Rehiring Retirees as a Remedy for Your Agency’s Talent Gap

Talent shortage is a growing emergency for government administrators, HR professionals, and hiring managers. 

According to Forbes, we’re in the age of “The Great Resignation and Quiet Quitting”. Some studies even estimate that the problem will likely get worse by 2030. As agencies seek to fulfill their professional duties and clients’ expectations continue to evolve, a novel solution has emerged: rehiring retirees. This approach taps into an often overlooked source of expertise and experience.

Retirees who are veterans of public service represent a unique talent pool. They hold the potential to bridge the gaps in specialized knowledge and institutional responsibility. Their institutional insights, gained from serving within diverse departments, enable them to bridge gaps in understanding between newer employees and established processes. 

This unique combination of expertise and institutional responsibility can foster smoother operations and knowledge transfer within organizations. 

In this era of rapid technological development, reintroducing former employees may seem unconventional, but it may also solve the continuous talent shortage. Let’s examine the complexities of rehiring retirees, including the advantages, challenges, and strategic considerations that corporate and government entities must consider. 

How Bad is The Talent Shortage?

Talent shortage occurs when employers find it challenging to fill vacancies. At the moment, this is a worldwide reality. According to a study by ManpowerGroup, 77% of companies have reported difficulty recruiting qualified talent over the past year.

The study shows that the situation might be worse than we think, as the global talent deficit has reached a 17-year high with no signs of decreasing. 

Korn Ferry researchers anticipate a scarcity of 85 million people by 2030. By then, the skills gap could result in a potential loss of $8.5 trillion in annual revenue.

The talent shortage is a multifaceted challenge driven by factors disrupting the labor market’s supply and demand equilibrium. These factors impact organizations’ ability to fill vacancies and create positive economic and social impact. 

Here are the leading factors causing the shortage:

Demographic Shifts

The global workforce is aging. Approximately 25% of the workforce are baby boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) with most retiring or planning to retire within the next decade.

As these experienced professionals retire, the labor force experiences a reduction in skilled workers, creating a skills gap that employers may have difficulty filling.

Rapid Technological Evolution

The rapid pace of technological advancement is reshaping industries at an unprecedented rate. However, this evolution has created a gap between the skills that the existing workforce possess and those that emerging job roles require.

The World Economic Forum’s “Future of Jobs” report predicted that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced by artificial intelligence. The report also stated that 97 million new roles may emerge that are better-adapted to the new division of labor between humans, machines, and algorithms.

Educational Inadequacies 

As technology continues to advance, workers who fail to stay up to date are left behind. These educational inadequacies can be an institutional or personal problem. At the student level, many people are training for occupations that aren’t in demand. 

This creates a misalignment between the skills graduates possess and the skills employers seek, exacerbating the talent shortage.


Due to the rise of freelance work, candidates have greater flexibility in the job market today. For example, according to Upwork, 46% percent of millennials in the labor market are already considering freelance employment. Having numerous alternatives to traditional work makes it difficult for organizations to attract talent.

Can Retirees Be the Answer?

When faced with talent shortage problems, most organizations consider hiring recent graduates, and while they might successfully take on complex technological tasks, they may also lack the critical skills and experience needed for management and leadership roles. 

Companies today must create a mix of retirees and college graduates for optimal organizational performance. Retired seniors and recent college graduates offer a tremendous workforce pool, and leveraging these two generations can be an asset to any company.

In recent years, a new trend called “unretirement” has emerged. Unretirement describes retired workers who’ve either returned to the workforce or are interested in doing so. According to two recent studies, one in six retirees are contemplating unretirement, while two thirds of recent retirees are considering a return to the workforce. 

While rehiring retired workers won’t completely eliminate labor shortages, it could improve the situation. Retired employees can reduce the talent shortage problem since these employees have already demonstrated their aptitude and training for the job. 

The Benefits of Rehiring Retirees

Employing retired older employees has numerous benefits for businesses. With years of experience in their respective fields, these individuals bring a unique set of skills and expertise to the table. They’re a perfect option for companies dealing with talent shortages. Here are some of the best benefits of rehiring retirees: 

Valuable Experience 

One of the primary advantages of rehiring retired employees is that they possess a lifetime of professional experience. Even without training, older workers may be able to fill positions requiring a high level of knowledge, talent, and expertise. 

Typically, it takes months or years of training for new employees to attain higher-level management skills. Additionally, older workers have years of experience in multiple career fields, making them more adaptable than younger workers who are just starting their careers.


Another benefit of rehiring retired workers is that they can mentor younger employees. Entry-level professionals are frequently acquiring the necessary skills and knowledge for success in their fields. A worker with extensive experience in a similar field can walk younger employees through complex operational processes and help them learn faster.

Cost Effectiveness 

Most young people apply for jobs for financial stability, to pay off student loans, or start a family. To meet their high financial need, younger professionals seek full-time employment, which can burden a company’s finances. By comparison, senior citizens rarely have this financial motivation. 

Many of these senior citizens are in better financial positions than younger employees. As a result, they can take on part-time roles at a lower rate compared to younger employees. This is crucial for small business owners and government agencies with low operational budgets.

For employers requiring part-time staff, retirees may be a more cost-effective alternative. 

Attention to Detail 

While older workers may not be as proficient with new digital technologies, they concentrate better than young people. This attention to detail and ability to focus on the task can be invaluable to a business. 

In the fast-paced business world, overlooking simple errors and basic project details can lead to costly problems. When a company hires a senior employee, they acquire someone who can likely spot these errors quickly. More importantly, you have a capable hand that knows what to do in most situations.


It can be challenging to find dependable and responsible employees. Typically, younger workers aim to advance their careers by obtaining pay raises, promotions, and improved job benefits. Sometimes, this objective comes at the expense of their organization. 

Employers frequently hire people who will only remain with the company for a few months before moving on. This can be extremely frustrating, especially considering how much time and money is invested in recruiting processes. Recruiting an older, more dependable workforce can combat this issue.

Senior retirees can be the most reliable and devoted employees, as they mainly want to remain engaged rather than ascend the corporate ladder. 

How to Attract Retirees 

When you’re trying to hire unretired workers, you can use these tips to attract them to your company:

Clearly state your willingness to hire senior workers

Your organization can’t rehire retirees if you don’t show them that they’re an option. So, spread your company’s openness to hiring older personnel in marketing and recruitment materials.

Provide important information, including payment, vacancies, culture, and content on job platforms. Pay attention to the words you use in your job search adverts. Avoid using terms like ‘young professional’, ‘high-energy’, and ‘tech-savvy.’ These carry a notion that you’re looking for young people.  

Also, your job adverts should have older staff interacting with customers. Share success stories regarding your older employees on your website and in social media. 

More importantly, it matters how you recruit. For example, if you’re going to rehire federal retirees, publish job openings at alumni meetings, local job fairs, and other similar events. These are events where you frequently find federal retirees who are open to job openings. You can also post job ads on your website, dedicated job sites, and social media.

Beyond the adverts, ensure that you mention age diversity in your DEI policy objectives. Such an objective should be in a mission statement that’s publicly displayed on your website and in all employment postings.

Review job descriptions, salary, benefits, and perks

To attract older workers, your organization should update job descriptions, compensation and benefits packages, and bonus offerings. Make your company’s website and job advertisements accessible and appealing to older workers so they can locate relevant information on benefits. In particular, you can attract this demographic with retirement planning, fitness programs, better health care, and commuting perks.

To make your website accessible to seniors, ensure a clear and legible font and easy-to-navigate layouts to accommodate people with potential vision challenges. Additionally, offer alternative formats for job information, such as audio versions or downloadable PDFs with explanations written in plain language.

Cultivate an age-inclusive workplace culture

Make sure your company is age-inclusive and doesn’t discriminate against older workers. Creating an intergenerational workforce, mentorship, and reverse mentoring can boost productivity, collaboration, knowledge, and skill-sharing.

One of the best ways to foster an age-inclusive workplace is to have diversity training programs that address ageism. Create intergenerational employee resource groups and leverage employees’ individual stories to disprove age stereotypes.

Consider providing ergonomic chairs and accessible restrooms for seniors. This fosters belonging, innovation, and creativity in your company.

Provide learning and growth opportunities

Training and development can help unretired and retiring older workers keep up with new technology and market trends, as well as improve company success. Such training can include online courses, workshops, mentorship programs, and conferences.

Reverse-mentoring programs have become a popular method of learning for older employees. In reverse-mentoring, a younger employee helps an older employee in areas where they may need help, like with the use of digital technologies. This helps older workers develop digital abilities and contributes to an inclusive work culture.

Flexible work arrangements

Compared to younger employees, retirees may not have the energy to meet up with the rigors of full-time employment. Consider providing flexible employment options like part-time, remote, or hybrid work. Arrangements like these will help older workers capitalize on their experience by letting them balance their work with their personal lives.

Expand your interview procedure for senior staff

Retired workers have different demands and expectations than active workers, so it’s important to adjust your interview technique accordingly. 

You should create a welcoming environment during interviews by including seniors in your interview panels. Remove age-related inquiries from employment applications, such as those that ask for a person’s age, date of birth, or graduation year.

Retired applicants may be impressed if you provide them with frequent breaks and screen reading technology, which is designed to assist individuals with visual impairments. Screen-reading tech converts on-screen text, buttons, and other visual elements into synthesized speech, allowing users to hear or feel the information displayed on the screen. 

Using screen reading software during interviews for retirees with visual impairments ensures equal access to digital materials. It promotes inclusivity and allows candidates to independently engage with job-related information. It also enhances their overall interview experience and demonstrates your commitment to accessibility and diversity.

Final Thoughts 

As the world grapples with a severe talent shortage, rehiring retirees has proven to be a reliable alternative. However, the path to success requires deliberate efforts. For the best results, you must be willing to create a conducive environment. To do that, treat all employees in a fair and consistent manner and implement a consistent performance management system.

By embracing this novel perspective, agencies can transcend the limitations of the talent shortage and pave the way for a future characterized by resilience, innovation, and enduring success.

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