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With More Older Americans Quitting, Manufacturers Must Strategize Retiree Retention

Manufacturing quits hit a record high in January, and while many manufacturers have been successful at retaining workers who had planned to retire, most do not have concrete strategies in place to keep such future staff members or to “unretire” additional older employees.
More can now afford to retire: A recent analysis from the Pew Research Center noted that 50.3% of adults aged 55 and over were retired in the third quarter of 2021, up from 48.1% two years earlier.

  • Among other factors, Pew attributes the pickup in retirements to the financial strength of older Americans, with household wealth rising amid soaring home and asset values.

Challenge to manufacturers: For manufacturers, the aging of the workforce and the potential loss of talent pose a significant challenge, especially in a tight labor market.

  • In a study by The Manufacturing Institute—the workforce development and education partner of the NAM—and AARP on multigenerational teams, 78% of manufacturing firms said that they were concerned about generational changes in the workforce. Nearly 40% of manufacturers said that they had encouraged possible retirees to stay longer in their roles in the fourth quarter NAM Manufacturers’ Outlook Survey.
  • 29.4% noted that they had been successful in bringing back former employees to meet demand, including retirees.  

Good start, but more needed: Most manufacturers use multigenerational teams of workers to innovate and boost productivity, according to NAM Chief Economist and MI Director of the Center for Manufacturing Research Chad Moutray.

  • However, 86% of companies have not created strategies to recruit and keep older workers, according to the MI–AARP study.

The last word: “Manufacturers benefit from diversity and inclusion on their teams, including by age,” Moutray said.

  • “The MI–AARP study showed that younger workers benefited from the insights of their older counterparts, but the opposite was also true, as newer employees often bring fresh ideas and technological know-how that everyone can benefit from.”
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