According to Statistics Canada by 2021 almost one in four Canadian workers will be aged 55 or over. Add another decade and the ratio of employed individuals to retirees is less than three to one.
An ageing population and a tightening economy means that many older workers are choosing to remain in the workforce or reduce their workload rather than retire outright. Preparing for potential skills gaps or launching initiatives to retain older workers seems like an obvious solution, but a recent US survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found only 29% of organizations have analyzed the impact of employees aged 50 and over leaving the workplace while 46% sited it as a potential problem.
While mandatory retirement in Canada was given the pink slip back in 2009, aged based distinctions are still allowable under legislation for group or employee insurance plans. At 65 for example, employees are no longer eligible for accidental death and dismemberment or long term disability insurance. Their eligibility for general health, dental and other benefits may also be restricted depending on the plan.
So, what can you do to retain older workers? Glenn Kehrer, President of Group Benefits Consulting Canada says it largely depends on the employee.
“The most important thing is to have a conversation with the employee about what their expectations are, and how they see their retirement unfolding,” he says, “you can also set up a good retirement plan as part of your benefits program so, as members get older, they feel more assured of how their retirement will unfold.”
Benefits for older worker retention:
- Extend the age limit on your benefits contract
- Grant part-time employees access to benefits to give aging workers more flexibility
- Offer flexible arrangements such as job sharing
- Offer retirement planning and phased-in retirement work options
- Consider targeted recruitment of older workers
- Offer health plans that extend into retirement