May 22, 201301:23 PMOpen for Business
with Jody Glynn Patrick
Retiring is so yesteryear; boomers are ‘retooling’
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At what age will you retire? Had you, “average U.S. worker,” gathered your marbles and left the game in the early 1990s, you would have returned your company charge card and office keys at age 57. If you are graduating out of the employed ranks this year, the average age of your classmates is 61. And if you haven’t yet retired, Gallup’s 2013 Economy and Personal Finance Survey says that you hope to be employed until you’re 65.
I will, in fact, turn the “average” retirement age this year (in December), and so it is my pleasure to reintroduce my classmates – today’s baby boomers: We’re healthier than the 2003 class, our stock portfolios took a beating during the recession, affordable health care coverage is a myth, mandatory retirement ages are being legislated (or sued) out of existence, there are more executive retraining options available than ever before, and we’re better educated and more adept with technology than the last generation. We’re not retiring, we’re retooling, and that’s good news, because the U.S. marketplace greatly needs our acquired skills and networks.
Company owners and boards of directors particularly needed our judgment and leadership during the recession; however, the price of our extended job security meant career delays for others. College graduates lost entry-job footing. Middle managers didn’t climb up the executive ladder as far or as fast as usual, and so they aren’t yet fully prepared to take our place. However, if we were well served during the worst of times, during the best of times (just ahead?) one or two wrong decisions will be less likely to sink a ship. With greater risk tolerance margins, some employers will again be tempted to bet on the “next rung” (less expensive) manager. Just as naturally, our own dreams of more time for grandkids, gardening, or skydiving – and hopes for our mentees, the people we have thoughtfully selected and groomed to be our successors – will help nudge us into our next careers.
Next careers? The silver lining
According to Merrill Lynch’s Retirement Study, “The ideal retirement for 71% of [boomers] surveyed is to work in some capacity, and almost half of those U.S. adults who plan to work in retirement say they don’t plan to stop working – ever. On average, people expect to retire at age 61, but they see themselves working an average of nine years in retirement. The average age at which they will stop working completely is over 70.”
Nearly half of the retirees working part time, the study concludes, or in some capacity on their own terms, “are finding their retirement experience to be better than expected.”
Despite concerns over ageism in the workplace, less than a quarter of the individuals surveyed who were over 60 reported that they thought they’d had trouble getting work because they were perceived as being “too old.” The study went on to point out, “As more of the 75-plus million baby boomers move into their 60s, this is likely to become even less of an issue. Many are paving the way now for those coming after.”