The Center for Productive Longevity (CPL), which serves as the bridge between people 55 and older and the opportunities that enable them to continue in productive activities, today described â€œThe 3 Important Ways to Defuse the Ticking Time Bomb of our Aging Workforceâ€. With 77 million people in the United States 55 and older, we are at a tipping point: we can either watch them sit on the sidelines, drawing from unsustainable entitlement programs and the general economy, or we can enable this growing population segment to continue working and contribute to the countryâ€™s economic growth and prosperity.
Recent surveys by AARP indicate that 80 percent of the Baby Boomers intend to continue working after leaving their regular career jobs, more than half on less than a full-time basis. Many need or want the additional income, particularly because of their wealth reduction from the recession in 2001 and the global economic crisis that began in the U.S. in late 2007. Other reasons to continue working include the desire to maintain cognitive skills, continue adding value, and remain socially connected.
â€œWe have been aware of this ticking time bomb for years without taking effective action. Now itâ€™s really getting louder with the growing retirement of Baby Boomers at the rate of 4.2 million each year from 2011 through 2029, compounded by high unemployment and low economic growth for the foreseeable future,â€ says William Zinke, 85, founder and president of CPL. â€œWe can defuse this time bomb by creating a wave of entrepreneurship across the country and stimulating employers to take a more flexible approach in providing employment opportunities for older workers.â€
According to CPL, we can defuse the ticking time bomb of our aging workforce in three important ways:
1. Baby Boomer Entrepreneurship
Create awareness and understanding among the Baby Boomers about the benefits and opportunities of creating their own businesses. Entrepreneurship remains a critical factor in the countryâ€™s economic growth and vitality, with a spirit of pioneering and self-reliance still a part of Americaâ€™s DNA.
2. Flexible Workplace Options
Stimulate employers to develop phased retirement programs and other flexible workplace options that will retain and attract Baby Boomers 55 and older who want to continue working but on a part-time basis. A movement is developing in this direction, but a recent survey by Harris Interactive indicates that only 24 percent of Fortune 1000 companies provide such options.
3. Greater Talent Pool Utilization
The reality is that America has a large and growing talent pool of workers 55 and older with experience, expertise, seasoned judgment and proven performance (EESP). Research shows that older workers have a higher level of commitment, reliability and motivation; have better overall skills and abilities than younger workers; and have much lower absenteeism and turnover. This talent pool must be tapped to a substantially greater degree.
â€œEconomic growth and our standard of living may be reduced if older workers are not provided with opportunities to continue working, yet there is no real recognition of the need to do so,â€ adds Zinke. â€œIt is CPLâ€™s purpose to change the national mindset about aging and retirement.â€
One way CPL is highlighting the benefits of senior entrepreneurship is by organizing a series of four meetings titled â€œSpotlight on Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Baby Boomersâ€. The first meeting was held at the Kauffman Foundation in Kansas City, MO, the focal point for entrepreneurship in America, on March 27 with almost 100 participants and excellent feedback. The next three meetings will be held at Babson College in Wellesley, MA on September 14, Northwestern University/Kellogg School of Business in Chicago on October 11, and the University of Denver on November 15. To register, visit http://www.ctrpl.org/entrepreneurship-meeting/overview.