Mid-Week Bulletin: Retirement Concerns; Napping At Work

Retirement Worries May Create Workforce Gridlock

 A new survey this week showing that older Americans are more pessimistic than ever when it comes to their ability to afford retirement could be a sign that an increasing portion of the workforce will opt to continue working beyond the traditional retirement age. While continued employment will help aging Americans avoid financial hardship, it could make it increasingly difficult for younger workers to climb the employment ladder. In the widely reported survey conducted by the Employee Benefits Research Institute, nearly half of all American workers and retirees were either “not too confident” or “not at all confident” about being able to afford a comfortable retirement. There is good cause for concern for many older workers, according to the survey, which found that 52 percent of those 55 and older have less than $50,000 in retirement savings. Despite the concern and the lack of savings, only 23 percent of survey respondents have sought professional financial advice to help them plan for retirement. These trends create a lot of problems in the workforce, according to employment authority John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc. “These older workers will want to…make that, need to stay in their jobs longer. And employers may oblige, since they value the experience and increased productivity these workers bring to the table. Employers may even be able to negotiate lower salaries for the prospect of increased job security. This is great for the experienced workers trying to delay retirement, but it significantly diminishes advancement opportunities for younger workers. Of course, this could backfire for employers when these older workers finally retire and they are faced with a wide experience gap between those leaving and those who remain.” What are the pros and cons of older workers staying on the job beyond the traditional retirement age? What can companies do to ensure that younger workers have opportunities to advance within their organizations? What other employment/second career opportunities exist for experienced workers who do not want to stay in their current job or want to re-enter the workforce?

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Are Naps the Key to Productivity?

Quirky perks have been a staple at many tech firms like Google, where pool tables and sleep pods are the norm, but employers seem to be warming to the idea of workplace naps. A survey conducted by the Society for Human Resource Management found that 6 percent of workplaces had nap rooms in 2011, up from 5 percent in 2010. A separate study from the National Sleep Foundation reported that 34 percent of respondents had employers who allowed naps, with 16 percent designating napping areas. As workers continue to work around the clock, thanks to technology which allows working from anywhere, a 20-30 minute nap during the workday could lead to increased creativity and problem solving. A 2007 study from NASA found that a 26 minute nap may boost productivity 34 percent. “It’s reasonable for workers who don’t adopt the typical 9-5 workday to catch a few minutes of sleep during the day to recharge,” said John Challenger, CEO of Challenger, Gray & Christmas. “While it may not be the best fit for every workplace, those that expect their workforce to be fully functional at all hours of the day may want to look into the possibility. However, like most workplace perks, employers need to assess their workers and find benefits that play to their strengths and weaknesses.” What perks are employers offering to their workers in light of new technology which allows for a 24/7 workplace? Are employers taking perks off the table? How could these perks be used in recruitment or retention?

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