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Half of all baby boomers intend to keep working past age 65

Posting in Technology
Baby boomers have never been known to take things lying down. Even when it comes to retirement, many have no intentions of going out to pasture.

That's one of the findings of a new report, issued by Deloitte, which urges employers to get ready for a whole new way of looking at retirement. While it can be argued that many seasoned workers will keep working beyond the typical retirement age of 65 out of economic necessity, it's also notable that many want to remain active in the economy—and the lines between worklife and retirement are blurring. 

The study, written by Karen Bowman, Tim Geddes, Jason Flynn, Jeff Sumberg, all with Deloitte, reports that 48% percent of baby boomers (currently between the ages of 49 and 66) expect to keep working past age 65, and 13% believe they will work into their 70s.

This is both good and bad news, the authors suggest. The good news is that a continued availability of skilled workers will help narrow the growing talent gap and stem a potential brain drain. The bad news is that having increased numbers of seasoned workers may mean greater payroll and benefits costs.

Wealth and health are two of the four key reasons why baby boomers will be sticking around for a while:

Lower-than-expected wealth. "Many workers on the verge of retirement are not yet wealthy enough to fulfill their retirement dreams," Bowman and her co-authors reason.

Better-than-expected health. Thanks to advances in healthcare, many older workers still have a lot of value to contribute—and the vigor to do it."

Shifts in government policy.
"Changes in healthcare policy will presumably make it easier for mature workers to leave or to accept part-time or contractor positions that don’t include full benefits. On the other hand, proposed increases in the qualifying age for public pension schemes around the world could lead workers to stick around longer."

Continued demand for key skills.
"Organizations are struggling to find and retain the critical skills required to achieve their strategic objectives," the Deloitte team writes. "In many cases, the jobs that are hardest to fill have the biggest impact on performance and require the most experience. This talent gap creates new opportunities for workers near retirement age to extend their careers."

Not mentioned in the report is another key driver that is creating opportunities: the rise of the freelance and information economies. The online economy enables individuals to either work virtually or launch new business ventures, with employers, clients and customers oblivious to the age factor. Any age discrimination that may have existed within organizations gets effectively washed out in digital work environments. Plus, for previous generations, retirement meant release from manual, back-breaking work—today's information workers can keep right on going.

Bowman and her co-authors recommend that employers take a hard look at their retirement benefits plans, and redesign them to allow for "multi-dimensional" retirement offerings--which includes the possibility that employees will prefer to stay with the organization on a part-time basis. One approach would be to include a "mentoring" stipulation with such part-time work. For example, the U.S. federal government now allows for continuing part-time employment of seasoned workers, with the condition that one-fifth of their time be spent mentoring younger employees. 

Again, the Deloitte report emphasizes support for non-retiring seasoned employees under the more rigid standard employment structure. Another approach that is emerging with the information economy is the rise of contracting and freelance work—another avenue of opportunity for professionals of all ages—not to mention employers of all ages.

(Thumbnail photo: ZDNet.)

— By on November 29, 2013, 2:22 PM PST

Joe McKendrick

Contributing Editor

Joe McKendrick is an independent analyst who tracks the impact of information technology on management and markets. He is a co-author of the SOA Manifesto and has written for Forbes, ZDNet and Database Trends & Applications. He holds a degree from Temple University. He is based in Pennsylvania. Follow him on Twitter. Disclosure