Pitt-Catsouphes: Flexibility Could Boost Efficiency in Aging Workforce

marcie-pitt-catsouphes-513x336BC Social Work Professor Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes has written extensively on America’s aging workforce, and this week, she penned her latest article on the subject for online forum The Conversation. The focus of her piece surrounds two important trends in the U.S. that she says could “transform the structure of work in the near future.”

Number one: A majority of today’s employees expect to work beyond the traditional retirement age of 65, with some projecting that they might never retire. By 2022, one-quarter of the American workforce will be older than 55.

And secondly: Most 50+ workers prefer to have access to some type of alternative schedule, reduced hours arrangement, or project-based work.

So what does this mean? In short, since it’s in employers’ best interest to ensure that this growing workforce is happy and therefore productive, it will be important for them to consider flexible options for their employees moving forward.

Progress is already being made to this effect, but there is much work to be done to plan for this imminent future, says Pitt-Catsouphes. She writes:

…public leaders, such as Ros Altmann, who is the business champion for older workers in the UK, have started to identify innovations like flexible work options that will expand opportunities for older workers to remain in the workforce longer.

To be sure, there has been some progress since the 1980s. A 2014 survey of U.S. firms with 50 or more employees conducted by the Families and Work Institute in New York found that four of every five employers report that they allow at least some groups of employees to periodically change their starting and quitting times. But less than one-third give this option to most or all of their employees.

Unfortunately, fewer than one in every nine U.S. employers reports that he or she has options that support gradual transitions into complete retirement characterized by labor force withdrawal.

Older workers’ interest in workplace flexibility seems like a small ask, but it could make a big difference.

We encourage you to read the entire article at The Conversation.

“Perspectives” highlights some of the important issues being explored by the Boston College community and beyond that reflect the School of Social Work’s commitment to social justice.




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