The Return of Retirees to the Workforce

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Aug 30, 2022

Labor market challenges are continuing to get worse. From an inflated economy and a possible recession to increasing employee demands and fewer applications for open roles, companies can’t catch a break. As business leaders battle for talent, they need to start thinking outside the box to expand their workforces. This includes reducing the barriers to entry for those who haven’t typically been considered for hourly roles — like people over the age of 55.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 29% of people in part-time jobs are 55 years or older, with roughly 1 in 5 adults aged 65 and older remaining at work. People in this age group — especially retirees — are increasingly looking for short-term job opportunities that keep them engaged and earning money. Despite being a population that hasn’t traditionally been considered for these types of roles, times are changing. If businesses want to fill the significant gaps in their workforces, they need to tap into this often overlooked pool of talent.

Retirees Can Fill Critical Part-Time Roles

Industries like retail, travel, and hospitality, which rely heavily on part-time, hourly employees, can greatly benefit from adding retirees to their workforces. This is especially true as businesses prepare for the holiday season. Hiring retirees for roles like cashiers, receptionists, or even airline gate agents, will help alleviate the headache of operating understaffed and allow businesses to meet consumer demands better.  

However, it isn’t just these industries that can benefit from hiring older people. Other organizations, like government and educational institutions, are also leveraging retirees for open roles. With the widespread teacher shortage, schools are increasingly welcoming retired teachers to keep their classrooms going. In fact, some states have established laws that allow retired teachers to return to the classroom and still keep their retirement benefits.

Leading With a Flexibility-First Approach

Regardless of industry, the key to attracting retirees is providing flexible working opportunities that enable them to bridge the gap between full-time work and retirement. According to a recent report by Legion, schedule flexibility is important to 85% of all hourly workers. So as organizations continue to prioritize filling open positions, they will be able to better attract and retain their hourly workforce by offering this type of flexibility. Doing so often includes tactics like:

Schedule autonomy. Rather than sending out a set schedule and expecting everyone to stick to it, give part-time people flexibility and control over their schedules. Enable them to indicate their schedule preferences and match those with business needs. Tools that automate and optimize that process make it possible to optimize labor costs and improve the employee experience. 

Communication tools, It might seem obvious, but being flexible involves ensuring everyone can communicate should a last-minute change arise. Provide self-service communication tools for your team so people can check their schedules and swap shifts as needed.

Instant-wage access. Considering the current climate, a traditional payment model doesn’t always work for everyone. Give employees access to their wages the second they earn them, so their money is available whenever they need it.

While the pandemic drove millions of older adults into retirement, inflation and economic uncertainty are driving many to re-enter the workforce. Expanding the search to include these older workers is one way businesses can solve their critical and recurring staffing challenges. 

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