Employers Can Help Employees Prepare for Retirement

Recently, I reconnected with several friends from college. We had a great time catching up. I was shocked to learn that some of them had already retired! I couldn’t believe it. I know I’m getting close to retirement age, but I’m not there yet. Not wanting to pry into others’ lives too much, I had to wonder why such early retirements. Many of us read about how the pandemic might have impacted the timing of planned retirements, sometimes causing people to leave the workforce before they intended. But I keep saying to myself, “I have many more working years ahead of me.” Of course, I don’t want to drop at my desk and have people say, “It feels like she worked here for a hundred years.” Although I’m not ready to retire yet, I’m like many others who are wondering if I will be able to retire any time soon. It’s a legitimate concern given the state of the economy.

Of course, you don’t have to wait until you are in your fifties or sixties to start thinking about where and how you’d like to retire. Not everyone wants to work until they are forced to quit. You’ve probably heard people say, “I want to retire early enough to enjoy the time off.” No matter where you are in your career journey, you can plan for your leisure days. This article suggests ten steps to help you prepare for retirement (whenever that might be). The idea is to start planning for the lifestyle you want and what you’ll need financially to get there.

Although preparing for retirement is an individual effort, there are some things that employers can do to make the transition easier for those employees who may be nearing retirement. Consider that many older employees often feel they have been kicked out of the library’s/organization’s planning process. They feel left in the dark when it comes to strategizing for the library’s future growth — forgotten, as though others are just waiting for them to go. Employers should also consider that employees often need much more than just a monetary reward. They also want to feel valuable to the library/organization and emotionally connected with their leaders.

What can employers do to help older workers prepare for retirement. There are several ways employers can assist these workers (that might also help younger staff).

Inclusion in Planning

Whenever possible, employers should be transparent and include staff in strategic planning. Alleviate uncertainty and the feeling of being in the dark about goals, expectations, and plans for the library’s future (and that of the employee). Older, more experienced employees can be invaluable in your planning process. 

Financial Education

The simplest thing an employer can do is provide financial literacy sessions. Perhaps you can have representatives from your retirement plan offer group educational sessions and one-on-one meetings to discuss retirement planning. You might invite someone from your local Social Security Administration office to come and discuss options for claiming benefits. 

Scheduling Flexibility

Employers can also offer flexibility, perhaps allowing them to work fewer hours while they continue to contribute in meaningful ways. Doing so might provide opportunities for these employees to experiment and discover other lifestyle options (i.e., volunteering, writing a great novel, spending time with grandchildren, etc.). Offering more flexibility would allow them to see what life could be like once they stop working or if they decide to pivot to do something else. They may discover a new purpose in life beyond their current jobs/careers.

Networking Opportunities

Employers might also design activities to allow older employees to connect with newer employees so that they can share their knowledge and expertise. However, you must be careful not to make the more senior employees feel like they are training a younger person so that you can get rid of them sooner.

Counseling Resources

Many people’s sense of “self” and identity is often tied to their jobs/careers. People can become depressed and not understand that their purpose in life is usually found in getting up every day and doing a specific job. Working with a counselor can help individuals make the transition to a different lifestyle more palatable — something to look forward to rather than dreading. A counselor can work with people to help them discover meaning in life in other ways beyond their jobs. You don’t have to wait until something is “wrong” to work with a counselor. Employers can be sure these services are available through their employee assistance programs (EAP).

A successful library or organization improves its employees’ lives and keeps things interesting through a positive work culture and caring about the well-being of all employees through whatever stage of life in which they may be. Employers can work with employees nearing retirement to ensure smooth transitions for both the library and the individuals.