Promoting Workplace Longevity and Desirable Retirement Pathways Within Academic Institutions

March 2012
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America’s workforce has been changed by our aging population. The challenges and opportunities presented by an aging workforce are especially salient within academic institutions where faculty over 55 years old already comprise more than 33% of the workforce, compared to an average of 20% in other professions (BLS, 2011). This paper presents data from a point-in-time survey of 187 human resource specialists (HRS) from a representative sample of universities and colleges across the United States. Results show that many institutions have made few efforts to promote workplace longevity and structure desirable retirement pathways. The majority of institutions do not offer wellness programs tailored for aging employees, only 1/3 of the sampled institutions offer any counseling services about the non-financial aspects of retirement, less than half offer workplace accommodations most useful to aging employees, and retirement pathways are varied in structure and not offered consistently to both faculty and staff. Developing a strategic response to the continued aging of the academic workforce must become a higher priority among leaders of higher education. Indeed, developing a strategic plan that facilitates the creation of programs and policies that promote workplace longevity and viable retirement pathways for faculty and staff alike will go a long way in helping academic institutions effectively respond to the continued aging of the workforce.