For most of us retirement is the end goal. The place we crave to be throughout our working lives. Endless days of rest, and relaxation. Answering to no one but ourselves. Free, calm and in control.
What many of us don’t realise is that as we approach this exciting life stage, excitement and anticipation are often replaced by anxiety, trepidation and fear. Sailing off into the sunset is a big thing, especially if we’ve lost the anchor of work, the support and the camaraderie of our ‘crew’.
Cast your minds back to the time when you left school – you may have been heading to university, into a gap year, or even a job. You had no real idea of what was coming, how you would feel, whether you would cope.
The rite of passage into retirement is similar, but even more scary. This is the last big life transition. You may be older and wiser, but you still don’t really know what lies ahead. And what’s more, health and finances are now much more of a concern than they were forty years ago.
I’ve spoken to hundreds of employers, and they’re often completely shocked when I explain what retirement today looks like and how it feels. Usually, they’re under the misapprehension that the more senior members of their team are counting down the days until they can finally call it quits. They believe it’s excitement that’s building within them, not anxiety and fear.
Retirement Reality Check
At this point, I usually wade in with a retirement reality check – sharing my experience of what retirement is and what it is not. At first, it can feel incredible, just like a long holiday, but after a while, things get real, and that’s where it can all start to fall apart. Retirees today have to deal with:
- Loss of identity. If they’re no longer an electrician, doctor, teacher, or driver – who are they?
- Loss of interaction. Needing to make new friends for the first time in a long time but not knowing how.
- Anxiety. Having more time to fill and less money to spend.
- Overwhelm at the options open to them, so much so, they do nothing.
- Guilt about receiving money from a pension, without actively working for it.
- Grief – mourning the loss of their old life and everything that went with it.
- Depression and despair.
And when you look at it like that, it’s not such a great place to be, is it?
How you can help?
As with any big life event, preparation is key. You’ve more than likely helped your employees plan financially for retirement, but as you can see, that alone is not enough. For me, honesty, upskilling, and support are key.
Let’s go back to our school days. It’s unlikely you were handed an envelope with your grades and shown the door to the big wide world. I’m sure before that came guidance and preparation. At this point in life, it wasn’t really about the money (the assumption was your parents or scholarship would take care of that) it was all about the bigger picture; making sure you were forewarned and forearmed.
Retirement preparation should be the same. It’s about creating a blueprint for later life. Crafting a new purpose and way of being. Here’s my advice:
- As your employees approach retirement, paint an honest picture of what they can expect. Bring back former employees to share their stories of the transition into retirement. Here honesty is key. It’s not about painting a rosy picture; it’s about speaking the truth.
- As they transition to retirement, help your employees explore what’s possible in the next chapter. They may have to continue working (not necessarily for you, but in some way), and to do that they may need to develop new skills. Help them help themselves.
- Give them a good send-off. You may be wondering why you should invest in people who are about to leave the business, asking “what’s the point?” The point is this: these people may have given their all to you, supporting you through thick and thin. If they feel you have given something back, even when you didn’t need to, they will leave satisfied and fulfilled. With a pension, plans and a positive mindset. Something that can only bring good things back to you and your brand.
If you’d like to know more about preparing your employees for retirement, then please get in touch, I’d love to help you help them.