Seven Reasons Why Baby Boomers Continue Working

The anomaly is that people in America are living 30 years longer than people in the 20th century but only working two years longer.  In 2000, the average retirement age was 62, and the average retirement age in 2010 was 64.  Many of the recent retirements were involuntary: the massive lay-offs between 2008-2012 because of the Great Recession, corporate mergers and consolidations, work being outsourced to other countries, increased automation, and other factors.  Many were also voluntary as employees accepted attractive severance packages or just wanted to get off the corporate treadmill.


Here are the seven principal reasons why many people 55 and older (55+) want to continue working after retirement

  • The need for additional income to maintain a standard of living or the desire to have additional income for discretionary spending
  • Recognition that, with knowledge of their increased longevity and vulnerability of their financial resources through market fluctuations, it may be necessary or desirable to generate additional income through a career after retirement
  • The desire for continued interesting/stimulating/challenging work to maintain cognitive skills and abilities
  • The desire to maintain self-esteem and self-fulfillment by continuing in productive activities that add value
  • The desire to maintain relationships with the outside world and to remain socially connected
  • The attraction of continued part-time work, without the responsibility and stress of a full-time job, to enhance the satisfaction with life and overall feeling of well being
  • The opportunity for flexible workplace options that offer greater choices than full-time work plus an attractive benefits package that desirably includes healthcare coverage


My consulting firm, Human Resource Services, Inc. (HRS) organized a “Survey on the Strategic Involvement of HR in Fortune 1000 Companies” that was completed in November 2011 and conducted by Harris Interactive, with 25 major companies as sponsors.  Only 24% of the HR heads stated that their companies provided flexible workplace options.  The options include:

  • Reduced working hours
  • Reduced working days
  • Flexible working times that may be variable
  • Seasonal work
  • Job sharing
  • Telecommuting (i.e., working from home with telecommunications connections)
  • Different work assignments (e.g., mentoring or training younger workers, a new functional or business area)
  • Project assignments


As the economy improves and companies face the reality of an aging and shrinking workforce, many more will be required to develop flexible workplace options.  In a recent AARP survey, 80% of Baby Boomers indicated their intent to continue working, more than half on a part-time basis. Companies will be required to tap this large and growing talent pool of workers 55+ because of their experience, expertise, seasoned judgment and proven performance (we call that EESP).  And recent surveys conducted among Generation Y and Millennials indicate that many of them want more flexibility to spend time with their families and engage in other activities.


Companies would also be well advised to maintain databases of retired workers who may want to continue working on a part-time basis because it is substantially more efficient and cost effective to hire former employees who know the company and can continue to add value.   The alternative is to pay a fee to a staffing company for part-time help who don’t know the company, the people and the way it functions. 


HRS has created a nonprofit, the Center for Productive Longevity, with this mission:

To stimulate the substantially increased engagement of people 55 and older in productive activities, paid and volunteer, where they are qualified and ready to continue adding value.


In furtherance of this mission, CPL will be working closely with the HR heads of major companies around the country to increase their focus on flexible workplace options, as well as reaching out to mid-size and smaller companies. For more information, please visit

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