Are Baby Boomers Holding On As Long As Possible? Is Telework a Driver?

Avatar of Andrew Krzmarzick
Andrew Krzmarzick


Forget the long-predicted retirement tsunami of Baby Boomers. They just might be here to stay.

I was reading a post by a colleague of mine and this quote from a podcast interview struck me:

At DHS…20-25% [of our workforce] are at retirement eligible age, or soon to be. But what we noticed in 2012 is that people are not retiring as quickly as they did in the past. Teleworking is a big reason for that. It allows employees the chance to work a more flexible schedule so they aren’t retiring as early as before.

I’ve long been an advocate for telework as I believe it enables this kind of flexibility for a remote workforce – and I’ve argued that it’s not just a recruitment tool for the next generation of government employees, but that it’s a way to retain Boomers whose knowledge and experience are critical for workforce continuity.

That being said, I am wondering if the trend identified in this interview is more widespread.

Are you seeing Boomers staying on beyond a typical retirement age?

Is telework the driver or some other factor?

Related Resources

  • Be sure to check out these related blog posts on telework.
  • You might also appreciate the telework calculator we created to help you determine the potential cost savings achieved through teleworking.

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20 Comments

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Terrence (Terry) Hill

As a proud, healthy baby boomer, who will reach my “minimum retirement age” this year, I plan to continue working as long as possible. Telework certainly helps (I telework 2 days a week and plan to expand that), but also the nature of my work (knowledge worker), my need for more TSP savings (haven’t reached a mil yet), and my need to make a contribution are also important. However, if I feel that I am no longer valued or am no longer able to make a contribution, I would probably “pull the trigger.”

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Henry Brown

As one who “hung on” for years after I was eligible for retirement, believe that telework (I worked from home for the last five years) played a role, in my staying 10 years beyond my eligible date, but NOT a significant one. After the last management change 3 years prior to my retirement it was obvious, at least to me, that my contributions were not wanted, tried several different techniques to engage but when it became apparent that I was not going to be a productive co-worker, I planned and executed my exit where/when I had maximized my TSP savings and maximized my leave (both sick and regular) buy-back. And picked the a time when the real-estate market was close to the bottom where I was retiring to so that I could purchase outright my “retirement” home with a portion of my TSP savings.

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David B. Grinberg

Great question, Andy.

I’m not sure whether telework is the “driver” but it certainly must exert some influence. However, I’ve also noticed that buyouts are increasingly popular these days and increasingly being offerred. We may be seeing more buout offers in the near future due to the dire federal budget situation. These buyouts may counter any effect of boomers putting in extra years beyond retirement age. Just a hypothesis on the fly.

DBG

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Peter Sperry

I suspect more of them are hangining on because there is nowhere else to go. The second career as a contractor opportunities have been going away rapidly. Many feds used to plan on 20-25 years on the government payroll followed by 15-20 working for a contractor. Now more of them are just doing 40 for Uncle.

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Avatar Image Bill McDermott

Telework is just one of many factors which will vary widely by individual. I think for many financial uncertainty is more significant factor. Most boomers now working are covered by FERS and not CSRS where the amount of money you have accummulated in the TSP is key to financial security. And I do agree that in years when many retired at earliest possible date it was to move on to another job..not retirement. Lastly the days of reaping a huge financial gain from selling your home seem to have passed us by, either because many bought up in mid career or kept re-financing. But telework is a plus as I type this from my couch.

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Stephen R. Gallison

The cost of living is creeping up – check gas prices, food prices, taxes etc. fixed incomes are scary especially to those who are use to having discretionary income and to face a future that is this uncertain is a big reason to stay engaged in the employment market – Telework has certainly been very instrumental in reducing the stress of commuting and allowing SMEs to focus on their craft without all of the things and negative attitudes that are part and parcel to the workforce. I for one will work until it isn’t fun anymore, then I will become my own boss and select the bait I want to use to catch my dinner.

Retirement sounds like a wonderful adventure fraught with uncertainties but you’ll know when it is your time to exit the stage. But before you go mentor a younger person who will help shape the America you want to live in in your retirement.

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Bryan Conway JD, PMP

The Baby Boomers are definitely hanging on as long as possible – and then we wonder why college grads can’t get a job. “I just don’t understand why Johnny is still living at home, he is 30 years old for goodness sake!”

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Kevin Curry

Good insight. “Holding on as long as possible” is a bit of a cynical way of putting it. ;^) How much is inability to afford retirement a driver? Telework as an enabler. Longer, healthier life span as another enabler? In any case, seems worth checking forecast assumptions.

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Barry Everett

They will have to pry my smartcard from my cold, dead fingers. :-)

Seriously, though, telework, a vigorously pro-active management chain and generally supportive Executive Branch have all contributed to my longevity. However, the most important factors are my co-workers, and my work. Even though we are going through tough times now, (or maybe because of them) there is much to accomplish here. Quitting is not yet an option, but ask me again in 2016…

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Andrew Krzmarzick

@Peter and @Bill – Great points on the contractor opps drying up. That was the default, wasn’t it? Retire, collect your benefits and go back to keep contributing and make a bit more. Not so much these days, so might as well stay put.

@Stephen and @Kevin (hey bud!) – Totally agree with the financial pressures on people right now. Imagine being a Boomer: you are likely in a sandwich of financial constraints, covering the cost of both aging parents AND debt-strapped college graduates who are having a hard time getting into the workforce. (And the cynicism was not intended – I really do sympathize and agree with this comment from Twitter:

@Bryan – Per my previous comment, it’s kind of a vicious cycle right now. How do we break out of it?

@Barry – Great attitude. Spoken like a hard-working, “we’re gonna solve this problem” Boomer (I say with the utmost and sincere respect).

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Janina Rey Echols Harrison

I don’t have a mil, but, budget is such a thankless job and I have a business prospect to pursue so planning to pull the chute soon. Telework would certainly improve my prospects of staying, but this was a second career, the mortgage is paid off, and I found out I make dynamite peanut brittle and candied jalapenos that people want to buy. Off to a third career.

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Carolyn Moeger

My parents are both state employees, and have been at the same agency for 20+ years. My dad said he would retire when I started college. Senior year in my Undergrad, and he says he’ll retire when I graduate. I think for many baby boomers kids are an issue. They have a drive to keep working to support their kids, even when their kids don’t need supporting.

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Karen "Kari" Uhlman

I appreciate the link to the callahantics blogspot Rebecca. This is exactly why I am unable to retire. I would not have health insurance if I did. I am still socking away my money in the Deferred Compensation plan in hopes to use that money to purchase my health insurance once I retire. I don’t have enough saved should I live to be 90.

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