Healthcare workers delay retirement

Thanks to the sluggish economy, workers are staying on the job and putting off retirement, with healthcare employees leading the trend. Of all sectors, the healthcare industry saw the largest decline in retirement rates in recent years, according to a report from the Conference Board.

In 2009-10, just 1.55 percent of full-time workers aged 55 to 64 retired within 12 months, compared with almost 4 percent between 2004 and 2007.

To handle the effects of delayed retirement, healthcare organizations are incorporating new workforce strategies. Some hospitals are using "role transitioning" for their older workforce--such as offering them more flexible working hours, shorter shifts and seasonal work, notes HealthLeaders Media.

But as healthcare organizations try to rein in spiraling costs, delayed retirement can hurt their attempts to cut back on labor costs, according to the report.

Delayed retirement also looms to exacerbate the ever-growing physician and nurse shortages. "Then as these folks retire it's just going to widen the gap," Nancy Jennings, a vice president of clinical operations at Chesapeake Regional Medical Center, told HealthLeaders. "There is no way that the rest of us baby boomers are going to stay home and not seek health services, and there aren't enough nurses in the pipeline to manage the rest of us."

For more:
- here's the Accounting Today article
- read the HealthLeaders Media article
- here's the report summary