For many people, reaching that time of life when they can down tools is welcomed with open arms, but it can be daunting when considering the myriad potential financial and emotional challenges.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution when dealing with retirement, according to Activetics Director Wayne Bishop.
Activetics works with employers to clarify issues and priorities relating to their ageing workforce using a program called Changing Gears. Mr Bishop said this involved high-level interviews and scenario planning with senior management.
“The Activetics Changing Gears program is an integral element in this process as it provides mature-age employees with an opportunity to review and discuss life-stage issues, often for the first time, in a trusted, safe environment,” he said. “The process also provides the employer with valuable data on the attitudes and expectations of their mature-age cohort towards work, transitions and retirement.”
“Not a lot of people want to put the cue back in the rack in their early 60s. There’s a sense of wanting to stay in the game longer. People generally either stay at work because they haven’t got enough in their superannuation or savings, or they want to stay engaged in a workplace for a much longer period.”
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2016-17 Multipurpose Household Survey found the average age at retirement for persons aged 45 years and over in 2016-17 was 55.3 years. The average age at retirement for recent retirees (those who have retired in the last five years) was 62.9 years.
Mr Bishop said employers had a responsibility to staff who were approaching retirement to provide transition programs and coaching to create alternative paths of employment or guidance.
“Coaching helps enormously because you can dedicate some time to discussing the non financial areas, which are just as important as the financial areas," he said.
“Businesses should try to manoeuvre the transition in different ways, such as by encouraging employees to take a gap year or exercising long-service leave entitlements so they can get a better understanding of what it’s going to be like they no longer have that connection to the workplace.”
Career Wisdom Director Lois Keay-Smith AIMM said companies which cared about their employees would provide an agreed-upon transition plan.
“It may involve a gradual stepping down in time at work and transfer of commitments and include invitations to employee celebrations and alumni engagement,” she said. “Belonging is a core human need and stopping work to do something different, which may be more solitary, can be a big shock.”
Retirement does not have to mean a complete hanging up of the boots though, according to Ms Keay-Smith. There is an in-between – the ‘career encore’, which she described as a ‘re-careering’ or ‘a career reinvention’.
“Rather than a winding down or going into semi-retirement, the career encore can be your best work, but more on your own terms without being constrained by what you have done previously,” she said. “It is a new career (or differently structured work) after your main career.
“People who want to semi-retire or still be actively engaged and earning may want more time freedom and are looking to have more control over where and when they are working, as well as what they do.
“Some people are financially secure while others want to change what they are doing and still earn an income, but can accept a drop in income in exchange for more time. These people could consider a ‘career encore’.
“A career encore is also an opportunity to explore things they have always wanted to do but never had the time for. It can also be triggered by seeing friends around them pass away prematurely and realising they don't want to be one of the people who ‘die with their music still in them’ as Oliver Wendell Holmes penned.”