The Employers' Association

The Employers’ Association (TEA) is a not-for-profit employers’ association, formed in 1939, with offices in Grand Rapids serving the West Michigan employer community. We help more than 600 member companies maximize employee productivity and minimize employer liability through human resources and management advice, training, survey data, and consulting services.

TEA is in the business of helping people. This blog is intended to address human issues, concerns and the things that impact people - be they self-perpetuated or externally imposed. Feel free to respond to the thoughts presented here, for without each other, we are nothing!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


People used to work hard for most of their lives before stepping aside to enjoy the fruits of their labor in a seemingly short period of retirement. They gladly left others to fill the void their absence created – seeking the time to do what they wanted to do rather than what they had to do. Health insurance, an inexpensive benefit meant to prevent financial disaster caused by a serious health condition, was readily available at a reasonable cost upon retirement. Designed to provide a source of income that would “give back” the money workers put into it to augment the responsibilities families shared with their aging relatives, Social Security became the primary resource for many aging individuals. Employees fortunate enough to receive a pension while working often entered retirement with the thought of “living high” rather than of simply “getting by.” Others planned to fund their golden years using equity from their home. People focused more on “when” retirement was going to happen than “if” it could ever occur.

Today, things have changed. More workers are leaving the workforce than are entering it. Family is taking a diminished role in caring for its aging members, often relying upon facilities that can provide appropriate medical care rather than putting their life on hold to help a relative in need. Healthcare Insurance provides cradle to grave coverage for all conditions (or potential conditions – or lifestyle choices made to improve their perceived quality of life). Our social welfare system takes care of individuals in ways that family and/or churches once did – with the responsibility to finance these services resting upon a minority of the population to support an ever-increasing majority. Our safety net is no longer sustainable yet most solutions disqualify those that contributed most to its formation while providing for those that contributed least. People COGNITIVELY understand that saving early in life for retirement makes sense yet few young people have the PRACTICAL ABILITY to begin saving when they really should.

Are YOU planning (and saving) for retirement or are you expecting a system that faces bankruptcy to care for you? A recent survey found that the average retirement-aged American worker has savings of less than $50,000. Mortgages are upside-down for many that refinanced (or over-bought) their homes so anticipated equity is not available to help fund retirement. The cost of living continues to escalate – led by energy and healthcare. While one might be able to drive less, the cost of heating a home is unavoidable and it now costs nearly $800 per month to insure a single individual IF they are healthy enough to be medically underwritten for coverage (i.e., healthy enough that they will probably do not really need the insurance). Are you planning now to handle retirement expenses and healthcare costs on your own or are you waiting for the government to print more money to provide such programs?

What color is YOUR parachute? What are you relying upon to help cushion your landing should you choose to escape the regularity of your work world and venture into the unchartered waters of retirement? If we were to declare a “fiscal responsibility week,” would you join in to prepare for the future or sit passively on the sidelines waiting for life to happen? Make an open comment so that others might be able to learn what they can do to prepare for the future by learning from your planning today.