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A New Career Pathway for Potential Retirees

Are you struggling with “retirement procrastination”?

  • Do you fear the unfamiliar territory beyond your well-worn desk, family photos and your slightly neglected philodendron?
  • Do you feel there is still more you could do, but don’t know what that is?
  • Do you feel a little guilty that this decision has you stuck in the mud…not knowing where to turn?
Take the time to plan for your child's future.

If you have reached the age of 50 or beyond, you are one of tens of thousands of both public and private sector workers considering retirement.  You wander around thinking, thinking and thinking, but not taking the big step to actually retire.  Why?  Because of fear, fear of leaving your co-workers, your “second home” and the comfort of the job you have mastered.  Let’s face it; you dread telling your boss and trying to explain your plans for your future at the next potluck.  Couple that fear with your declining investment portfolio, the shrinking job market, the soaring costs of health care coverage and it is easy to see why procrastination is in full play.

But what are you doing about your dream of putting your personal life in perspective?  It’s probably been on the back burner for years.  The need to rebuild family relationships, to enjoy a relaxing vacation getaway, to play some golf, to actually begin an exercise program, or just to have the time to read a book or see a movie; these needs are still on your mental “to-do” list.  Unfortunately, you continue in your job week after week, putting off that retirement decision.  Resentment may build in.  You think about retirement several times a day but don’t take any action towards actually doing it.

Somehow, I think many of us are secretly waiting for “someone” to tell us “it’s okay, you can retire now!”   Who is that person?  Please tell me.  I want to know.  Is it my wife, my boss, my best friend?  So who is it?  It obviously can’t be me or I would have already made that decision.

Are you in this dilemma?  Do you know someone who is?  Is there any way out of this situation?  For many, it must seem like being caught in the movie “Ground Hog Day”, re-living the same day (and same indecision) over and over again.

Is there an answer that would help ease one into the much desired retirement arena and reduce a whole lot of the current anxiety?  YES!   Or at least, maybe…

Here goes.  Does your employer have a “Returned Retiree” program whereby one can retire and then be hired back in a temporary capacity working part time?  Check it out.  Almost all government agencies have this kind of plan on the books.  A few forward thinking private sector employees have a modified version available.  This kind of workforce innovation is sure to be a part of the new vision for savvy employers.

Unfortunately, at the present, most employers are not effectively tapping into the very talent before them.  Yes, that talent is YOU!  The fact that you have not retired is in part because of your incredible loyalty and commitment to your organization. And the fact is, you really like many parts of your job (you just don’t want to do the 50-60+ hours a week anymore).  So it is understandable that you are feeling uncomfortable about leaving those aspects of your job that still have a certain “kick” for you.  But an underlying bitterness may be also setting in about giving your organization all that extra time and energy over many years as your dream to retire seems to always be moved out another year or two.  A compounding issue may be that no one has really given you recognition for your many contributions.  Well, get over that part because it comes with the territory.

So tomorrow, go and talk to your supervisor about the organization’s “Returned Retiree” program and about what you really want to do.  It’s just possible that your boss has many of the same concerns, wants and needs as you.  Unfortunately, without this kind of discussion, many employees eventually retire, thinking (and hoping) that someone in the organization will call them up to have this kind of discussion--post retirement.  As logical as that may seem, the employer (who frequently complains that they can’t find experienced help for many work situations) doesn’t trip to the fact that you would be available and interested in returning to the workplace on a temporary basis to help meet these needs. 

Fast-forward six months in the situation where the retired employee is not called back to work as a retired annuitant and you will find the retiree now losing interest and enthusiasm for working again for this organization.  Without hope of being called, the retiree will most likely begin searching for part time employment in another organization.  What a loss!

What is needed is a whole new approach to the old Returned Retiree program.  The current program is typically passive.  Few people know about it and fewer yet actually use it. 

So how can we build a better mousetrap? We could start with one that would trap the skills and interests of retiring employees in a data bank.  Departments seeking to fill their short term staffing or project needs could actively use this data bank.  The new approach would be focused on valuing career employees who have contributed 25-30 years to the organization and have all the necessary background to meet the part time job requirement.  Hiring retirees through the Returned Retiree program would eliminate the start up time and cost of an outside temporary employee and taps directly into the existing knowledge and interests of the retiree.  This is clearly a Win-Win arrangement!

So, what are you waiting for?  Get this type of program going in your organization, and perhaps you can even become the manager of this new program.  If you would like additional information or ideas about revamping your Returned Retiree program, please contact me for assistance.  We are developing the software to support this new program and have answers to many of the questions that will come up.  The best thing about this new approach to the Returned Retiree program is that all current employees in the workplace can eventually benefit from these efforts when they ultimately make their retirement decision.  A fully functional Returned Retiree program is absolutely the right answer to one of the most pressing workforce planning issues facing organizations.

Good luck, and if you need someone to tell you it’s okay to retire, look in the mirror.  

© Helen Scully. All Rights Reserved. For more information visit

 Helen Scully
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