Is your company ready for your retirement? Are you? The answers may surprise you, based on results of the recent Merrill Lynch New Retirement Study, which surveyed individuals and employers. The primary findings? Employers aren't ready for the type of retirement employees are anticipating and employees want flexibility in the future.
The survey of 5,111 adults ages 25 to 70 and more than 1,000 U. S. companies with 100 employees or more was conducted for Merrill Lynch by Harris Interactive in Rochester, N.Y. The study builds on last year's survey, which discovered that 76 percent of all baby boomers had no intention of seeking a "traditional" retirement. The scope of people surveyed in this year's report expanded to include more individuals, as well as U.S. companies.
Many baby boomers, the report shows, want to cycle in and out of the workforce. When asked about their ideal arrangement during retirement, this choice was most popular.
Additionally, more than half of the adults surveyed would like to change their line of work and, to that end, have already started doing the research or have taken it one step further by enrolling in classes or training sessions.
Some key findings:
71 percent of those surveyed plan to work post-retirement in some capacity. Almost half who do plan to work do not plan to ever stop completely. The remainder plan to work in their post-retirement job for about nine years and stop after 70.
Many individuals cited health and financial concerns as reasons to keep working; according to the survey, the most frequently cited reason was to stay mentally and physically active. Many also were concerned about health insurance and finances and expressed concerns about debt.
While companies can see changes coming, they are not likely to have a prediction in alignment with their employees'. The survey showed companies are more likely to assume that employees want to work a regular part-time schedule than to cycle between work and leisure.
And while they may be able to see change coming, many aren't doing much about it. Only 25 percent said they were ready for the mass exodus of employees and 31 percent say there has not been much thought about it.
So who wins? Employers who not only can see the future, but are doing something about it. Those leading the pack understand how important it is to attract and retain older workers. "The pioneers on the employment front are those companies that have already realized that the 'new retirement' is here," says Cynthia Hayes, head of Employer Plan Solutions at Merrill Lynch. "By permitting telecommuting and more flexible schedules, providing coaching and mentoring services, as well as offering increased access to health insurance, these companies have demonstrated that they are already thinking about the new approaches they can take to leverage a very valuable work force segment that still has the desire to work." —J.D.