Published on: July 30, 2010There are two interesting stories this morning that revolve around the subject of retirement, albeit from very different angles.
Story number one...
Not that long ago, the British Parliament voted to end the use of paper checks in the UK in September 2018 - a move that while not without some controversy, seemed to be that are thing - a governmental body actually acknowledging and dealing with a specific reality. (In this case, it was the fact that paper checks are used less frequently than ever while be increasingly inefficient. Banning them eight years hence seemed to be a good way to eliminate the inefficiency while giving the population plenty of time to adjust to the change.)
Well, maybe there’s something in the London water...because Parliament may be doing something smart yet again.
It is being reported this morning that the British government is considering the elimination of a rule that allows companies to impose a mandated retirement age of 65 without giving reasons or providing severance.
According to the New York Times, “the change is intended to help Britain reduce its pension burden as people live longer, and to allow people to keep working if they want to for financial or social reasons ... The proposed change received mixed reactions from charities, workers’ representatives and industry groups. Some applauded the proposed change as a leap forward against age discrimination and for greater freedom for older workers. Others said it would complicate long-term planning for employers and did not give companies enough time to prepare for the changes that would take effect in October 2011.”
Story number two...
New research conducted by Ipsos finds that in the US, younger adults, aged 25-34, are concerned about having enough money to see them through retirement. According to the statement by Ipsos, “With an expectation that they will be retired for 23 years on average, four in ten young adults (37%) think it is unlikely that they will even be able to cover basic monthly expenses throughout retirement. Additionally, just one quarter (26%) feels that they have enough information and resources to help them plan for retirement.”
What these two stories point to, I think, is a changing attitude toward retirement. They offer tacit acknowledgment that for a variety of reasons, many baby boomers are not prepared to go off into that good night. In some cases, it is because our retirement funds are not what they used to be. In others, it is because we still feel vibrant and useful and capable of great contributions. We want options, not mandates. We want second and third careers, not the assisted living facility. We want to be as independent in our so-called golden years as we have been in middle age. Why not? We assume it is our birthright.
Eliminating a mandatory retirement age - or raising the retirement age from 65 to 70, which is one of the things often discussed here in the US - are important steps in eliminating a kind of ageism. (The US problem, of course, is a little different. Raising the retirement age to 70 would take some pressure off the Social Security system. But it also would acknowledge a social reality - we’re living longer, and remain capable and active longer.) Changing our attitudes toward retirement also is important because it allows organizations - if they are smart - to take advantage of the institutional memories that exist in older employees.
Businesses with open and nurturing cultures will understand that older workers understand context, know what worked and what did not in the past, and know where all the bodies are buried. They can be a wonderful asset, and should not be seen as liabilities.
Of course, I probably am more passionate about this stuff now than I would have been in the past, since it recently occurred to me that I’m closer to my 60th birthday than my 50th. I don’t feel that way...and plan to keep on kickin’ until I drop.
I think a lot of boomers feel the same way.
That’s my Friday morning eye-opener.
- Kevin Coupe
- KC's View: