Globally, the population is ageing. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, about 15% of the Australian population were aged over 65 in 2017, and this is expected to increase to 20% by 2037. There are more older Australians (e.g. 50 years or over) participating in the workforce, jumping from 47% in early 2000, to over 65% today. These changes are driven by various factors including increased cost of living, longer lifespans, low fertility rates etc. all leading to longer working lives.
As the population ages, the nature of retirement is changing, and it is important for organisations to be aware of this. Historically, retirement was a standard process of a quick and permanent exit from full-time work at 65 years of age. Now there is no formal retirement age in most circumstances, and people are working longer either by choice or necessity. Some workers are seeking alternative forms of retirement, including phased retirement, transitioning into unpaid work, entering an entirely new field, or starting abusiness.
You’ll often hear us talking about the messy intersection between life and work, and the ‘messiness’ in the late career to retirement transition is no exception. Older workers are dealing with a range of issues like ageism, health-related changes such as menopause, additional caring responsibilities with ageing parents, and changes in identity from adult children leaving home.
Organisations need to engage older workers before they begin to think about retirement. Transitioning Well’s Rachael Palmer says what organisations need to do, in collaboration with employees, is find out what are the most appropriate work adjustments for older workers. ‘Ask, don’t assume’ what your workers need in this life stage.
“The alternative is, all the wisdom, experience, emotional intelligence, diversity – all these things that are good for business – walk out the door,” says Rachael Palmer.
Watch the full video below:
Establishing a reputation as an employer that provides genuine and practical support to older workers can contribute to a healthy and engaged workforce. Workplaces that educate and encourage help-seeking behaviours by providing practical tools, resources and information can help those in the late career phase to successfully navigate this tricky life stage.
To find out more about how Transitioning Well can help you older workers in your workplace, take a look at our transition coaching resources.