Many accounting firms and their clients are going to continue facing staffing shortages, so a great deal of attention will be paid on attracting and retaining talent. The focus so far has been primarily on entry-level and more senior staff with a few years’ experience. I believe that more firms and businesses will soon also be paying increased attention to retiring and soon-to be-retiring individuals.

Confirming this are results from a recent survey by Hewitt Associates of more than 140 midsize and large employers that revealed that 61 percent have developed or will develop special programs to retain targeted, near-retirement employees. Although just one-in-five (21 percent) believe that phased retirement is critical to their company’s human resources strategy today, that number nearly triples (61 percent) when employers look ahead five years. 

What was more interesting than the survey results was the narrative of some of the steps that companies are taking as they explore development of possible programs:
• Significantly increasing their efforts to obtain information from employees nearing retirement eligibility;
• Developing an understanding of initiatives that will effectively retain key groups;
• Comprehending barriers to the adoption of phased retirement programs; and 
• Establishing new policies on rehiring retirees.

Nearly all companies (92 percent) reported that retention of skills, knowledge and/or experience—cited by employers as the most important reasons for offering phased retirement programs—were also among the most important factors in determining the success of those programs. Three-fourths also cited employees’ desire to gradually transition into retirement as important, and nearly half (49 percent) said that employees’ ability to qualify for health care benefits was critical to the success of their phased retirement arrangements.

And this set of conclusions is probably the most important aspect for firms and businesses exploring this option to focus upon. To be successful, the initiative must be structured as a win-win, meeting the needs of both the firm or business and the skilled retirees. Actually, this isn’t much different when you think about it then what you see in the most successful programs for attracting and retaining those from Generations X and Y. 

A summary of the survey results may be found at


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