Willis Towers Watson. Fewer than 1 in 3 of the companies surveyed offered their employees the option to work part time or switch to a less demanding job, according to the survey, which polled 143 large U.S. companies that employ 2.9 million people.

That’s too bad, because flexible work arrangements don’t just help people who need or want to work longer. These accommodations also could help workers who are starting families, pursuing degrees or caring for aging parents.

PROGRAMS VARY WIDELY

Formal phased retirement programs can take many forms. Examples cited in a 201 7 report by the Government Accountability Office include:

–One program that allows workers who are at least 55 years old with 10 years of service to cut their hours by 20 per cent with a 20 per cent cut in pay, but keep health insurance and pension accrual benefits.

–Another that allows employees 60 and older with five years of service to reduce their hours by 20 per cent to 50 per cent, or even more if they’re willing to lose their health insurance benefit.

–An employer that allows workers 55 and older with seven years of service to negotiate their own “glide path” to retirement, ramping down from full time to full retirement while retaining benefits.

–Yet another company that allows any employee to switch to less stressful or complex duties or phase to part-time work, retaining health insurance if they work at least 25 hours a week.

Employers that offer phased retirement typically say the plans are good for business, the GAO report found.

Phased retirement allows both the company and the worker to adjust over time, rather than scrambling to deal with an abrupt departure. Businesses can plan better since they know well in advance when an employee plans to leave, plus they can arrange for experienced workers to train or mentor younger ones, transferring years (and sometimes decades) of employer-specific knowledge.

“Otherwise, years of institutional knowledge could be walking out the door,” says Susan Weinstock, vice-president for financial resiliency programming at AARP.

FOR EMPLOYERS, RETIREMENT CAN DRAIN TALENT AND KNOWLEDGE

Most employers realize retirement is a looming issue, with 83 per cent of the large employers Willis Towers Watson polled saying significant numbers of their workers are approaching retirement age. In fact, 54 per cent of employers believe the loss of talent from retiring workers will be more significant than other labour market risks in the next five years, the survey found.

Employers may not fully grasp, however, how many people may need to keep working because they haven’t saved enough , says retirement trends expert Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of the non-profit Transamerica Institute and Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies.

For example, 7 out of …read more

Source:: Nationalpost – News

      

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