With 4 million baby boomers set to retire in the next few years, they’ll soon be a large new influx of people lining up their putts and enjoying their holiday homes. And as the nation’s wealthiest ever generation, what’s not to look forward to?!? Boomers will finally get the free time - and money - to enjoy themselves after decades of hard work.
Yet despite the ‘golden years’ being the dream of many, among the boomers are a few people who aren’t looking forward to this milestone. In fact, they’re dreading it.
But why? Here are four reasons why baby boomers might not yet be ready to retire:
Their work is intimately tied to their sense of self
We all show up to work for a paycheck, yes. But for most of us, work is much more than that. It’s an identity; it’s who we are. We’re an ‘Operations Manager’ or a ‘Telecommunications Rigger’ and we derive intellectual and personal satisfaction from going home after a hard day’s work and knowing we’ve contributed.
And for many, work is even more than a contribution: it’s a social network. Baby boomers especially are among the longest-serving and most loyal staff. This means that they’re more likely to have built strong social bonds with people at work...and that they’ll dearly miss these bonds when they retire.
For many boomers, work is not what they do - it’s who they are. Given this, many are unsure about how this change of identity will affect them.
They’re asking themselves: What’s next?
Along with being long-serving, baby boomers are dedicated employees. They’ll often go the extra mile for employers, including contributing long hours when required. For many, this means that they’ve prioritised work over all else, and their personal and social life may simply not have been as important, or they may have felt they didn’t have time for it.
When you’ve been extremely committed to work for a long time and are used to the routines and satisfaction it brings, the idea of going from 40 hours of work one week, to none the next can feel terrifying. Suddenly, the days are not ordered in the same way or ordered at all, there’s no immediate plans, and a lot of time to fill. The idea of waking up and not being filled with a sense of purpose (that work provides, but can easily be replaced with other pursuits), means many boomers fear boredom and frustration in their retirement.
They can’t afford to retire
Despite boomers being the wealthiest generation ever, there’s also a significant proportion of them (especially women) who simply can’t afford to retire.
And this number is only growing. In a decade, the number of women aged 60 to 64 in the workforce has nearly doubled. The number of people in the workforce aged over 65 has increased too: now, 12% of the workforce are 65+, compared to in 2002, when it was only 6%.
It’s simply too hard to talk to their employer about retirement
Many boomers may want to retire, or at the very least, discuss opportunities for a phased retirement. But being in their fifties or sixties, many fear that bringing up the ‘r’ word with HR or their manager will give them the impression that they’re no longer committed or interested in the job, which could quickly lead to consequences, including an early redundancy.
To quell this fear, employers should offer their team an (opt-in) transition to retirement program, so they can feel supported in discussing and planning for their retirement.
Make the transition seamless
Just like any other change in life stage, the idea of retirement can bring mixed emotions: from elation to dread. It’s never safe to assume that anyone wants to, or is ready, to retire, and HR Managers should approach the subject with the right tools in place to support boomers every step of the way.
Career Money Life has partnered with Changing Gears to help you manage your people’s transition to retirement. Our program helps your people discover their individual interests and passions and pursue them, while at the same time giving them access to all of the services they’ll need to phase-in their retirement. We remove fear and doubt - giving your boomers the answers to ‘what’s next’ and helping them navigate their changing life stage.
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