Why You May Not Be Retiring

Don’t order that gold watch just yet! You can also postpone the cruise you were planning, keep the hammock packed up and tell your boss to delay your “surprise” retirement party for about five years. That’s the result of the “SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set™ Study” released last week. In this nationwide survey of pre-retirees and retirees age 55+ the concept of retirement has changed significantly and I don’t think we should be surprised.

The bottom-line is 54% of the respondents in the 2011 survey viewed retirement as a new chapter for opportunities in their lives. In 2001 only 31% held that view. Retirement a decade ago was looked at as a time to “wind down.” In addition to the financial aspects, 2/3 of those surveyed wanted to remain productive, active and connected with some type of “job” as the primary means to accomplish those goals. Lastly, pre-retirees planned to delay retirement until age sixty-nine.

Unexpected health problems and job losses forced many of the current retirees surveyed to leave work earlier than planned. In the current survey, SunAmerica renamed their four profiles of retirees: Ageless Explorers-Cautiously Contents-Live for Todays and Worried Strugglers. Use this link to access the study and see which category fits you.

While SunAmerica is interested primarily in the financial aspects of retirement, there are other considerations as well. Where will this new generation of “never say retire” workers find a job? The brain drain of Baby Boomers was supposed to be a risk for employers, but they seem all too eager to replace 47-65 year old Boomers with GenX, Gen Y and Millenials. The prestigious company names where Baby Boomers built their careers and resumes are handing out severance packages (for the lucky ones) like Halloween candy. Many large corporations replace the intellectual capital and maturity experienced workers offer. Privately, HR professionals and workforce planners offer a host of reasons from perceived employee benefit costs to tension between Boomers and workers of later generations as reasons mature workers are offered “a package”. I’ve also talked to younger managers who say they don’t feel comfortable with older workers reporting to them. Their reasons varied.

So if you feel good and want to earn money by working longer; it is important to find companies, industries and managers that embrace experienced workers. Despite lists that profess to have found the “Top Companies for Baby Boomers” or “Best Companies for Senior Employees” these have to be reviewed critically like any other “Best” list. Department to department and manager to manager, companies change. The list ranks the overall policies and hiring practices. A new term, “Encore Career” combines mature workers, earning a paycheck, doing work that is meaningful to them with flexible hours. Some sectors to consider for your “Encore Career” are health care, membership organizations/associations, nonprofits, educational services companies, companies that provide services to older people and smaller companies. Perhaps a lower level role within a large global corporation is a possibility if it is in the same industry as your primary career (the hiring manager may have to challenge HR to bring you in). Some state and local governments still have opportunities and there’s always the possibility to experience entrepreneurship. The opportunities are as varied as franchisee, independent consultant, proven multi-level marketing organizations to opening an independent business. Go For It! Take Your Encore!

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