How to support staff who are approaching their retirement
Retirement is something that everyone who works needs to think about – and it can be a really big deal. As a company, you always want to do what’s best for your staff, and this continues to be true as they move towards retirement. Ultimately, you need to be doing everything you can to support staff through this period.
Whether it is thinking about how they are going to support themselves financially, to providing alternative options than simply leaving work entirely – there are many things that companies can do.
The transition to retirement can certainly be a challenging period for some. In this article we’ll take a look at what your business can do to support those members of your team who are looking towards retirement sooner rather than later.
Be open minded and gentle
For some people, retirement is a goal that they have been waiting for and that they can’t wait. But this isn’t the case for everyone. For many older workers, their job is a huge part of their identity, and this may have been the case for a great many years. Coming up to retirement age could be a stressful time and they might be put off thinking about it or trying to avoid it altogether!
As such, it is important to go about the process of preparing a member of staff for retirement by moving carefully and gently. It could be a good idea to book an informal meeting to have a quick chat about the situation to see if they have any thoughts yet on what they might like to do when they reach retirement age.
Remember, as many as 47% of workers admit that they don’t know how to plan for retirement. It is clear that companies need to do more to help.
All in all you need to allow them to take the lead and be open-minded about what they have to say about their retirement. Some may want to continue working for as long as possible, while others might prefer a staggered retirement.
Perhaps one of the most crucial questions around retirement is the issue of money. Going from full-time work to a life that is sustained by your pension is a big change for almost everyone. It is important to understand the financial implications of leaving work. The best way that you can help workers with this is by providing them with financial advice, and doing this as early as possible.
“Everyone has a different idea of the ideal retirement and so will have different spending needs. Looking at your current outgoings is a good place to start,” says Adam Reeves of Reeves Financial. “Calculate how much you spend each month on paying down debts, paying bills, essential spending and non-essential spending.
“Then, consider what might increase or decrease over your retirement. For example, you may be reaching the end of your mortgage, which will mean your debt payments go down. But you might plan to take up a new hobby, which will mean your non-essential spending goes up.”
Consider your company culture
It is worth considering whether your company currently adopts a positive outlook towards retirement. Being recognised as a company who actively supports staff as they reach retirement age is an attractive position to have as it can increase staff retention figures and attract new talent. Employees need to feel that they are going to be supported, especially if they are already feeling vulnerable and concerned about retirement. Remember that being retirement-positive not only helps the staff, it can also provide your business with better long-term planning, and allow you to consider how you are going to replace the skills.
Some of the taboo around retirement also comes from the fact that staff feel surprised when it is announced that a member of the team is leaving out of nowhere – especially one that has been with the company for so long.
Be as flexible as possible
Sometimes businesses take an approach to retirement that is simply binary; there is a day that the employee goes from being a full-time member of the team, to the next day when they are retired and no longer part of the company. This way of looking at retirement actually comes with a lot of drawbacks, not only for the business and the member of staff retiring, but also everyone else at the company.
There is good evidence, for example, to show that the majority of people heading into retirement prefer the idea of a staggered retirement. It could be sensible to offer those who reach retirement age the chance to cut their hours down to just part time. This way, you are still getting the benefit of their experience and knowledge through the transition period. This also takes the pressure off when it comes to recruitment; they are still around to help train up the person who is going to be replacing them.
Ultimately, perhaps it makes most sense to say that the best way to help staff is to be flexible and try to work around what is best for them. You will almost certainly find that this is what will be best for the business too.
Involve them at every stage
There is nothing that someone coming up to retirement will like less than simply having their future prescribed to them. It is a much better idea to actually involve them throughout the process. It is their future that is being discussed, after all, so why not include them in any meetings about what to do about their upcoming retirement.
Insight For Professionals advises: “One of the most useful things a manager can do is simply give the employee the opportunity to talk about retirement, if they’re willing to do so. During an appraisal or one-to-one catch-up, you could bring up the subject and ask them if they’ve given it any thought.”
Recognise the achievements of staff coming up to retirement
One important issue that sometimes gets overlooked as a member of staff comes up to retirement is that this is an opportunity for recognition. It is a great idea to bring the team together and showcase the achievements from the retiring member of staff. This can help them to feel more positive about their career, and provide the right mindset to move forward.
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