Canada: how to keep older workers

By Julie Mollins

Shorter work weeks, flexible hours and extended healthcare benefits are important for recruiting and keeping older workers, a new survey showed. A poll of Canadians age 55 and older conducted by Ipsos Reid identified several factors that companies need to keep in mind to attract and stop older workers from leaving.

“With unemployment levels at an all-time low, good employees are harder to find,” Christianne Paris, of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) which commissioned the poll.

“Older workers are becoming an integral part of the Canadian workforce,” she added in a statement.

The top factor in retaining older employees is extended health care benefits, according to 60 percent of 2,052 people who took part in the online survey.

Almost 50 percent rated flexible work hours as their second priority, while a guaranteed wage or salary ranked third at 34 percent, followed by phasing in retirement with 24 percent.

Older workers also want more than six weeks vacation a year, according to the study.

The poll showed that although four out of 10 plan to take retirement when they become eligible, 22 percent would like to phase it in gradually and 26 percent would like to keep working beyond retirement on a contractual basis.

The poll indicated that 36 percent of those 55 and older want to work full-time for a few years and then scale back to part-time hours or retire fully, while 38 percent would prefer to stay with their current employer but do a different job.

On average, the survey showed that older working Canadians want to work with their current employer for 3-and-a-half years past their retirement date.

Almost half of those polled said they couldn’t afford to retire, 42 percent want to stay active and mentally alert, 24 percent enjoy the social aspects of working and 21 percent love their job and don’t want to retire, the study showed.

Just over two million Canadians age 55 to 64 were employed in 2006, 43 percent more than in 2001, the study said, citing Statistics Canada.

(Reuters: reporting by Julie Mollins; editing by Patricia Reaney)

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