By Barb Ward from conversations with Kailey Bowser, Leadership Consultant, and Alex Cousins, Financial Planner

As leaders continue struggling to fill talent gaps in their organizations post-pandemic, the reality of 11,000 people per day reaching retirement age in 2024 looms. Employers are painfully aware that with every retiree who walks out their doors, years of valuable experience, knowledge, and connections go with them. As if that weren’t enough, the impact when leaders leave or retire extends far beyond this, disrupting the very fabric of the organization and its culture. Is there anything we can do to shift the tide?

The good news? Yes! According to the Harvard Business Report, more than 10 million Americans who are 65 or older are currently employed, with that number projected to rise to nearly 15 million by 2032. 

It turns out that today, many retirees have different thoughts about “retirement” than in the past. Increasingly, people of retirement age no longer desire to dedicate 100% of their lives to leisure, but would rather stay engaged and active, doing something productive in their communities and lives. Perhaps this is why people 65 or older now represent the fastest-growing segment of the labor force. If we can overcome ideas of ageism and embrace the possibilities that this large, experienced, and versatile labor pool brings to the table, the possibilities are seemingly endless.

With this knowledge comes a great responsibility as well. Responsibility to prepare our organizations for possible change, and responsibility to look at options and to take care of our employees of retirement age.

In our professional coaching engagements, we have helped leaders and staff get into alignment about what retirement means on an individual level and an organizational level. And every situation is unique. The following discusses possibilities we’ve discovered in our coaching engagements as well as advice we’ve gleaned from our conversation with Alex Cousins, a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones. 

If someone is considering retirement, what should they consider?

From an organizational perspective, leaders should consider possible options that could extend the tenure of the employee. “Having a conversation with the employee to find out their goals for their retirement, how they plan to stay engaged, and what they seek for fulfillment is a start,” says Kailey Bowser, Leadership Consultant for Innovative Connections. “Once you know these things, you can determine if there is room to offer a position with reduced hours or a flexible work schedule that allows the organization to retain the knowledge, experience, and leadership of this individual. Or, if this isn’t a good fit, is there time to pair the employee with their successor to share knowledge prior to their departure so not all of the valued leader’s assets are lost when they leave?” 

If you are an organization that is experiencing labor and talent shortfalls, you may want to revisit the talent that has retired or is getting set to retire from your organization. In fact, the Harvard Business Report offers five steps to stem the tide, here’s a snapshot:  Preserve experience, offer the opportunity to gradually enter into retirement by downshifting into a reduced responsibility position. Replenish experience, they know the organization and culture and can be brought up to speed rapidly. Share experience, passing knowledge and history to younger colleagues. Offer flexibility. Leverage age diversity, multigenerational workforces offer different cognitive skills and emotional intelligence—which combine to offer a wider range of perspectives and solutions.

From an individual lens, there are many things to consider as well. “Thanks to greater longevity, retirement today isn’t a destination but a new journey. As individuals approach the last decade of their career, they may begin to develop a holistic framework with four interconnected pillars for living well in retirement: health, family, purpose, and finances,” says Alex Cousins, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones. “Many focus on the financials but forget to emphasize shaping a new identity. Take time to reflect and consider things like, ‘How do I want to change my lifestyle in retirement? What income will be needed to support that lifestyle? Do my partner and I need to reconcile any differences in our plans, preferences, and timing for retirement?’” 

The answers to these questions will help you decide if full retirement is an option for you, or if you will be more fulfilled and financially viable if you retain a part-time position or find employment doing something you’ve always wanted to try.

What do organizations commonly miss when planning for the retirement of a leader?

“Often, organizations are very adept at the interviewing and hiring of a person to fill the role that retiree is leaving, but they fail to recognize the culture shift that will happen when the person actually is gone from the organization,” says Kailey. “Many times, over-communicating and planning as far in advance of the departure as possible, the more smoothly the transition will go.”

What do people at retirement age commonly miss when planning?

“It’s easy to think of retirement as simply “before and after.” However, it is important to understand that retirement happens in stages. Many plan for the honeymoon stage with more travel, dining, and family visits. But as the excitement of freedom shifts to a reinvention stage, they may run into big milestones like downsizing their home, caring for elder parents, or moving closer to family,” says Alex. “Then, if health declines, they may become more reflective and begin preparing the legacy and lessons they want to leave behind. The resources and energy needed in each stage vary and often retirees cannot quantify how things like caregiving and their own long-term care may impact their financial legacy.”

If someone is of retirement age, but thinking about working part-time, what should they be aware of?

“If you are interested in staying at the organization in a reduced capacity, you should talk to your supervisors about options, “ says Kailey. “Hybrid environments and technology have made it easier for employers to be more flexible, and now more than ever, they are interested in retaining good talent, so it could be a perfect time to float an idea that will keep both you and your employer happy!” 

Alex agrees from the individual’s perspective, “Boosting income with a part-time job could work wonders for their finances, especially at a time when inflation is high. Every year they work improves their earning history which can increase the amount of Social Security they receive. Part-time earnings may also allow you to delay taking Social Security benefits which increase by 8% every year past your full retirement age, up to age 70.”

She adds, “However if you’ve already begun taking Social Security, the extra income may adversely affect your benefit and existing tax strategies. Most importantly, be aware that part-time work can easily morph into full-time work, especially if you’re prone to workaholism. Be true to what will enhance your ideal retirement lifestyle.”

If you could recommend one book, podcast, or article for people who are considering retiring, what would it be?

Alex: How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free: Retirement Wisdom That You Won’t Get from Your Financial Advisor

A professional coach can provide invaluable assistance with retirement planning in several ways:

Clarifying Goals and Priorities: A coach can help individuals clarify their retirement goals and priorities. This may involve discussions about lifestyle preferences, financial aspirations, desired retirement age, and personal fulfillment in retirement.

Assessing Financial Readiness: Retirement planning often revolves around financial preparedness. A coach can assess an individual’s current financial situation, including savings, investments, debts, and retirement accounts. Based on this assessment, they can develop strategies to maximize savings, optimize investments, and manage debt to ensure a comfortable retirement.

Creating a Comprehensive Retirement Plan: With a clear understanding of an individual’s goals and financial situation, a coach can help create a comprehensive retirement plan. This plan may include strategies for maximizing retirement account contributions, estimating retirement income needs, creating a withdrawal strategy, and optimizing Social Security benefits.

Addressing Concerns and Challenges: Retirement planning can be daunting, and individuals may have concerns or face challenges along the way. A coach provides a supportive environment to address these concerns and challenges, whether they relate to financial uncertainty, healthcare costs, lifestyle adjustments, or emotional readiness for retirement.

Providing Education and Resources: A coach can educate individuals about various retirement-related topics, such as investment options, tax implications, Medicare, long-term care insurance, and estate planning. They can also provide access to resources, tools, and information to empower individuals to make informed decisions about their retirement.

Offering Emotional Support and Transition Guidance: Retirement is not just a financial event; it’s also a significant life transition that can evoke a range of emotions. A coach can offer emotional support, guidance, and encouragement throughout the retirement planning process, helping individuals navigate the psychological aspects of retirement, such as adjusting to a new routine, finding purpose, and maintaining social connections.

Continued Support in Retirement: Some coaches offer ongoing support beyond retirement planning to help individuals transition smoothly into retirement. This may include check-ins, coaching sessions, or workshops focused on adjusting to retirement life, setting new goals, staying active and engaged, and managing the challenges that may arise.

Overall, a professional coach can empower employees to take control of their retirement planning, make informed decisions, and approach retirement with confidence and peace of mind. By providing personalized guidance and support, coaches can help individuals navigate the complexities of retirement and achieve their desired retirement lifestyle.

Want to learn more?
Whether you are an organization trying to plan for an influx of retirees, or you are an individual needing to get clear about your retirement goals, we can help. Innovative Connections takes pride in matching coaches and coachees based on specific skill sets, needs, and personalities to make the partnership successful. Contact us for a free consultation or call us at 970-279-3330.

Our mission is to give voice and action to an emerging future. As a partner in your success, we would love to come alongside you to help you find your voice, see your vision, and imagine what the right action could be for you, your team, and your organization.