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The 7 best benefits to keep older workers in the fold

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Employment Law,Human Resources

Employees age 55 and older—a group growing four times faster than the work force as a whole—make particularly loyal employees, a new study shows.

But does your organization offer the type of benefits that will help you retain those older workers until they retire (and beyond)? Some organizations are taking that extra step.

For example, retirees from The MITRE Corp. can return to work on an as-needed basis when their former colleagues take vacations or when the firm has temporary jobs requiring their experience. And Oregon Health and Science University’s oldest employees pair with its youngest at diversity seminars whose single focus is understanding people from other generations.

If your organization wants to make an extra effort to retain older employees, focus on these six benefits:

  1. Elder care. An obvious perk to add as employees age is elder care assistance, which can range from sharing information about community services to subsidizing the fee of a geriatric care manager. Also, consider benefits that acknowledge the physical challenges of aging, such as on-site health screenings or age-related wellness seminars.
  2. Flexibility. Most employees appreciate a policy that allows them to flex work times and days. Older workers want more than that. Some firms allow employees nearing retirement to take summers off so they can travel or spend time with their grandchildren. The Home Depot, for example, allows employees to transfer among stores without reapplying for their jobs, which enables “snowbirds” to work winters in the sunny South and migrate north for the summer. Part-time jobs and job-sharing arrangements—with benefits—also are popular with employees who are near or beyond retirement age.
  3. Phased retirement. One inducement that might keep valued-older workers around longer: Allow them to shift out of the work force slowly by progressively cutting their hours for a few years before retirement.
  4. Training. Don’t assume older employees don’t want to learn new skills and take on new challenges. In fact, many mature workers, financially comfortable after years as high-wage earners, are ready to switch to jobs that stoke their passions even if they pay less.
  5. Volunteer opportunities. Some employers give workers time off during the workday to volunteer for charities.
    Many older workers are interested in doing work they feel is meaningful; arranging volunteer opportunities for them helps satisfy that goal.
  6. Respect. Your oldest, most experienced employees don’t want to work for an organization that doesn’t value age and wisdom. More firms are stamping out age discrimination by adding the topic to their diversity training and by encouraging older workers to serve as mentors to their younger colleagues. 
  7. Technology adaptations. Tailor technology training to the over-50 audience. These employees learn as well as their young colleagues, but it might take longer because they haven’t grown up with computers.  

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