We have partnered with Breakwater Consulting’s Jaye Smith, one of the original founders of Partners International and a nationally recognized Encore thought leader to deliver these programs.
Below is an interview that Jaye conducted for SHRM Business Blog wherein she answers a number of questions about the Encore process and the changing definition of Retirement from her book The Retirement Boom: An All-Inclusive Guide to Money, Life and Health in Your Next Chapter.
1) How is the concept of retirement evolving?
We are in a fascinating time in history. Baby Boomers are creating their own definition of retirement. We are not approaching it like our parents did. We are redefining what this next chapter looks like. Some of course are following the more traditional path of leaving their careers and focusing on the 3 Gs – Gardening, Golf and Grandchildren. For most however, planning for retirement, or more aptly described as the next chapter and for many a reinvention, is evolving.
There are new rules and many different approaches. Many companies are encouraging their Baby Boomer employees to stay on beyond their traditional retirement ages. Some are providing a phased retirement approach where the employee works 2-3 days a week, continuing to share their expertise and organizational knowledge and history, while also mentoring those who will eventually be taking over their role.
More cutting-edge companies are taking a proactive approach to managing their Baby Boomers, whooften represent 20-30% of their current workforce. Thoughtful workforce strategy and succession planning is required to enable business continuity and knowledge transfer.
2) Some companies offer employees sabbaticals or unpaid leave. What’s the value of these programs for workers nearing retirement?
My co-authors and I interviewed nearly 500 people over the last 8 years or so. Many of those we interviewed had taken sabbaticals or unpaid leave to reboot and recharge their batteries and their lives. Some however were experimenting, testing the waters of either a new and different place to live or to try something new. A number of people took what they called a pre-retirement break. That time away with family or on their own enabled them to experience what it will be like to no longer be at their current job and begin to create new pathways, resources, contacts and develop other interests. It better prepared them for the day they leave their job for good. Another person, who was 62, loved her career and wanted to continue working for at least another 8 years but was exhausted and needed a break. She took a three-month break just to refill her cup and nurture her tired body and soul. She came back re-energized and ready to take on another 8 years.
3) What else can companies do to help employees prepare for retirement?
Companies are beginning to pay attention to their Baby Boomer employees for lots of smart and practical reasons. Many of the financial services companies, for example, are providing smart financial advice about using their 401Ks or other retirement investments the company has helped them to accumulate in preparation for that eventual retirement date. That advice may come in the form of one-on-one financial advisement or in groups of retirement-eligible employees.
Some companies are setting up their own retirement planning programs that not only address the financial side of retirement, which of course is critical, but also helping employees plan what they will actually do with their timepost retirement. This unfortunately is the exception. We have started to implement Reinventing Retirement programs for companies who see the wave of potential retirements coming and know their employees are consumed with fear and anxiety about what to do next. Companies need to take stock of all employees, in terms of succession planning but being particularly aware and focused on their Baby Boomers.
One client described their Baby Boomers in four categories: First, those employees where the company wants and needs that person to stay and where the employee also wants to stay; Secondly, when the employer wants them to stay but the employee is ready to go; Thirdly where the employer would like them to leave to make way for others but where the employee still wants to stay; and Fourthly, where both the employee and the employer wants them to go. This company is working with management and the employees to identify where each employee falls and then works on a strategy to address the business and employee need.
Another tip is for companies to find ways to leverage the skills, talents and perspective of both their Millennial and Baby Boomer populations. They are more similar than even they realize. One company is creating a mentoring program between these two generations to maximize the benefits of a new and fresh perspective of Millennials with the solid business expertise and experience of Baby Boomers. It is a win/win strategy. Taking the time to think through your workforce and succession planning strategy is critical to the success of your business long term.
4) What are a few practical steps retirees can take to prepare for a second career?
Be clear about your vision for your future: We always recommend starting with one’s ideal vision for their next chapter. If they were totally happy as they look forward, what would they be doing, where would it be and who would they be with?
Network: Identify their network, who can help? It may not be with a specific job offer but with advice, contacts and support. Keep their friends, or circle of trust and advisors involved and in kept in the loop on their thinking and process.
Keep current: It is always good to stay on top of the trends happening in their area of interest and focus. Go to conferences, take classes, retool and be ahead of the trends or at least on top of them. There are so many new ways to learn about an industry and much of it is online.
5) Many employers are reluctant to hire older workers. Why is that a mistake?
Of course we totally feel it is a mistake. There are so many myths about older or mature workers, most of which we are changing by the second. Older workers bring maturity and confidence that younger less experienced workers have not yet developed. They bring knowledge and experience, “been there done that” so that some typical mistakes are not repeated. They are also more flexible and resilient than many of their younger counterparts think. Forcing Baby Boomers out into the market where there is, an all too often, negative perception creates huge problems in society that has a trickle-down effect on the economy and the social fabric of our communities. Providing Baby Boomers with new opportunities to grow, learn new skills to add value to their organizations is a worthwhile investment.