The Return of Older Workers

While the Great Resignation was originally blamed by many on lazy younger workers happy to sit back and collect COVID relief checks, further data showed that much of the labor shortage was due to older workers retiring early in large numbers. Many found that their skyrocketing home values and soaring stock prices in their 401(k)s gave them the financial security they needed to avoid the COVID and post-COVID workplace shakeups.

However, as stocks have struggled in recent months and inflation has hit historic levels, many early retirees are finding their financial situation less favorable than expected and have started to consider returning to the workplace.

Retirees Returning to the Workforce

“With the bear market hitting retirement portfolios hard, bonds performing as poorly as stocks, and inflation raging, what seemed like a sure retirement income may be more of a pipe dream for many older Americans who had left the workforce, or planned to soon retire,” writes Cheryl Winokur Munk in an article for CNBC. “The economic situation is sending more retirement-age workers back into the labor force. A recent CNBC survey found a majority of retirees would consider returning to work. But finding the right job isn’t always easy.”

The timing couldn’t be better for many employers who have been struggling to find and retain workers, but many organizations aren’t currently offering the flexibility and welcoming environment that older workers are looking for.

Flexible Option a Must to Lure Retirees Back to the Office

“Many companies don’t offer the flexibility that many older workers want later in life,” explains Winokur Munk. “Age discrimination is another factor, with 78% of older workers claiming to have seen or experienced workplace age discrimination, according to 2021 data from AARP. That’s the highest level since 2003, when AARP began tracking the data.”

There is an emerging and growing opportunity for companies to mitigate their staffing woes by attracting older workers back to the workforce, but to be successful they need to understand what these potential employees want and need to come back and be willing to accommodate those asks.

Lin Grensing-Pophal is a Contributing Editor at HR Daily Advisor.