The Great Retirement

Preparing Employees for Retirement

Organizations are struggling with labour shortages. According to CBC news, some of this shortage may be a function of “The Great Retirement”.  They reported a recorded number of 55 – 64 year-olds in addition to the 65+ group has retired in the last 12 months. In my experience, retirement brings about three major changes in money, time and purpose:

Retirement’s Major Changes

  1. When working, most people have a steady flow of income, typically from one source – their wages.  In retirement they may have multiple sources of income such as CPP, pension, investments, registered retirement savings fund, and equity in assets such as their home. Not only does this bring a shift in income, and now to manage such, but it also brings a mental shift; the mental shift from saving to spend savings. For many years people were programmed to save for retirement – saving is a known pattern of behaviour and thinking.  However, in retirement, incomes often flows from those savings, thus a 180 degree change in the pattern of behaviour and thinking.
  2. Time: Boomers are still the majority of people retiring. . Boomers define themselves by “how hard they work”, and “how much they work”. It is not uncommon to find boomers working more than a 40 hour week. If retirement happens cold turkey – there are a lot of hours in the day for the newly retired boomer to fill. It can be a challenge to fill this time with meaningful activities. This is very much linked with the third and final change.
  3. If you hear someone say, they don’t want to retire or they don’t know what they will do with they retire, it is often because work has been a primary purpose in their life. This is not only from the output and process of their work, but also from the network, socialization, and friends that are connected with work. Once work stops, people can feel lost and without purpose.


What An Organization Can Focus On

There is a whole conversation on the labour shortage, but there is also a question on an organization’s responsibility to support and prepare employees for retirement. Regarding retirement and the organizations roles, we can look at somethings good organization  focus on:

  • social responsibility
  • employee and community mental wellness, and
  • quality experience for employees

What Can an Organization Do?

Based on good organizations’ focus, it seems  logical that employers do have a responsibility to support and prepare employee for retirement..   But what can they do  do to help prepare their employees?  Here are some suggestions.

  1. Partner with experts. Most organizations have an employee pension plan. Approach your pension plan provider and see what programs and/or supports are available for pending retiring employees. Another expert to partner with is your Employee and Family Assistant Provider. They may also have programs and/or supports. These programs can not only address money issues but also time and purpose issues.
  2. Retirement groups. Retired people some times form informal social groups. For example, my mom was a nurse, and as long as she was able to, she attended the retired nurses lunch that was held once a month. I have heard of other informal retired groups meeting regularly, but these groups are rare.  If the organization supported and/or organized retirement group, this group could help transition new retirees with the change of time and purpose.
  3. A lot of wisdom is leaving organizations.  Organizations could capitalize on this by creating their own mentorship program or partnering with existing mentorship programs.  For example, many universities have mentorship programs that organizations could partner with.  Providing retirees with the opportunity to be a mentor is a win-win for everyone and helps retirees with their purpose.
  4. Non professional development. Organization are typically supportive of professional development, but as people move toward retirement, non professional development may be more valuable to them. For example, has someone always wanted to play the guitar, paint, or participate in senior sport competitions?  If people start to learn a new skill or create a new hobby prior to retirement, their adjustment to the change of time and purpose may be less dramatic.  Not only will they fill their time with more purposefully activities, but they will also likely be connected to a new community.

Staying ’mentally active’ and ‘socially active‘ is a big part of a healthy aging, which is a win-win for communities and tax payers.


What Can You Do?

If  your organization has people that are 55+, consider supporting their transition to retirement. As we have learnt from the past preparation and education help people transition through change.

Feel free to connect with Kn/a HR to discuss of how we can partner with your organization to support your employee engagement, and how we can help your organization become a socially responsible employer.

Leah Knibbs is the founder of Kn/a HR Consulting. She is a dynamic, result-producing individual with a proven record of accomplishment in planning and leading comprehensive human resource management strategies. You can read more about Leah here.

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