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Many Workers Want a Phased Retirement but Don't Get It

Few employers allow a gradual withdrawal from the workplace

man looking at a piece of paper in front of a computer


Seventy-four percent of employers say they know that many employees plan to keep working past the traditional retirement age, but few of them provide programs that enable workers to make a gradual transition from the workforce.

That’s the finding of an annual survey released by the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, which polled 1,825 employers and 6,372 workers.

The survey found that 47 percent of workers want to make a gradual shift as they get older, either by reducing work hours, serving in a less demanding capacity or taking a more personally satisfying role. Yet just 20 percent of companies offer a structured plan for workers to transition gradually once they reach retirement age. 

The survey also found that few companies have policies in place that would help workers make the shift. Only 32 percent accommodate flexible working hours and arrangements, and just 31 percent enable employees to reduce hours from full time to part time.

Just 21 percent allow older workers to switch to jobs that are less stressful or demanding. Even at a time when companies worry about a wave of boomer retirements, only 22 percent encourage employees to participate in succession planning, training and mentoring of younger workers. 

The survey also found that among companies that offer a 401(k) or similar savings plan to their employees, only 41 percent extend the eligibility to part-time workers. That could make it more difficult for older transitioning workers to keep saving for the day they do retire.