What to do in the Post-Retirement Age

December 21, 2010 by Wally Bock

The news release on The Hartford’s 2010 Investments & Retirement Study includes this.

“37.2 percent of Americans now say they are unsure when they will be able to retire and 27.1 percent say they hope to work as long as their health or the health of their significant other allows.”

Since home values vaporized and 401(K) plans shrank in the wake of the Great Financial Meltdown, hardly a week has gone by without a story on people who used to think they could retire, but who are now making other plans.

This last week, for example, we’ve seen “Boomers to Inherit $8.4 Trillion: Will That Rescue Their Retirement?” and “Oldest boomers on eve of traditional retirement age of 65 but 23% still worry about money.”

The bottom line for all these stories is simple. Many people who were planning to retire sometime in the next few years now want to keep working. But you’ve got other people coming up who have been planning on the retirement of their elders to get a shot at promotion. It’s time to start adjusting.

This will not be easy. One thing to consider is offering older workers options to continue working, but on a less than fulltime basis. You will also need to make adjustments for some of the legal and operational issues that come with aging in our society. That demands changes on three fronts.

Evaluate your work processes. Can you make changes that will make the presence of specific workers less necessary? Can standardized processes become a form of knowledge transfer?

Evaluate your technology. Can you make things easier for older workers by automating some things? Can you help their younger peers pick up knowledge?

Evaluate the HR and legal situation. How do pension plan and social security regulations affect the ability to do part-time work? Will internal rules need to change to allow more frequent time off for things like medical appointments?

Those questions are only the beginning. This is not the sort of situation where you can draw up a plan and figure you’re done. The plan will only be the start of continuing cycles of “try and adapt” as we all work to get it right.

Wally Bock is a coach, a writer and President of Three Star Leadership.

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