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NYT: “In A Tight Labor Market, Retirees Fill Gaps Their Previous Employers Can’t.” We See Opportunities for Retirees

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Retirement sounds glorious: time to sleep, travel, spend time with loved ones. But for many retirees, the transition to life without work can be hard. Studies show that, often, the allure of the workplace intensifies when experienced employees step away and try to navigate life without a career.

As the famous college basketball coach Abe Lemons once said, “The trouble with retirement is, you never get a day off.”

The good news, according to The good news, according to The New York Times, is that retirees don’t have to choose between their retirement and the work that they love. Employers are increasingly finding ways to reintroduce highly skilled and experienced former employees to the workplace, striking semi-retirement arrangements that benefit both retirees and the companies they work for.

Writes The New York Times:

“At a moment when the unemployment rate is low, hovering around 3.9 percent, some employers are turning to their pool of retirees to fill holes in their staff.

‘In a tight labor market, firms find recent retirees increasingly attractive,’ said Kathleen Christensen, who funds research on aging and the American labor market at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. ‘Their skills are up-to-date, they possess critical institutional knowledge, and they can mentor younger workers.


‘Hiring back recent retirees appears more common than at any other time since the Great Recession,” she added.

At Aerotek, we have long recognized the benefits of semi-retirement. When coupled with flexible scheduling and opportunities to provide mentorship, it can be a satisfying arrangement for both employers and employees—especially in highly skilled fields like nursing and engineering.

Staying engaged

It’s a great way for recent retirees to stay engaged with the industries and companies that they’ve long been passionate about while also generating the supplemental income to help fund their retirement. Indeed, a recent Staffing Industry Analysts survey indicates that, of those age 56 and older who choose to be temporary workers, 62 percent of them are doing so because they want to supplement their income without looking for a permanent or regular position.

Aerotek contract engineer Gerry Stein, who has 40-plus years as an engineer, says employers are wise to tap into that:

“There’s a lot of skills and knowledge locked up inside an entire generation of older engineers. Whoever figures out how to unlock all that knowledge is looking at a very considerable amount of value. Business value.”

Working with an Aerotek recruiter, Stein said he found fulfilling opportunities to mentor younger engineers while engaging in the kind of problem-solving work that led him to become a professional engineer in the first place. “My Aerotek recruiter keeps in close touch with me. He knows my skills and talents, and consistently puts me to work on projects at companies who need my expertise and years of experience, but aren’t likely to hire me full time.”

Reapplying skills and expertise

Retirees can and frequently want to contribute a wealth of experience and insight, even in physically demanding fields. Many employers are finding new ways to utilize the skills and mentorship of retirees, often in less physically strenuous environments.

Nurses in particular possess specialized skills and expertise that—having been options span from managing cases to working with data as a Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) nurse.

Maureen Scanlan, vice president of nursing and patient care for Montefiore Health System in the Bronx, told The New York Times that experienced nurses are so valuable that the hospital has sought to make contact with older nurses before they retire to offer them some flexible options.

“To retain nurses beyond their natural retirement age is valuable because experienced nurses have a wealth of knowledge,” Scanlan said. “It’s a loss when that level of knowledge retires. They can remain with us in different capacities. It may not be in the role they’ve retired from, but they all become mentors.”

Staffing provides a part-time path

While many retirees would like to keep contributing and earning money, the idea of returning to a full-time, year-round grind has lost its appeal with some. By taking a contract position through a staffing company, many retirees are able to find roles that make the most of their skills and strike the right balance between work and semi-retirement.

Mike Varon, Executive Director of Operations at EASi, a sister company of Aerotek focused on services in engineering and sciences, said part-time employment works especially well for companies that have cyclical product development cycles such as utilities and those in the automotive industry.

“More and more, companies are seeing staffing companies like Aerotek as a vital part of their workforce,” Varon said. “First, because of the agility they’re afforded in utilizing contract employees. Second, because of the access that we provide to high-quality candidates that they otherwise might not recruit.”

Becoming a tremendous resource

The payoff for employers is clear. Several studies published by AARP show that senior staff are more likely to show up on time, work hard, pay attention to detail and make informed decisions using past experiences.

“Older workers are a tremendous resource for organizations because of the experience and variety of situations they’ve been in during their careers,” said Aerotek Senior Professional Recruiter Jackie Ross.

If you’re semi-retired and thinking of re-entering the workforce, Aerotek can help. Visit our job board or Create a free career account today. Upload your resume and customize your job search based on your skills and interests. And consider reaching out to our recruiters who are skilled at providing career advice you can use.