Gone are the days of workers receiving a golden handshake and having a few short years to enjoy life. Retirees today are living longer and changing the shape of this life stage.
Transition pathways in retirement are becoming increasingly common and predicted to grow given longer life expectancies, insufficient retirement incomes, and older adults’ desire to remain socially engaged.
The latest labour force figures show that 40 per cent of the nearly half a million people who entered the labour force over the three years to October were over the age of 55.
That means that nationally, almost one in five of all workers, or 19.6 per cent, are now aged over 55, up from just 11.4 per cent two decades ago.
In a society where people want to, and need to, work longer, ‘unretirement’ is an increasingly popular option. For ‘unretirement’ to be viable, employers have an important role to play. Employers need to:
Australian employers have been slow to engage with the realities of an ageing workforce. Older workers are exposed to workplace psychosocial stressors that can affect their mental health and wellbeing during their late careers and the transition to retirement. On the other hand, there are opportunities to be harnessed; an ageing workforce has the potential to positively impact organisations’ capacity, reputation and performance.
When an organisation engages with the realities of an ageing workforce, enhances age diversity, and addresses stressors experienced by older workers, the benefits for individual employees are tangible. These benefits include:
A positive organisational culture is known to improve employee health and wellbeing. Creating an environment where people can proactively decide how they would like to work as they age allows individuals to experience a better transition to retirement. With workplace and societal improvements for older people and the economic need for a strong labour force, people can choose to unretire or keep working productively indefinitely.
By supporting those who have retired from their organisation through best-practice alumni programs, leaders can support the mental health of their former employees and facilitate a transition back into the workforce for ‘unretirees.’
The three policies workplaces need to support ageing workers
Fitness for Work Policy is not incorporated into and does not form part of an employee’s employment contract. Rather, it provides guidelines for employees and managers, and summaries of applicable legislation.
Flexible work policy. A phased or transition to retirement means that workers are not pressured to stop working entirely once they reach a certain age but may be able to reduce hours or utilise leave entitlements one or more days per week. This can allow older workers to spend time with their families and grandchildren, pursue other hobbies or take time to relax.
Retirement policy. The business acknowledges that an age diverse workforce has real benefits for any organisation. The ability to harness the skills, experience and enthusiasm of people of any age creates a cooperative work environment where the individuals, regardless of their age, can contribute.
If you’d like to get in touch about how Transitioning Well can support the later career and retirement transition, contact us today. And be sure to check out more on our Retirement Coaching Program and free resources here.