Encourage retirees to remain in the workforce

Article by Ben Johnston courtesy of Nest Egg.



In the next few decades, billions of dollars in human intellectual capital is about to be wasted away.

From an early age, our society expounds we should “respect our elders” and encourages the notion of “experience being invaluable”.

Given our ageing population, over the next few decades Australia is set to lose billions of dollars’ worth of human intellectual capital as well as priceless wisdom that collectively diminishes from the workplace once workers vanish into the oblivion of retirement.

Sure, everyone is different. Some people crave the idea of hitting their preservation age, blissfully unaccountable to employers and the mundane of working a five-day week as they have done for the last 50 years – dreaming of unlimited time to golf, surf and travel.

Not everyone seeks a commitmentfree existence and many people reaching retirement are in fact becoming concerned about what life will look like once they retire, and what will be their purpose? How will they spend their days? And increasingly of concern is how will they fund the next stage of their life if they don’t have enough superannuation, or the pension is inadequate to sustain the lifestyle they have become accustomed too? One of the most inspiring clients I have come across, who is now 90, changed the way I view retirement and my mindset of what retirement may look like. She was married at a young age and like many post-war wives, lived a subservient life to a demanding husband. She wasn’t allowed to have a job and was bound to perform home duties. It wasn’t until she hit the age of 67, she put her foot down and lived the life she wanted. She travelled the world but enrolled and completed a bachelor’s degree at university.

She believed her knowledge and education wasn’t any less relevant or important than what you learn as a 20- year-old.

Her take on this dramatically changed the way I think about how I want to approach my retirement years, being that I want to keep studying, and I want to keep gaining knowledge and keep contributing to society in a productive and meaningful way.

I hope our government and employers begin to acknowledge many current retirees, and people imminently about to retire, not only have so much to give through decades of invaluable experience, but they also have a willingness and desire to remain productive.

Especially now, in the new age world of technology-impacted workplaces, many elder workers are at risk of feeling they are not up to the adaptation of a digitised workplace, and sadly, employers seemingly have driven these feelings through the desire to employ “smarter” and more “innovative” younger employees.

To me, this is such a disaster, whether it be in finance, marketing, trades, communication, you name it, the experience workers with decades of knowledge cannot, and should not, be superseded and lost.

For those retirees that wish to remain productive and continue working, society should welcome them with open arms, employers should open up casual or part-time roles to encourage retirees to stay or return to work and introduce initiatives around mentorships.

TAFE’s and universities should engage these retirees to share their priceless knowledge with the next generation. Technology is only going to become more and more relevant in the workplace, but the fundamentals of industry will remain, and these “mentors” can pass down priceless industry experience that can only be learned by working in the field for decades.

Overall, we as a society need to change our view of retirement so those people who want to keep working to earn money to supplement their pension or superannuation are able to do so.

Those who are willing and able to contribute in their industry should be encouraged to do so, not out of pity, but out of a desire to extract the rich knowledge that would otherwise be lost to society.

Ben Johnston is managing director of Johnston Advisory

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