Freedom 55 from a different perspective
As the population ages, more and more employees are continuing to work well past the typical retirement age. There are many reasons for the delay in retirement, including the fact that people are living longer, are generally healthier, have greater financial needs and enjoy the social aspects of being part of the workforce.
An article published in The Toronto Star on June 17, 2013, offers a fresh look at the issue of retirement age spotlighting a very successful manufacturing company just outside of Boston, Vita Needle, which has 49 employees, half of whom are 75 or older and the average age of all employees is 65. Vita Needle began to hire local retirees in the mid-1980s as the company could not find workers willing to commute to Needham, a town located approximately 30 kilometres west of Boston. The success of Vita Needle in employing a large workforce of part-time retirees shows these employees offer many advantages, such as strong work ethic, reliability, need of minimal supervision, attention to detail and understanding of a teamwork approach. As part-time workers, retirees are also less expensive to employ because their medical and dental bills are covered through government programs.
Not only does Vita Needle benefit from the efforts of the older workforce, but these individuals also benefit greatly, not only financially, but personally. Some retirees choose to continue working for financial reasons. Others find that continuing employment past retirement gives a sense of purpose and helps to stay intellectually and socially engaged and therefore happy. Paid work also helps them to feel that they are making a valuable contribution.
Lessons for Employers
Statistics show that Vita Needle is not a “one off” in the list of companies recognizing the mutual benefits derived from this approach to human resources since the fastest growing cohort in the workforce is the 60-plus group. Depending on the industry and nature of work, employers should strongly consider not only hiring older workers, but also making the working environment more attractive to older workers who may be contemplating retirement. As outlined above, there are many benefits to employing older workers who bring with them a wealth of experience as well as other qualities that are highly sought after by employers. As with all other employees, it is important for employers to implement properly drafted employment agreements and workplace policies, and should consult with experienced Employment Law counsel for further advice.
Lessons for Employees
Depending on personal and financial circumstances, employees should not feel pressured to retire once they reach a certain age or feel hesitant to apply for new work. Retirement at age 65 is no longer mandatory and human rights legislation protects employees from discrimination in the workplace on the basis of age. As outlined above, there are many advantages to employees, both financial and social, in continuing to work well into one’s 60s and beyond!
Minken Employment Lawyers is your Canadian source for expert Employment Law advice and advocacy on today’s employment law issues. Whether you are an employer or employee, we can help. Contact us to see how.
For more information on Vita Needle, see The Toronto Star Article, “Older workers: At this company, average employee is 65″, by Adam Mayers, June 17, 2013.