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Flex Strategies to Attract, Engage & Retain Older Workers—Executive Case Report

workplace flexibility case studies find benefit for older workers and their employers


March 2012—A new research paper by the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College finds that workplace flexibility initiatives, when properly matched to employee needs can provide strategic benefits to older workers and their employers.“Flex Strategies to Attract, Engage & Retain Older Workers” is a series of corporate case studies across a variety of industry sectors that demonstrate the value of workplace flexibility’s ability to recruit, retain, and engage older workers.

The three employers involved in the project are Central Baptist Hospital, Marriott International and MITRE Corporation. The most common strategies used by all organizations surveyed were: offering part-time positions (42%), hiring retirees as consultants or temporary workers (40%), and offering flexible work arrangements for older workers (36%).

“Now is a critical time for us to understand the issues affecting older workers and their employers,” said Samantha Greenfield, Employer Engagement Specialist at The Sloan Center on Aging & Work. “The leading edge of the baby boom generation has already reached traditional retirement age. At the same time, our country’s economic challenges have forced many of these older workers to extend their work-retirement horizon.”

The paper describes the workplace flexibility strategies and a promising practice of each organization and revealed the following:

  • Workplace flexibility strategies tend to be more informal than formal. Among these strategies are practices that specifically meet the needs of older workers.
  • Many issues help form the business case for flexibility, including the ability to recruit, retain and engage older workers.
  • In developing flexibility practices, companies must take into account the ways in which perceptions of age are influenced. A concept has been called the “Prism of Age” by the Sloan Center.
  • The best, and most promising, flexibility practices are those that address managers’ concerns about such things as trust, losing control and coaching older workers.

“Flex Strategies to Attract, Engage and Retain the Older Worker” grew out of a project launched by the Sloan Center in 2011 to study promising practices that address the needs of older workers and business.

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