Older people have immense expertise and experience that must not be allowed to disappear. If people would like to keep working, are willing and can do so, why not? Remaining in the workforce is one option. Having a profitable hobby, home based business, doing relieving or casual work may be other options. Encouraging retirees to stay working is something that is still left to do.
If people have had a demanding job, particularly if it involved manual labour, then the thought of continuing to work may be the last thing on your mind. However, whilst extra income is welcome, there are other reasons people want to continue some form of work.
Retirement for some people can be isolating, whereas being part of a workforce can mean socialisation, schedules, making a contribution and having an identity.
Charles Handy in his book, Myself and Other More Important Matters, said about his ‘retirement’: ‘I felt as if I had stepped out of a nice little cave in my life, which may have been uncomfortable and claustrophobic, but was at least a place of safety, into a void, with no idea of how far down it was or what the bottom would be like when I landed’
Of course, not everyone thinks like this. Not everyone wants to work in retirement.
However, it can be very difficult after working for so many years to suddenly ‘retire’ – even if it was planned, rather than a surprise’ retirement (ie: retrenchment, health, family reasons).
I have been fortunate to meet many amazing people doing interesting things in their ‘next lives’. The yearn for learning is big for Lorna Prendergast and David Bottomley (don’t mention retirement to David). Both Lorna and David went to university graduating with a Masters and PhD respectively.
Continuing to learn is important in later life. It is not only stimulating, it can challenge, gives a chance to learn new skills and concepts and there is the opportunity to meet new and different people.
Not everyone may want to go to university – there are U3A course, community courses and in some places there is ‘Laneway Learning’. This is another place where you can enrol in a number of courses. Stephen Peterson, in his ‘retirement’ has presented on ‘Japan – What your travel agent won’t tell you’ and ‘Tackling Retirement’.
Other people such as Ken and Dianne went to an outback station for months at a time to work. He was a handyman and she taught the children of the station. They were valued for their age, experience, expertise and loyalty.
Robyn Green started making soap in her garage and selling to markets. Her passion for soap making saw her business move from the garage to a factory.
Technology has given us many opportunities – there are many courses that can benefit older workers. Technology can also be helpful for those who want to have a profitable hobby or a small business.
Previous thinking that mature workers are unable or unwilling to embrace technology is just that – outdated and ridiculous. Give them the chance.
Mature aged people may not want to work long hours they once did but they should be given the choice and the chance to have a go. Encouragement (not enforcement) for retirees to stay in the workforce will continue to be highlighted.
Older workers by Mike Komives
- Existing knowledge and real-world experience. Older workers’ wealth of experience enables them to be better problem-solvers and helps them absorb new information.
- Quicker and faster contributions. They are easier to train and can begin contributing to the team faster.
- More productive and reliable. One international study showed that older workers were more consistent and less erratic than younger workers.
- Loyal and prefer to stay in jobs longer. Once they have made a commitment to an employer, it takes a lot for them to leave a job.
- Serious about work relationships. Older workers generally put effort into getting to know colleagues and those they will be collaborating with.
- Insight into customer population or client base. Because the population is aging, having older workers who can relate to customers who are over 50 makes businesses more profitable.
- Tend to be more emotionally stable, patient, and resistant to stress. Because older workers have lived through many crises, they have learned to manage their emotions and focus on solving the problem. There is less ‘drama’ and more teamwork.
- Less expensive in the long term. Older workers stay in a job longer, are less expensive to train, and many are already on Medicare, so health costs are lower. In addition, many older workers aren’t as motivated by money as are younger workers.
- Able to develop and mentor younger workers. Older workers are often happy to pass on their knowledge to younger colleagues.
- Larger and deeper networks of professional and personal connections. When business is all about ‘who you know,’ older workers have valuable contacts.
Jill Weeks is the author of 21 Ways To Retire and co-author of Where To
Retire In Australia and Retire Bizzi. Information Provider For Great Retirement Lifestyles.
She is a regular contributor to radio.