Do too many organisations see retirement as an event rather than an ongoing process which both the employer and employee should work towards doing well?
It is well known that impending retirement can be stressful for employees. This is particularly true if they have not carefully considered the financial implications of retirement – or the emotional implications such as how they will spend their time. Even for people who have made careful plans the prospect can be overwhelming and the concerns of impending retirement can easily distract older employees, making them less productive at work.
A lack of planning might also lead to employees remaining in the job market longer than they would like to – or even should. Many of the Baby Boomer Generation, born between 1946 and 1964, have reached or passed the traditional age of retirement, i.e. between 60 and 65, and yet numerous employees within this generation are continuing to work – not because they want to, but because they cannot afford to retire. Continuing to work beyond the traditional age of retirement may affect an employee’s productivity and complicate an organisation’s succession planning. This is why retirement counselling services — both financial and nonfinancial — can be so valuable.
- Financial counselling: This focuses on basic savings, budgeting and spending plans, and benefit contribution schedules and payout projections.
- Nonfinancial counselling: This addresses a range of psychological and practical issues that surround retirement, including coping with the resultant loss of identity, exploring volunteer possibilities, discussing housing issues and pursuing “bridge” jobs that will bring in some income and offer mental stimulation. 1/2
For aging employees who are approaching retirement, EAPs can assist workers to cope with unique workplace challenges to keep them productive and happy in their jobs. To achieve broad employee adoption and benefit from retirement programmes, an organisation needs to develop a well-crafted and implemented strategy that includes:
- Commitment from the top-down
Executives and managers should lead by example and communicate clearly to all employees that it is never too late to begin planning for their retirement — but that sooner is always better. In addition to company-supplied financial advice employees should be encouraged to consult with a personal financial advisor for financial planning and an annual review.
- Diverse counseling
It is beneficial for an organisation to provide a broad range of comprehensive resources so individuals can prepare for their own unique retirement challenges. While for some employees financial security is a major concern, for others non-financial issues such as their anxiety about losing their identity when they leave their job will be a major concern.
- Appropriately trained EAPs and counsellors
The success of a retirement counseling programme hinges on specialist staff with training in issues specific to aging employees in addition to expertise in counseling employees of all ages.
Recommendations for Retirement Support
- Start with the basics: Retirement presentations and workshops are a great vehicle for offering basic financial and nonfinancial counselling to groups of employees.
- daytime workshops led by guest specialists;
- all-staff meetings with a focus on retirement planning;
- evening seminars for employees and their spouses;
- formal presentations by an expert who specialises in employee retirement concerns, covering specific topics of interest to your team. If possible, see if the expert is available for brief, one-on-one meetings with employees;
- on-line classes such as videotaped seminars, podcasts and webinars;
- newsletter articles and real-life employee retirement planning success stories.
- Get personal: Hearing from financial experts may prompt employees to seek more personalised information. Individual retirement counselling is the most effective way to improve the savings behaviour and tailored retirement preparation of individual employees. Encourage employees to consult with a financial advisor for individual guidance toward being financially secure in retirement.
- Go big: By organising and encouraging attendance of a larger-scale conference or seminar with several financial vendors covering multiple aspects of retirement, an institution can impact many employees at once. Employees may feel more inclined to seek assistance at an off-site event with an array of outsourced specialists, where they are more comfortable questions and collecting information anonymously.
- Keep up with technology training: Keeping up with technology is critical to success at work. Giving older employees the opportunity to stay abreast of new technologies will go a long way toward keeping them engaged and productive. Training that focuses on improving computer proficiency will teach new skills and give confidence to employees who might otherwise think they are becoming too old for their jobs.
- Encourage new roles: Providing the opportunity to expand or even change roles within an institution is a great way to keep aging employees engaged and contributing to an organisation. Or the company could encourage and assist older employees in develop skills that will facilitate a future retirement career or new business venture to create income.