In our new economy, many employees are rethinking retirement due to limited raises, drops in healthcare coverage, and wavering pensions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the labor force participation rate of workers 55 and up will continue to grow reaching 43 percent by 2018 and 22 percent for those 65 and over.
Additionally, The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College follows continued trends of older workers staying employed or re-entering the workforce even after retirement. Is it all financially driven? Not necessarily. For many, now that we’re living longer, we simply want to contribute longer. So for those rethinking retirement, consider the following strategies to stay in the game and in demand.
Polish your skills
It’s a slippery slope from fear to failure, so don’t let your discomfort with new technology send you packing. Social media, smart phones and Skype are here to stay, so time has come to get “techy.” In fact, learning something new is the best way to keep the brain sharp and honed for increased functioning. But with the trend for strategic cutbacks, don’t always rely on your employer to provide skill-based training. Take the initiative by attending seminars, workshops, conferences or by investing off the job time to polish your skill set through continued education. AARP Worksearch Foundation provides resources for people over 50 and older looking for work and for additional skill development training.
Embrace a multi-generational workforce
What a better way to stay current on technological trends then to buddy with the generation born online. Making an effort to understand and embrace younger generations is not only a great way to learn from their expertise but to demonstrate you’re a team player. Trainings abound on navigating generational distinctions in an effort to help professionals collaborate effectively. Be willing to considering new approaches and priorities from younger counterparts and recognize that seniority doesn’t always equal superiority. When in doubt about lingo or logistics don’t be afraid to ask questions. After all, they’re just as curious about you.
Take advantage of resources
Staying healthy and well-informed is that much easier when you take advantage of organizational resources. Most companies offer benefits including heath tests, wellness coaching, financial planning and fitness classes are free or low cost. Get up and actively pursue these perks while you’re working and beyond by taking steps now to establish a strategy for retirement. For instance, many of my clients on the exit track work with me to develop a retirement plan that includes a benefits analysis, wellness plan and an encore career development strategy. I highly recommend any employee over the age of 50 to start working on all of these facets and routinely tweak them as you get closer to leaving. The transition to a new job, retirement or even an encore career is easier and less daunting when you’re healthy and fit and have a plan for your future in place.
Avoid mentally checking out by staying in the game and you’ll see the mutually beneficial rewards of making a contribution. Mentoring younger co-workers is a great way to give and gain as older workers Savvy organizations that recognize that a lack of certain skills in younger workers can be found in their older counterparts and encourage this cross-generational imparting of wisdom. Additional ways to stay engaged might include spearheading “bucket list” projects that sometimes take flight easier when you’re affiliated with a company. Key-note speaking, formulating philanthropic partnerships, starting a foundation or even leading formalized training programs are embraced and sponsored by organizations. But probably the best way to stay engaged is to interact with others by joining groups or attending work-sponsored activities. Yes, who you know and who knows you helps keep you in demand, but more importantly having a continual sense of community is imperative for optimal well-being.
Kim Monaghan, PCC is a career coach, syndicated career columnist, resume writer and personal branding strategist who helps her clients cultivate career happiness www.KBMCoaching.com.