On the Clock

"Phased Retirement" is a National Dilemma

OntheClockIt sounds like a credible solution for older workers: Why not allow them to phase out of their jobs into retirement? The reality, of course, is it is easier said than done. The Government Accounting Office (GAO) reported on phased retirement programs and found that, while the number of older workers in the labor market has increased in the last decade, "most individuals ages 61 to 66 who were still working maintained a full-time work schedule." A quarter (25 percent) of them had planned to reduce their hours as they transitioned to retirement, but less than 15 percent actually reported being partly retired or gradually retiring from their career jobs.

According to a review by the GAO, "formal phased retirement programs are relatively uncommon." They appear to be more common among employers with larger technical and professional workforces. Industries with skilled workers or with labor shortages have a higher motivation to offer phased retirement to older workers because these employees are more difficult to replace.

In addition, formal phased retirement programs are challenging for companies to institute. One of the reasons for this is compliance with existing laws. The GAO reviewed a particular study that indicated 71 percent of large employers "agreed that regulatory complexities and ambiguities involving federal tax and age discrimination laws impact their ability to offer phased retirement programs." Still, the GAO found that those employers who did institute phased retirement programs found them beneficial because of factors such as worker retention, knowledge transfer, and workplace planning.

The sad truth is phased retirement is something of a national dilemma. Boomers want to, and in many cases, have to work. Those individuals who are in professional careers or are highly skilled at their jobs are valuable employees, but more and more companies seem to throw them onto a scrap heap and opt to replace them with younger, less expensive (but less knowledgeable) workers. Only when it directly benefits the company, or the company's senior management is enlightened enough to see the value, will that company consider implementing any kind of phased retirement. Obviously, laws and regulations that make phased retirement unattractive are not helping the situation.

There is no easy solution to the phased retirement dilemma. It is simply not a national trend or, it seems, a national priority. It may actually be up to you, the individual worker, to impress upon your employer the value of allowing you to phase into retirement.


Boomers and the "Hot" Job Market

OntheClockWith the unemployment rate at its lowest point in 18 years, the job market is "sizzling hot," writes career/retirement coach Nancy Collamer. Reporting on a work conference sponsored by Indeed.com, Collamer heard that the job market is tight and talent is hard to find, although wages are generally not going up in keeping with the labor demand.

Still, a robust job market should be good news for Boomers, shouldn't it? Well, yes and no. On the positive side, a Boomer with experience in a field considered desirable by employers may have an easier time than ever securing a part-time or full-time position. On the negative side, there is still plenty of age discrimination, and there is little Boomers can do about it. The fact is employers can interview all they want for an open position, and once they have several candidates available, more often than not they will pick younger over older.

Dust off your resume if you're in a job that you'd like to leave, or if you want to re-enter the workforce. If an employer cannot fill a position and your background and experience are an excellent fit, the market is such that you could be offered a full-time position. Keep in mind, however, that your salary expectations may have to be adjusted. Also, there is always the possibility that you can work part-time or become a contract worker if you don't want a full-time position or, at the very least, you may be able to negotiate flexible hours.

Interestingly, this might be an ideal time to see if your former employer needs help. In an article for The New York Times, Claudia Dreifus profiles several retirees who returned to work years after retiring because their employers had open positions they needed to fill. For example, a 60-year old registered nurse who retired was rehired by a hospital as a freelance nurse for 24 hours per week at a respectable $60 per hour.

A booming job market could be good for some Boomers -- but not for all. That's why it still makes a lot of sense to explore freelance work or self-employment as an option if you want to continue to work.


Another Way to Look at Retirement: Don't Do It

OntheClockWe're not all fortunate enough to have jobs we might want to work at forever. But some of us are doing just that -- and instead of reinventing retirement, these folks are avoiding it.

Take the case of Judge Jack Weinstein, a spry 96-year old who has no intention of retiring. He was appointed some fifty years ago but isn't about to give up his profession now. He tells The New York Times, “I’m a better judge, in some respects, than when I was younger. I don’t remember names. But I listen more. And I’m more compassionate. I see things from more angles. If you are doing interesting work, you want to continue.”

Other elders love their jobs. Consider Warren Buffett, still an active investor at Berkshire-Hathaway at the age of 87. Or Adolfo Calovini, perhaps less famous than Buffett but no less active. Also mentioned in The New York Times article, the 82-year old Calovini teaches English as a second language at a New York high school. An immigrant. Calovini has a special understanding of the students who take his class. He tells The Times, “To me, teaching is about life. This is what I do. I can’t see a time when I wouldn’t.”

Weinstein, Buffett and Calovini are just examples of the 1-1/2 million people still working after the age of 75, reports the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The Bureau estimates that almost 11 percent of the workforce will be age 75 or older by 2026.

If you have a job you love, consider yourself lucky -- maybe it'll be yours for life.


Slowly, the Older Worker Market Improves

OntheClockWhile the nation's unemployment rate continues to be low, the unemployment rate among workers 55-plus is deceiving. That's partly because those older workers who are employed may be working part-time when they really want to work full-time. There is some good news for older workers, though: An overall low unemployment rate means companies may be loosening up their hiring practices and offering positions to more mature individuals.

According to AARP, CVS, United Health Group, AT&T, and The Hartford are four examples of companies that are actively recruiting older workers. CVS, for example, promotes positions through an initiative the corporation calls "Talent Is Ageless." Almost one-quarter of CVS employees are over 50 years of age, and older workers are matched with younger, less experienced peers to offer them valuable guidance. The Hartford, through "The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence," actively seeks employees from senior centers and retirement communities.

AARP is encouraging companies to join in. The AARP Employer Pledge Program is a national effort to help employers solve their current and future staffing challenges and direct job seekers to employers that value and are hiring experienced workers. Working with AARP, participating organizations have signed a pledge that they:

  • Believe in equal opportunity for all workers, regardless of age
  • Believe that 50+ workers should have a level playing field in their ability to compete for and obtain jobs
  • Recognize the value of experienced workers
  • Recruit across diverse age groups and consider all applicants on an equal basis.

AARP also offers helpful web-based resources specifically for 50-plus workers:
 http://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/income/back-to-work-50-plus/

It is encouraging to see at least some companies acknowledge the value of experience and maturity that older workers bring to a workplace.  


"Redeployment" isn't Just a Military Term

OntheClockRetirement expert Kerry Hannon writes frequently about working past the traditional retirement age. She recently told MarketWatch that, when it comes to switching jobs in your 50s or 60s, "The truth of the matter is a lot of what you can do is redeploying skills you have." She suggests promoting skills you already have on a resume and says for older job switchers, it's about "being resilient and being flexible."

I think the concept of "redeployment" is a solid way to view the all-too-common dilemma of seeking new employment. If you're a Boomer who has lost a job you had for many years, or you're simply burned out and want a new opportunity, you will likely be faced with age discrimination. While you cannot overcome this basic bias completely, you can represent yourself and your skills in the best possible light. Marketing what you really have going for you can make a big difference.

It pays to ask yourself some serious questions about your competency in various areas and make sure your expertise in these areas is emphasized on your resume, in your cover letter, and at an interview. "Soft skills," such as listening and communicating well or being analytical, could also be viewed as very valuable by a potential employer. Hannon says such skills can be advantageous, regardless of the field you're in. "What a lot of employers look for if they want you to be a part of the team is if you have social skills."

So think about it: How could you redeploy your current skills and experience into a brand new job, potentially in a new field of interest to you? Is it possible to leverage your professional background, your specific expertise, and your soft skills so that you look like a very distinctive and attractive job candidate? In addition, in redeploying your abilities, do you recognize that you may have to be more flexible in accepting a new position in terms of managerial level, hours worked, or compensation?

"Redeployment"of your skills and abilities could be a key strategy to finding the right "second wind" opportunity.  


Ever Wonder What Other Boomers Do for Work?

OntheClockWorking past the previously accepted retirement age of 65 is now commonplace. Most Boomers want to, or have to, work into their 70s and perhaps even beyond. So what are all these Boomers doing for work?

It turns out that an increasing percentage of Boomers start their own businesses, or work independently as freelancers in what has become known as the "gig economy." According to recent data cited by Nancy Collamer in her article about the gig economy for Next Avenue, freelancers/consultants/temps and on-call workers (i.e., "independents") make up 31 percent of the private workforce. For those 53 years and older, the percentage is 35 percent. Nancy offers some valuable tips on how Boomers can enter the gig economy.

So what jobs do the rest of us hold? Zippia, a new career site intended for recent college graduates, shares some interesting data in an article entitled "The Jobs You'll Work When You Retire." The five most common jobs for those over 65, according to Zippia, are motor vehicle operators (this includes taxis, trucks, etc.), embalmers/funeral attendants (really!), crossing guards, models/demonstrators/product promoters, and tax preparers.

Another data point is jobs with the most older workers. These jobs include: accountants, lawyers,nurses, physicians, retail salespeople, senior managers, and teachers/professors. It is also a fact that, in general, average workers age 60 to 74 are paid more in hourly wages than average workers age 25 to 59.

Check out the Zippia article for more details to learn what other Boomers do for work: https://www.zippia.com/advice/jobs-youll-work-retire/


Reality Check for Over 50 Job Seekers

OntheClockOne of the truly disheartening things for Boomers is finding yourself out of a job for a long time and looking for another one. The sad truth is that, even with expertise and experience, Boomers are largely discriminated against by American companies. Their short-sighted view is that Boomers cost too much; they can hire younger, less experienced workers at lower wages. Some subtle and some not-so-subtle age discrimination is levied against over 50 job seekers and there is little that can be done about it.

So what productive action can you take if you're over 50, you want a job, and you've been out of work for some time? Career counselor Marc Miller has some good advice.

Marc says anyone over 50 who has been unemployed for over six months should seriously consider becoming self-employed. He points out that we are rapidly moving toward a "contractor based economy." Depending on your skills and interests, you are likely to find some type of work that you can do on a contract basis. Considering contract, temporary, or part-time work makes sense and will be easier to find, in Marc's view.

Another good suggestion of Marc's is to volunteer when you are unemployed for a long time. He says volunteering can be valuable in a number of ways, including:

  • Build your self esteem
  • Build on your brand image
  • Create a portfolio of your life work
  • Improve your marketable skills.

Marc shares several other sound ideas in his article, which you can read here: 
https://careerpivot.com/2013/you-are-over-50-and-long-term-unemployed-what-do-you-do/


The Longer Arc of Working

OntheClock ID-10088137It seems to be an unavoidable topic of aging these days: More people over the age of 65 continue to work. Whether it is full-time or part-time, the arc of working life for many Boomers is lengthening. Statistical research from numerous sources suggests that as much as one-third of the over-65 age group could be working in the next five years.

A recent article by John Hanc in The New York Times reports on some of the reasons older workers continue to work. In it, Hanc discusses Boomers who are 79, 75, 71, and 72, all of whom are still working and enjoying it.

Working longer works for any number of reasons. Jacquelyn B. James, co-director of the Center on Aging and Work at Boston College, tells Hanc, "This is one of the most educated generations in history. A lot of the jobs people are continuing in are fields in which you use the mind, not the body." She adds, "By the time you're in your 60s and 70s, you've probably worked yourself into something you enjoy doing. Others have been able to let go of things that they don't like about their job."

Michael D. Hurd, director of the RAND Corporation Center for the Study of Aging, thinks work is beneficial for older people. He tells Hanc, "You're forced to interact with people and forced to engage your brain. It's also good in terms of people's financial fitness. Just one year's salary keeps you from drawing down on your savings, and may even allow you to add to your savings."

An encouraging factor for older workers is a changing workplace. There are more part-time positions available, and there are more "gigs" -- work engagements that are essentially project-based. These types of work opportunities may involve being an independent contractor. The downside may be lack of benefits, but the upside is often a flexible work schedule and self-employment.

Boomers have been credited with generational change, and they have certainly changed the attitude toward retirement. Employers are slowly catching up to the "Booming" phenomenon of Boomers who want to work past the traditional retirement age of 65. The more Boomers who work into their later years, the more we are likely to reshape the way Americans think about work. Hopefully, this will also lead to a reduction in discrimination against older workers. 

Image: Stuart Miles, freedigitalphotos.net


Help for Older Job Seekers

OntheClockHere are two great resources for any Boomer who is looking for work this year:

  1. MyLifestyleCareer.com

    This website/blog is run by Nancy Collamer, a speaker, coach and author who specializes in answering the question, "What's next?" for Boomers. Available on this site is a wealth of information, including a great compendium of articles entitled "My Top 16 Second-Act Career Posts of 2016."

  2. RetiredBrains.com

    This website directly targets retirees seeking employment. The site includes sections concerning work from home, part-time employment, starting a business, and more. Also available is information about retirement planning, retiring abroad, retirement locations, etc.

Another useful website is http://9livesforwomen.com/ Geared especially to women, this site offers 9 focused blogs, including one entitled "Fending Off Retirement." The website also connects to The Flexwork for Women Alliance. The alliance lists national and regional firms whose mission is to help women find flexible work.

In addition, a very interesting article that recently appeared on CNN Money lists the top 100 jobs in America on the basis of "big growth, great pay and satisfying work." While this article describes these jobs as full-time careers, it would be valuable for retirees to scan the list and determine (1) if you have a skill set that matches any of the jobs and (2) how you could apply your skills to potentially working part-time in any of these careers. Keep in mind that employers who are looking for full-time workers in specific areas may be more than willing to consider part-time workers who have experience and the appropriate skill set.


How to Leave Your Full-time Job and Keep Your Job Part-time

OntheClockAre employers finally waking up to the fact that a Boomer employee's retirement can benefit both the employee and employer? There are signs that some companies have figured out how to make the transition from full-time work to part-time work a win-win for Boomers.

Writing for The New York Times, Christopher Farrell calls the phenomenon "boomerang retirees: people who exit gracefully after their career at a company, then return shortly afterward to work there part time." Farrell cites a number of examples of employers who are welcoming back retired employees on a part-time basis. He points out that only about 8 percent of companies surveyed in 2015 offered part-time work programs for retired former employees, but Farrell writes more companies are discovering the benefits of part-time working retirees.

One such program, sponsored by Atlantic Health Systems of New Jersey, invites retired employees to return to work part-time for a maximum of 1,000 hours per year. Farrell writes, "The company’s Alumni Club — formerly known as the 1,000 Hour Club — was established in 2006, and about 300 Atlantic Health retirees are currently on the company’s payroll in various capacities. 'They’re engaged employees; they’re productive,' said Lesley Meyer, Atlantic Systems’ manager of corporate human resources. 'They’re a stable talent pool.' "

Here's the good news: Human resources professionals think these types of programs are likely to expand. Writes Farrell, "Older workers are the largest collection of talent on payroll, a deep well of skill to tap at a time when management routinely complains about skill shortages. The talents of recent retirees are well known to managers, while former employees are comfortable with an organization’s culture."

Let's hope the trend continues. Read Christopher Farrell's complete article here: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/16/business/retirement/boomerang-boom-more-firms-tapping-the-skills-of-the-recently-retired.html