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'Retired' Worker May Be the Wave of the Future

December 29, 1985|PETER WEAVER

A lot of people these days will tell you they're retired, when they're really not.

It's not because they are fibbing about their status in life. It's because they do not realize that they are actually working on a fairly regular basis.

This type of working person "is the wave of the future," says Joan Holleman, a writer for Working Age newsletter (which goes to personnel managers and others in the hiring-firing business).

Someone may be "retired" by his or her employer at age 55, 65 or even 70. After a vacation and sorting things out, the same person may take on a never-ending series of little jobs, big jobs, part-time, contract work, home business--whatever.

This type of worker often doesn't believe he or she is really in the work force and, unfortunately, many of our statistical gathering organizations are not good at covering this type of employment situation.

Older-Worker Issues

Working Age newsletter is part of the trend toward management "enlightenment" about the increasing corps of older workers. It is published by the American Assn. of Retired Persons, an organization that finds itself spending more time on older-worker issues and, perhaps, a little less time on retirement (read: leisure) issues.

The newsletter covers such trendy personnel topics as performance appraisals and mid-life retraining. Grumman Aerospace, according to one issue, was cited as having done a lot of homework on the older workers in its corporate confines.

Having analyzed the true value of the older employee, it's not surprising that Grumman now exceeds the national average of having workers ages 40 to 70 by a whopping 50%.

Polaroid has devised all sorts of ways for employees to "retire" and yet continue to work part-time, on special projects or as consultants. There are others, too, that are finding golden employment opportunities among the silver-haired.

"When employers make truly objective performance appraisals for employees at all age levels," Holleman says, "they're finding that older workers tend to break all the stereotypes. . . . They're often better employees--more loyal, less absenteeism, more productive."

Training Pays Off

Some companies are finding that retraining older workers to keep up with the latest in technology or management techniques really pays off, Holleman says. "When you put a lot of training time into a younger employee," she adds, "he or she might switch to another company to move up the ladder. An older worker usually stays, and the boss gets a lot of value for the training investment."

The Senior Personnel Employment Council of Westchester (New York), according to Holleman, is rounding up all sorts of "retired" people to fit employers' needs. Pay ranges from $5 to $7 an hour on the lower end of the scale, on up to $30 and $50 an hour for special, professional skills.

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