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Is Retirement The End or a New Beginning?

2016-02-28 13.18.56

We were blessed to be able to celebrate a 90th birthday this month. My father turned 90 on 3 March 2016. Since my mother is only a couple of years behind him, and both have all their faculties (if not quite all their memory), I am nervous about how long my retirement funds are going to have to last.

And if you were to think that Dad has been enjoying a long and healthy retirement, you would be wrong. Healthy, yes; long, no. He retired (yes, retired) from his job as hospital pharmacist a couple of years ago at the age of 88.

A friend of mine has an American grandfather who is about to reach his centenary. When he was 90 or so, he applied for a job as maintenance manager at a summer camp. Somehow age didn’t come into the picture, and he was invited for an interview. They were, understandably, surprised, but perhaps more surprisingly, they offered him the job and he returned (or was invited to return) the next summer.

The reality, of course, is that the vast majority of us do slow down as we get older – some more quickly than others. And no one wants to have to dismiss a 73-year-old employee (or a 90-year-old) for incapacity. A retirement-age policy avoids such confrontation, but it does at the same time cut an organisation off from a potentially rich source of experience and understanding.

Maintaining good relationships with employees and engaging them not only in their jobs but in the life of the organisation, means that when they leave they are more likely to want to continue to engage. Using their expertise in strategy planning, product reviews or operational analysis becomes a useful option. Without such engagement, people will do their job (some very well), but when they are gone, they are gone.

Do you engage with retired staff?

Ian Webster

From Methodist minister to Customer Relations manager in a computer bureau to HR Manager in a newspaper printing and publishing company. Now focussing on training and developing people, people-management consulting and writing and editing.

  1. Fiona Crooks on 23 March 2016 at 2:16 pm

    Thanks for posting the article, Ian. I think it is something for employers to keep in mind – that they can actually give the job to an older person!

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