Reluctant Retirees: The Hidden Problem For HR

June 27, 2017 by Josh Hrala

When it comes to retiring, we all know that saving money is important. It’s ingrained in us from a very early age to start saving as soon as possible so that one day we can exit the workforce and do whatever we want with our newfound free time. So, why are there so many reluctant retirees who have followed this financial advice only to postpone the move?

It doesn’t make much sense at first glance. After all, people have worked long and hard to get enough savings to one day retire. Why would they postpone it? Well, it’s because there’s a hidden problem with many retirement plans: they lack retirement lifestyle planning options. Without these plans, employees slowly become reluctant retirees who are unsure what they will do with themselves after they leave the workforce.

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The good news is that reluctant retirees can be motivated to retire with the right amount of planning and care. Here are a few points you, the HR manager, need to understand to ensure your employees retire happily on time:

Understanding Why a Person Puts Off Retirement

Throughout our entire working careers, it’s beaten into us how important it is to save for retirement. This is, of course, a good thing because successful retirement largely depends on how much you have saved up. However, what about the social side of things?

Think about this: after working in an organization for years on end, making relationships with people you work with, having a structured day laid out in front of you every morning, a sense of purpose that driven by your career, a way to make new friends easily in a nice environment, and a comfortable routine to look forward to, what happens when that suddenly vanishes?

Sometimes people don’t realize the impact going to work every day has their well-being, and when they retire, they suddenly can’t enjoy themselves. This isn’t ideal because, after all, retirement is something many look forward to after a long, hard worked career.

On the other hand, some people start to worry about their lifestyle change before they actually make the jump, which can either make them prepared for retirement or cause them to anxiously postpone it. Those that choose to simply not retire are what we call reluctant retirees, and they need motivation and guidance to help them ease into the next stage of their lives.

Why Are Reluctant Retirees Bad For HR?

So, what does this have to do with HR? How can a person’s reluctance to retire negatively impact an organization? After all, it saves time onboarding a new person, right?

Actually, it can profoundly impact your business if you let it. See, if a person refuses to retire even if they are financially ready, over time your organization will stop having a healthy amount of turnover, especially when it comes to senior staff.

Turnover, which is usually considered a bad thing, is actually helpful when it comes to introducing new ideas and technologies into your organization. Basically, there’s a sweet spot with turnover rates where you are able to keep talent onboard while also introducing new talent every so often.

If your organization is full of reluctant retirees – which are typically Baby Boomers right now – chances are that you are under developing millennial talent, causing them to leave your organization or not even apply because they know there isn’t room for them. This sets your team up to fall behind as other organizations march forward with new ideas, technologies, and strategies, which is pretty much exactly the opposite of what any HR manager wants.

How to Motivate Reluctant Retirees

The good news is that motivating reluctant retirees isn’t as hard as it may sound. People tend to want to retire after working so long. They just need guidance and support to make the change.

This type of aid can come in a few different flavors. The best is retirement lifestyle planning, which aims to work one-on-one with retirees to make sure they know what to expect when they make the switch.

At Careerminds, we use a mix of online coaching and e-learning technologies to assist reluctant retirees in figuring out what they want to do and what areas are giving them pause. For example, what does the retiree want out of retirement? Do they want to spend more time with family? Start a different career? Work on a new and exciting hobby? Or do they have no idea yet? These questions can be answered with personalized tools, allowing them to happily exit the organization.

By utilizing these services, you can cut down on employees becoming reluctant retirees, which helps them on a personal level while also helping your organization keep up with the times.

Reluctant Retirees: 3 Things HR Should Remember

Since this is a lot of information, here’s a quick list of things to remember when dealing with reluctant retirees:

1. Try to understand why someone is reluctant to retire. What about the change is giving them pause? Is it financial or is it social? Remember that some people simply enjoy their jobs and will not want to retire for that reason alone. Others are worried about the lifestyle change and what will happen to their day-to-day lives when they stop heading into the office every morning.

2. Know how to motivate. If you notice that you have a large number of reluctant retirees on staff, which can negatively impact talent development in the future, try to find ways to motivate them to retire. This goes hand-in-hand with step one because if you know the cause, you can work with the person to get them the guidance they need.

3. Use a service. HR is already a tough job that requires a lot of attention. You and the rest of your department only have so much room on your plate to handle everything that may come up in the day-to-day running of the organization. For retirement lifestyle planning and dealing with reluctant retirees, it’s best to use a third party service to help take some of the weight off.

If you are interested in learning more about reluctant retirees and how to help them, check out our demo here:

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Josh Hrala

Josh Hrala

Josh is an HR journalist and ghostwriter who's been covering outplacement and offboarding for over six years. Before pivoting to the HR world, he was a science journalist whose work can be found in Popular Science, ScienceAlert, The Huffington Post, Cracked, Modern Notion, and more.

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