With little saved, employers and aging employees share same fear: Can retirement happen?
Less than two-thirds of workers are confident that they will retire at age 65, and nearly a third of those surveyed plan to continue working in retirement, according to a Transamerica Center for Retirement survey.
Sixty-two percent of baby boomers, the group closest to retirement, believe they can comfortably retire. Confidence is lowest among Generation X, who have been hit during the Great Recession and are starting to turn 50, which leaves them a limited amount of time to save.
“Millennials are the most confident as they have the most time to save,” says Catherine Collinson, CEO and president of Transamerica Institute and its center for retirement studies.
Despite this sense of assurance, only 67% of millennial workers are confident that they will be able to fully retire with a comfortable lifestyle. Millennials entered the workforce with significantly greater levels of student debt compared to older generations and they are witnessing the challenges that their baby boomer parents facing with regard to their retirement, according to Collinson. “This affects them,” she says.
The shift to include older employees will require employers to make changes in workplace, including greater flexibility in transitioning from full-time to part-time work and more inclusive policies to foster cooperation among various generations.
The Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees, which reports to the Department of the Treasury, predicts that the Social Security Trust Funds will be depleted by 2034 due to an aging population, increases in life expectancies and lower birthrates. These factors indicate that people will need to work longer and/or plan and save for longer retirements, Collinson says.
This is why, according to Collinson, more people plan to work through the retirement age.
Twenty-five percent of baby boomers plan to work in retirement, according to the Transamerica Center study. This number increases in younger generations, with 27% of Generation Xers and 36% of millennials thinking they will be working past 65, either in an existing or new role or work or by starting their own business.
“Many more older people are planning to work past age 65 or even 70, but labor force projections raise concerns whether there will be enough jobs available to them,” Collinson says.
Another concern in retirement is rising healthcare costs. “We do not know exactly how much we need to save for out-of-pocket healthcare costs in older age,” she says. “Some estimate a couple will need to save almost $300,000.”
Of those that actually want to retire, twice as many would like a transition from work life to retirement and appreciate employers who are supportive of this transition. Offering such a transition opportunity, and an “aging-friendly” environment, will be a win-win situation for everyone, Collinson says.
“With the opportunity to gradually transition into retirement, employees can help train their successors. The ability to switch from full-time to part-time or work in a different capacity can be beneficial in other situations, such as in the case of younger employees wanting to start a family,” says Collinson. “We see it especially in the case of working mothers. It can be a win-win situation for women who want to continue working and for employers who want to retain valuable employees.”
Another area that this flexibility on the part of employer can come very handy is in caregiving.
“It will be an issue for millennials,” says Collinson. She says that as baby boomers have not saved much for their retirement, many of those who wind up needing long-term care will not have the financial resources to pay for it.
“In that situation, they will likely call on their adult children to be caregivers,” she says. This will lead to millennials to want flexible work arrangements and the ability to switch from full to part-time employment so they can care for their aging parents, she adds.
Employers can help their employees and gain a unique advantage in innovation and problem solving skills by truly embracing diversity, which includes an age-friendly approach.
“It is my personal experience that multi-generational teams can deliver awe-inspiring results. Younger employees including interns or recent college graduates bring new skills and technological knowledge,” she says, adding, “Older employees bring the expertise that comes with experience, problem-solving skills, and a greater sense of perspective. Together, this combination can accomplish things that are far greater than either can do on their own.”