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Retiring baby boomers expected to hurt companies

More than 25 percent of U.S. businesses have done little to plan for the effects of an aging workforce, according to a new national study.

Over the next decade, there will be a significant change in the demographics of America's workforce as baby boomers continue to retire, leaving younger workers with less experience to fill their place -- and leaving many businesses unprepared.

In a survey of 578 organizations of varying industries in the United States, only 33 percent of employers said that their business had analyzed workplace demographics and made projections about the retirement rates of their workers, according to the Boston College Center on Aging and Work.

Reports indicate that U.S. businesses face a shortage of millions of workers in the next 10 years due to the baby-boomer generation approaching retirement.

"Companies that do not plan for this aging workforce may find themselves suddenly faced with a loss of labor, experience and expertise that will be difficult to offset, given the relatively small pool of new workers and the competition for new talent likely to result from so many companies facing the same problem," Mick Smyer, co-director of the Center on Aging and Works, said in statement.

Only 37 percent of employers said they have adopted strategies to encourage older workers to stay past the traditional retirement age despite more than 50 percent of employers who said they value the "loyalty, reliability, and strong work ethic" of their late-career workers, researchers found.

Many respondents acknowledged that they will face challenges when it comes to replacing retired employees. Almost 60 percent of employers reported that recruiting competent job applicants is their biggest human resources challenge. Respondents also indicated a concern for competent employees leaving and causing a skills gap at the company. Forty percent said that management skills would be the asset in shortest supply at their organisation.

Researchers found that employers would be effective at retaining retirement-age workers if they offered more flexible work options. When asked to what extent their organization had implemented flexible work options, 7.6 percent responded that they had "not at all," while another 33.8 percent had only done so to a "limited extent."

"Most older workers who say that they want to extend the number of years they remain in the labor force also say that the typical 8-hour day/5-day week doesn't work for them," said Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, co-director of the Center on Aging and Work. "Employers who fail to consider flexible work options may be missing important opportunities to enhance both their business performance and their employees' engagement."

Reuters -

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