New Research Uncovers Conflicting reasons More Employees are Extending their Careers

Tuesday, February 14th, 2023

Easterseals — one of the nation's leading disability and community services providers — and Voya Cares® — a program of Voya Financial, Inc. (NYSE: VOYA) that provides resources, thought leadership and advocacy for disability inclusion — announced today the release of a new research paper, titled Employment Extenders: A (labor) force to be reckoned with. The paper focuses on understanding the mindset of Employment Extenders, the individuals who make up the fastest growing segment of the labor market, and points to ways that employers and service providers can support older workers as they prepare to retire. 

"Employers and employees often believe that, once an individual reaches a certain age, it's time for them to start thinking about retirement, but the trend toward continuing to retire later in life, or not at all, is growing," said Kendra E. Davenport, president and CEO, Easterseals. "In a tight labor market, Employment Extenders often represent years of experience and professional knowledge that can benefit an employer's entire workforce, but our study finds that they have unique concerns and needs that employers and community service providers can help them address."

Survey findings reveal seemingly contradictory motivations for extending employment, which raise the question about whether Employment Extenders in the U.S. are working longer because they want to or need to. While the majority of survey participants indicate that they have not saved enough for retirement, with most having less than $500,000 in savings, they also say they are working longer because they want to.

Additionally, Employment Extenders show a lack of future planning for caregiving. Most are not thinking about the increased likelihood that they or a family member may become disabled as part of the aging process, which may accelerate their need to stop working before they plan to do so. Results also indicate that they do not consider the costs associated with caring for themselves or a loved one in their financial plans for retirement.

"At Voya, we're committed to helping employers meet the many benefits needs of every generation of employees — to help them achieve financial well-being through each stage of life," said Heather Lavallee, CEO, Voya Financial. "This research speaks to the importance of helping meet the unique needs of workers nearing or at traditional retirement ages through workplace benefits — and supporting their employees' immediate needs, while helping them to prepare for retirement, whenever that may occur."

In a shift in how traditional retirement is prepared for and viewed, respondents indicated the education, guidance and workplace benefits that would be most helpful to them as they extend their employment and work toward retirement, including:

  • Education to help with transitioning to retirement;

  • Retirement plan options focused on providing an income stream; and

  • Assistance maximizing benefit dollars across retirement savings and workplace health benefits.

"While stereotypes persist about older workers and their contributions to the productivity and cost of an employer's workforce, the fact that more people over 65 are employed — due to a variety of population and social factors — is well established," said Jessica Tuman, vice president of Voya Cares and Voya Financial's ESG Practice Centers of Excellence. "Employers who are challenged by a tight labor market need to look no further than their own workforce to help ease the shortage of workers."

The results of the study also provide insight into four distinct Employment Extender profiles highlighting differences in motivations for continuing to work and needs as they extend their employment:

  • 29% "Want to Work." These individuals are still working because they like it. Work gives them a sense of purpose, and it keeps their minds active.

  • 22% "Part of the Plan." Most of these workers previously retired from another career. They are working because they want money for retirement, but don't necessarily need it.

  • 31% "Worriers." These are the workers who are most concerned about unexpected expenses in retirement and are concerned about maintaining their current lifestyle.

  • 18% "Need to Work." These workers had hoped to retire sooner but need money both today and when they retire — and are worried they will outlive their savings.

The full research paper with expanded findings is available at and Additional resources and a video summary are also available on