Making employees nearing retirement age feel good about their work might be the best way to keep them on the job.

Researchers at the Employee Benefit Research Institute, Washington, make that point in an issue brief that draws on data from a survey of 5,722 retirees.

Employers seem to have a 2-year window in which to influence near retirees’ decisions to stay or go, the researchers report.

About 61% of the participating retirees said they would have been open to employers making them feel needed or telling them that their work has long-term value, and only 10% of the participants said they would reacted negatively to that kind of approach.

Employers also tested the popularity of 18 other possible incentives and strategies for keeping workers on the job.

In addition to appeals to ego, the most popular strategies among the retirees were:

- Permitting part-time workers to collect full pension benefits.

- Permitting part-time workers to collect partial pension benefits.

- Permitting workers to work seasonally or on a contract basis.

But the EBRI researchers found that, in reality, 72% of the retirees who were asked by their employers to stay on the job reported that the employers offered them no incentive to stay.