EBRI 2008 Recent Retirees Survey: Report of Findings

July 2008
EBRI Issue Brief #319
Paperback, 24 pp.
PDF, 703 kb
Employee Benefit Research Institute, 2008

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Executive Summary

Understanding how to achieve longer work lives: The 2008 Recent Retirees Survey was undertaken to better understand the tools and practices that might encourage workers to postpone their retirement and remain longer with their company.

Why do people retire when they do? Respondents typically retired from employers for one of four reasons: retirement becomes affordable, lack of job satisfaction, a desire for more personal or family time, and/or their own health status.

Narrow window for asking people to work longer: One of the major findings from the survey is that employers have a narrow window of up to two years in which they may be able to intervene to change retiring workers’ decisions by offering them incentives to remain with the company.

Employers may just need to ask: Many retirees report they would have been open to an approach from their employer asking them to stay longer with the company. Sixty-one percent say they would have viewed the experience positively. Just 10 percent indicate they would have reacted negatively to an approach asking them to delay their retirement.

Work incentives vary in appeal: The survey tested a total of 19 possible incentives that might encourage retiring workers to postpone retirement. Four of these appear especially likely to be successful:

     --> Half of retirees (48 percent) indicate that feeling truly needed for an assignment would have been extremely or very effective in encouraging them to delay their retirement. Moreover, of those ranking this as one of the top two most effective incentives, 72 percent say it might have prompted them to stay at least two more years with the company.

     --> Half of retirees with a defined benefit pension state receiving a full pension while working part time would have been effective in delaying their retirement (50 percent), and almost as many feel this way about receiving a partial pension while working part time (44 percent). Seven in 10 of those rating each among the top two most effective incentives report they would likely have stayed at least two more years if it had been offered to them (72 percent for full pension, 71 percent for partial pension). However, this would necessitate a change in federal law and several other compensation-related incentives may be almost as compelling.

     --> Thirty-eight percent report that being able to work seasonally or on a contract basis would have been effective in encouraging them to delay retirement. Among those rating this as one of the top two incentives, more than three-quarters (77 percent) say it might have prompted them to stay two years or more with the company.