This afternoon, I stopped by the retirement celebration for an employee who's worked for this company for 29 years. In addition to all the well wishes (and cake) floating around the room, I also detected the occasional hint of well-intentioned jealousy. Let's face it -- even if we truly enjoy our jobs, most of us would happily take an early retirement for the chance to relax, travel and pursue other interests.
While the R-word is still too far away for me to even consider it, I'm well aware of the retirement challenges many Americans currently face. Today, retirement isn't always simple, and it doesn't always come with a gold watch. Some employees need to wait years longer than they'd planned to retire, while others retire only to return to work for either financial or personal reasons.
The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College is a rich resource for retirement-related research. According to 2009 Sloan Center findings, three-quarters of adults aged 50-64 reported that economic problems would make it more difficult for them to afford retirement.
"The recent economic crisis, combined with changes in life expectancy and cultural expectations, have caused a significant shift in retirement age, and thereby, in workforce demographics. Such a dramatic shift in the retirement age reflects the current flux in the workforce of the United States and could have a profound effect on a company’s hiring practices," reported the Sloan Center.
"To accommodate the various needs of all workforce groups and to ensure seamless employee transitions, employers must keep abreast of shifting population trends. Difficulties associated with employee turnover such as transfer of knowledge make it necessary for employers to remain as prepared as possible for workforce changes. Since many causes for employee turnover cannot be predicted, it is all the more important for employers to anticipate employee retirement."
The Sloan Center also compiles facts and findings about retirement, including:
>>68 percent of older workers cite keeping their health care coverage as a reason to delay retirement.*
>>86 percent of retirees who worked for pay in the previous year reported that they enjoyed working.**
>>92 percent of retirees who worked for pay in the previous year did so because they wanted to stay active.**
>>62 percent of retirees who worked in the last year reported a decrease in their savings or investments; 40 percent reporting the need to keep health insurance.**
>>41 percent of workers who retired earlier than they planned did so because of unexpected health problems; 19 percent did so because of loss of employment; and 37 percent of those who retired earlier than planned had sufficient financial resources to do so.***
>>58 percent of workers aged 60 and over said the primary reason for postponing retirement is financial.****
What about you -- when do you plan to retire, and how are you going to make it happen?
*2010 Towers Watson retirement attitudes survey / **2011 EBRI Retirement Confidence Survey / ***2011 Sun-America retirement re-set study / ****2010 Careerbuilder survey