employee—due to talent shortages, the report found.
Moreover, younger workers may be disinclined to fll the
same roles of their older colleagues. At Newport News Ship-
building, for example, “they don’t want to learn to build
ships,” Jacobs says. “They want to build apps.”
Baby Boomers make up about 34
percent of the 5,000 U.S. employees
at Herman Miller, an ofce furniture
manufacturer based in Zeeland, Mich.
The company implemented a phased
retirement program in 2012 to entice
older workers to stay on the job.
“We are in a tight labor market and have to work to keep
good talent,” says Kim Smit, HR performance account-
ability project manager at Herman Miller.
Employees who are at least 60 years old and have
been with the company for at least five years can
cut back to between 20 and 32 hours a week in
exchange for helping younger colleagues learn
the ropes. They can stay in the program for six
months to two years, giving the organization
ample time to replace them or rethink the
requirements of the position. Program partic-
ipants can continue to purchase their health
care through the company at the same rate
as full-time staffers. “We knew our people
really valued medical coverage,” Jacobs says.
“We wanted people to participate.”
There was some initial pushback from man-
agers who didn’t want the hassle of rearranging
work schedules. Also, some employees were con-
fused about how a reduced workload would afect
benefts such as paid vacation. And while Smit says it’s
difcult to quantify the program’s fnancial benefts, she
cites the high marks it has garnered in employee surveys.
“It’s great for morale,” she says.
Leaders at Herman Miller have long provided employees
with counselors to help them manage their money and prepare fnancially for retirement. This year, the company will
introduce a pilot program designed to address the emotional
side of preparing for a life change.
“There is this existential phase in retirement where
people start thinking, ‘What am I going to do now?’ ” explains Deb Vos, employee benefits manager at Herman
Miller. “We want to provide a softer, gentler way to ease
THE EMPLOYEE RETIREMENT INCOME
SECURITY ACT OF 1974 IS ADOPTED
TO PROTECT WORKERS’ ASSETS
ERISA establishes laws governing pensions
ofered to workers by their employers. The act
is intended to keep workers’ assets safe by
requiring company-sponsored plans to meet
certain standards, such as providing fnancial
reports to both the government and plan
THE REVENUE ACT OF 1978
USHERS IN THE 401(K)
Under section 401(k) of the tax code,
employees can defer paying taxes on
their compensation set aside for future
use. The regulation is originally designed
for highly paid executives, but consultant
Ted Banna realizes the code could beneft
all workers. The section is modifed in
1981, and the 401(k) market explodes.
‘You need to give people ways to
adapt to their changing situations.’