Older workers are an increasingly important component of the workforce. Beyond the knowledge and experience they bring to your organization, they typically are very reliable workers and play a valuable role in mentoring those with less experience.
As with any group in the workforce, there are specific things you should consider when you design employee benefit offerings for older workers to ensure that you are addressing their needs.
- Insurance Benefits. Insurance, especially health insurance, is typically very important to older workers. Your insurance consultant should advise you on how to provide comprehensive and competitive coverage. Consider whether dropping the eligibility requirement to 25 or 20 hours a week might support any graduated retirement programs you may have. And take a second look at your group life insurance benefits. What levels are you offering, what are you offering for spousal coverage and at what age does your benefit begin to decline? Many workers have only the life insurance their employer provides to cover themselves and their spouse and may find purchasing individual policies difficult due to pre-existing conditions.
- Immediate vesting in retirement plan contributions. This is a wonderful selling point whether you are recruiting an older worker currently employed or are attempting to draw one out of retirement. Immediate vesting in company retirement plan contributions may make it worthwhile for someone to join you and not leave money on the table if they retire within five years.
- Development of phased retirement plans that are unique to the individual and fluid to address personal changes. While you can establish a framework for phased retirement that might generally include hours reductions over a timeframe of months or years, it is critically important to ensure that it is flexible enough to meet the varying needs of older workers. A 60-year-old who wants to spend more time with a retired spouse traveling a few times a year will have different needs than a 60-year-old single person who wants to try and establish hobbies and volunteer work, so they have something to do to replace work after full retirement. And a person in the midst of phased retirement who loses a spouse might desire to “un-retire” or back up a few phases. A one-size-fits-all approach will not be successful. Try to tailor your approach to each individual as much as possible.
- Seasonal Remote Work: Jobs that lend themselves to remote work might be able to be structured in such a way that older workers who want to spend winters in warm climates could work from their second homes seasonally.
Perhaps the most important thing is to listen to older workers and look for ways to address concerns or needs they have. Good advice for any group of workers!