Bauer Faculty Research Focuses on Marketing Retirement to Employees

Published on September 29, 2014

Study Finds Employees Benefit with Flexible Options of Retirement or Staying on the Job

Betsy Gelb is the Larry J. Sachnowitz Professor of Marketing & Entrepreneurship at Bauer College.

Betsy Gelb is the Larry J. Sachnowitz Professor of Marketing & Entrepreneurship at Bauer College.

Faculty from the C. T. Bauer College of Business at the University of Houston are examining how organizations position retirement to employees, finding that many companies see it as a human resources issue rather than also a marketing opportunity.

Professor Betsy Gelb recently published research in Business Horizons that focuses on how employers can market retirement or can work with employees to keep them within the organization in some capacity.

Along with UH Vice Provost for Undergraduate Student Success Teri Elkins Longacre, who teaches management at Bauer College, Gelb interviewed human resource experts to learn how companies decide between encouraging retirement and encouraging staying on the job, and also how they accomplish each to maintain a workforce that is best qualified for the job.

“I can’t help but notice that it’s a significant issue to companies, given current law that an organization can’t force someone to retire simply based on age,” Gelb said. “But many organizations see these issues narrowly.”

According to Gelb, who teaches marketing at Bauer College, employers have several choices to market retirement to employees. Among the possibilities are to encourage them to save early so they can afford to retire.  Alternatively, to keep an employee who wants to retire, employers can tailor schedules and rewards to the needs of the individual.

To  make retirement more desirable, “large companies can imitate Shell, Exxon and Ford, starting programs and organizations to help make retirement meaningful, but any organization can encourage retirees to keep the company email address and can set up space for a retiree who stops by to use a shared office,” she added.

The research concluded that if employers view retirement as a product that employees can consider, this will allow them to be flexible. They can tailor a job to either retain an employee, or to move them toward retirement in an affordable and desirable way.

“Employers could be far more imaginative than just tweaking financial packages for retirees,” Gelb said.

Gelb’s research was included in the September-October issue of Business Horizons, a management journal. This marks Gelb’s 23rd published piece in the journal, dating back to 1972. The publication honored Gelb for her outstanding contributions with the first-ever “Navigator of Business Horizons” award. Gelb accepted the honor with her trademark humility.

“The current editor of that journal invented that title because I have published so many articles in Business Horizons,” she said. “I think he just enjoyed the idea that longevity should be recognized.”

By Amanda Sebesta