Vital Aging Network

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Work Options

The American labor pool is aging. Over the next 20 years the number of workers over 45 is expected to grow by 86%. During the same time period, the number of workers age 45 and under is expected to remain stable. Recent trends show an increase in employment following retirement, particularly part-time employment and entrepreneurship.

Productive Lives: Paid and Unpaid Activities of Older Americans, a report by the International Longevity Center, provides information about to the aging workforce.

Employers have slow to change their policies to encourage retention of older workers. Even though older workers have skills, habits, and attitudes that match employers’ stated priorities, supervisors' and employers' practices often discourage older workers from seeking employment or continuing on the job. Layoffs still affect older workers most severely.

Research, such as AARP's American Business and Older Employees Survey, from January 2000, shows four practices by employers would make a positive difference in recruiting, renewing, and retaining older workers:

  • Providing benefit packages that encourage retention
  • Offering part-time and flexible options for employment
  • Training younger supervisors in managing older workers
  • Updating older workers’ skills, particularly technological skills
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