Employers should adopt policies to make it easier for employees to continue working past retirement age, says a report from the Aegon Center for Longevity and Retirement released Thursday.

Aegon, in collaboration with the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies, polled 16,000 employees worldwide to produce “The New Flexible Retirement” report, which says today's workers are expecting to slowly transition into retirement but face a significant obstacle in that few employers have employment practices to support them.

“Population aging is a global phenomenon,” says Catherine Collinson, executive director of the Aegon Center and president of the Transamerica Center. “The shift toward a proportionally smaller working-age population and larger older population is disrupting traditional employment models and the fundamental economics of government-sponsored social security systems around the world.”

“A flexible retirement, which offers workers the ability to pursue their own personalized transition, can create opportunities to work longer, continue earning income and stay active and involved in society,” she adds. “Moreover, a new flexible retirement can create a win-win situation by serving as a powerful tool to help solve the government, Social Security and employer-related retirement issues resulting from an aging population.”

Globally, the survey found that 51 percent of all workers now expect to retire at age 65 or later (or not at all), and 56 percent envision a flexible transition to retirement. The most common reasons employees give for continuing to work to some extent in retirement are that they want to keep active, they enjoy their work or they have financial concerns.

However, few employers offer policies to help older, experienced workers slowly switch to retirement. The survey found that only 27 percent of workers age 55 and older say their employers offer the opportunity to shift from full-time to part-time working arrangements. Only 9 percent of workers age 55 and older say their employer offers retraining opportunities to extend their careers.

“Employers may be overlooking the opportunity to tap into the knowledge, skills and loyalty of older workers,” Collinson says. “By adopting business practices to support a flexible retirement, employers can benefit from improved succession planning and the ability to optimize their workforce management.”

Employers can help workers ease into retirement by promoting age-friendly work environments with flexible work arrangements. Governments could remove disincentives in Social Security and workplace retirement plans that keep people from working past a fixed retirement age.

Collinson concludes: “A clear strategy for promoting the new flexible retirement can benefit workers, employers and governments in addressing the challenges created by population aging and building retirement systems that are affordable, sustainable and achievable for all.”