Work-life programs, such as eldercare-assistance and phased-retirement programs,
can persuade workers to delay full retirement, but men and women respond differently
to the programs, according to new analysis from Watson Wyatt, a consulting firm.
The firm found that men respond more favorably to eldercare-assistance programs
and women are more likely to take advantage of phased-retirement plans.
The analysis found that eldercare assistance programs--which help workers identify
and evaluate services needed to care for elderly relatives--increase men's average
retirement age by 8 months, versus just 1 month for women. Phased-retirement
programs--which allow workers to transition into retirement by switching to
a part-time or flexible work schedule--stretch women's average retirement age
by 21 months, versus 5 months for men, according to the firm's study.
"Men tend to be 'remote' caregivers who provide financial support rather
than personal care, so eldercare-assistance programs better meet their needs,"
says Valerie Paganelli, a senior retirement consultant at Watson Wyatt. "Women,
on the other hand, are more likely than men to provide 'hands on' personal care
services. The flexibility offered by phased retirement programs often can address
women's caregiving needs more effectively than eldercare assistance programs
Watson Wyatt's analysis looked at the retirement patterns of 37,000 workers
at large and medium-sized firms. Twenty-seven percent of surveyed employers
currently offer eldercare assistance, while 16 percent offer a formal phased
"Employees participate in phased retirement programs for the combination
of leisure time, income, and enjoyment of work that is not offered by full-time
retirement," says Paganelli. "But, with the forthcoming labor shortage,
work-life programs will become increasingly important tools for employers looking
to hang on to much-needed older workers. Those that can keep these workers will
be in a much better competitive position."