What If Retirement Isn't For Me...?

By Megan Giles: Retirement Transition Consultant.

It may or may not be a surprise to you but not everyone approaching the age of retirement is actually planning to retire in the true sense of the word. Without a doubt there are many out there who can’t wait to hand in their swipe card and farewell their colleagues (or slip out as quietly as they can!), but there is an equal portion out there who don’t want to.  These people enjoy work – the structure, the camaraderie, the opportunity to utilise their skills and experience, the ability to keep learning, and even the challenges! There is no right or wrong and what works for one person will not necessarily create an exciting or satisfying reality for another. Key is knowing what is important to you as you approach the age of retirement.

 Image: For women planning for retirement may still very well involve work

With this in mind, it was slightly concerning to read the news last month that the Gladstone Power Station (in Queensland, Australia) is focusing its workforce downsizing strategies on workers over 55 years of age.  Specifically because workers in this age group are perceived to be “too old to meet challenging changes”. There may very well be employees in this age bracket who may struggle with change, but I would argue that there are likely workers in all age brackets who will struggle to adapt. From my experience, under-performance in the workplace doesn’t discriminate by age!

I appreciate that this comment may have been taken out of context and through further research did find that the strategy being offered is an Early Voluntary Retirement scheme for employees to elect to take up the offer. Regardless, it did get me worked up.

 Image: Passion and drive is key in the workplace, regardless of age.

Research shows that older workers tend to take less sick leave, experience lower turnover in roles, and importantly possess a huge amount of corporate knowledge – the nuances of how and why things are done to ensure businesses deliver great service and/or generate revenue. The other fabulous thing older workers contribute to is workplace diversity. Different experiences, backgrounds and ways of thinking tend to lead to higher levels of creativity and innovation and thus better outcomes for businesses. Mature workers may fear that they don’t have as much value to offer in the digital age, but the reality is that you don’t need to be technologically savvy to offer a fresh perspective on an issue or to impart influencing and negotiation skills. There is huge value, both tangible and intangible, that older workers contribute to the workplace. No organisation can afford to lose an employee who is skilled, motivated and wanting to make a positive difference, irrespective of their age.

What do you value?

A fulfilling and satisfying life is created by understanding your values - that is what’s important to you and what you hold dear, and then taking action aligned with those values. If work is something that continues to inspire you don’t assume that the obvious step at the age of retirement is, in fact, retirement. For many people work is what keeps them energised and feeling young. Blaze your own path and do the things that excite and motivate you. If that involves work, don’t let age get in the way of you making a positive impact in the workplace.

What is your unique contribution?

If your goal is to continue working but you have started to doubt your contribution, take a moment to reflect on the unique value you add to your team or company. What are the abilities and skills you bring to the workplace, what are your strengths, what are your learnings, and what do others admire in you (if you’re feeling brave you may actually like to ask this question of a trusted colleague).

Write them down, celebrate them (because I bet it’s been a while since you did that!) and then pack them in your toolkit each day as you go to work!

Until next time!

Megan Giles

Retirement Transition Consultant

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