There’s a wide gulf between what employers think they are doing to help workers retire comfortably and what workers are actually experiencing, a new survey shows.

Seventy-five percent of employers consider their workplaces to be “aging friendly,” but just 54% of workers say their employers are aging friendly, according to the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, which surveyed 1,825 employers and 4,649 workers for its long-running retirement survey. And just 18% of employers offer a phased retirement program.

Among employers, 46% strongly agreed that their workplace supports employees working beyond age 65, but just 31% of workers felt the same.

Employers could be doing more to help workers achieve financial security in retirement, said Catherine Collinson, chief executive of the Transamerica Institute.

“Whether it be providing a retirement plan, extending benefits to part-time workers, becoming aging friendly, or implementing phased retirement, employers can update their business practices and enhance their benefits offerings, thereby improving retirement security among American workers,” she said.

Currently, many employers offer phased retirement programs — which allow employees to work part-time schedules while beginning to draw retirement benefits — only on a case-by-case basis.

It’s all about extending the number of years people spend in the workforce, which helps employers avoid worker shortages as baby boomers age and helps workers finance their ever-increasing longevity.

So if proposing to work long hours over the holiday season in exchange for summers off sounds appealing, pitch it to the boss as a way to cover the seasonal rush as well as providing flexibility to workers. Just be ready to defend the idea: 27% of employers cited administrative complexity as a reason for not doing more with flexible scheduling.

Other retirement experts say automation is the best way to make those confidence numbers grow. The Employee Benefit Research Institute created a model predicting how various household groups, including single women and families, would benefit from having their old 401(k) plans automatically transferred to their new employer when they change jobs. They found significant improvement in retirement security simply due to the lack of “leakage” around those times of job transition.

“Employers can and do tremendously influence employees’ ability to save,” said Transamerica’s Collinson.


Janet Kidd Stewart writes for Tribune Content Agency.