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Working Past 65: Baby Boomers Are Leading A New Revolution

Retirement age doesn’t mean not working past 65 for millions of Americans.

Working past 65 is real.

That’s right, the days of our parents and grandparents retirement is a thing of the past—work 40-plus years at the same company, retire at 62, get a gold watch at a farewell party and spend the rest of your days fishing, traveling or spending time with grandchildren.

Baby boomers are not only reinventing retirement, but they’re revolutionizing it, says Catherine Collinson, president of Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. They’re working past 65 and even working in retirement, she says.

“Most baby boomers envision a phased transition before fully retiring and frankly our nomenclature—the word retirement hasn’t caught up with the times,” Collinson says. “We still think of retirement as a point in time in which we stop working all together whereas now retirement may be working for an employer for 20 to 30 years and retiring and starting a consulting business or working at a different company or becoming a silver entrepreneur.”

A Transamerica Center survey shows that 65 percent of baby boomers plan to work past 65 and or do not plan to retire, Collinson says. A little more than half of baby boomers plan to work in some fashion in retirement, and of those 10 percent say it will be full time and 42 percent say it will be part time, she says.

“One of the things that baby boomers are doing is demonstrating to the world, themselves and employers that retirement and working is not a mutually exclusive proposition,” Collinson says. “Baby Boomers were born to be wild and their retirement promises to be even wilder. They’re forging a new model of retirement that is a radical departure from that of previous generations,”

Here is the survey:

The baby boomer generation can’t afford to act like their parents or grandparents because many are expected to live well into their 80s or 90s and even past 100, she says. They’re not going to accept a gold watch and go sit on the couch, she says. Two-thirds say they will do so for income and benefits and the other third say it will be for enjoyment, she says.

“If we think of a working career lasting to 40 to 45 years, it is difficult to envision working 40 years to finance a 25 to 40 year retirement,” Collinson says. “There is a natural need through increased longevity to work longer and retire later in terms of building up savings and future retirement income. The other big question is the need to stay active and involved and 65 is not old, and we all need a sense of purpose whether it’s for pay or betterment of humanity or a combination of the two. As a society we can’t afford to shut down at 65 for the next 30 years.”

The employment landscape, however, isn’t set up to accommodate that yet, Collinson says. Few employers have programs or business practices in place for this phased transition into retirement and even fewer baby boomers believe their employers have practices in place to accommodate them, she says.

Only 48 percent of employers have practices in place to enable shifting from full-time to part-time and even fewer (37 percent) allow taking on new positions that are less stressful or demanding, Collinson says. What makes it amplified is that only 21 percent of baby boomers believe their employer will enable them to shift to part-time and only 12 percent say their employer will enable them to take positions which are less stressful or demanding, she says.

What’s going to happen is the big question, Collinson says there is a need to raise awareness among both baby boomers and employers of the issue. Baby boomers also need to do a reality check of what they’re going to be able to accomplish at their current employer or whether they’re going to need to seek alternative scenarios or employment.

“I expect accommodation, and I believe we will see a range of outcomes,” Collinson says. “Baby boomers are the right generation to be doing this because they have broken all of the molds since they entered the workforce. We will see some employers adopting and some employers who are slow to adopt. Eventually, I am hopeful most will adopt. We can expect innovation and surprises.”

Collinson says entrepreneurship will be more prevalent because of technology. There are many tools and resources available to baby boomers that previous generations hadn’t had and will create new opportunities if they have the imagination and practicality to pursue them, she says.

In terms of starting a business, the barriers to entry are far lower than we have ever seen in our lifetime and over the last 20 years, Collinson says. The Internet has made legal resources like Legal Zoom available. Media marketing helps people learn how to build a business and reach an audience at a fraction of what it would cost 20 years ago, she says.

“The key is finding viable and profitable return on investment opportunities, and something that is sustainable,” Collinson says.

The last group of baby boomers turned 50 in 2014, but the following generations will follow the same path and not return to what our parents and grandparents did, Collinson says.

“They share the exact same vision for retirement,” she says. “This isn’t a one and done where baby boomers retire, and we go back to the same way.”

Baby boomers, meanwhile, need to be ready for this new retirement, and many aren’t Collinson says.

Working past 65 requires people to understand their ability to do so. Only two-thirds say staying healthy for continuing to work is a focus, but it needs to be closer to 100 percent, Collinson says.

Just over half say they are performing well at their current job, but if those people want to continue working the best way to ensure that is to be a superstar employee, she says.

“They are much more likely to say yes to a high-performing employee than one who is not,” she says.

Older workers are quite enthusiastic.

Only 41 percent say they are keeping their skills up to date, 16 percent say they are networking and 5 percent are going back to school to learn new skills.

Of those six steps, 92 percent of baby boomers are doing at least one and 52 percent are doing two, Collinson says. Only 1 percent are doing all six steps.

“Many are taking the first step, but there’s a whole lot more they can be doing,” Collinson says. “You need two or three or more of these six steps to ensure success.”

Many need a backup plan because baby boomers could be forced into retirement sooner than expected because of job loss or family issues. That also means people need to be more aware of their options of Social Security and Medicare, she says.

Here’s a story on working longer that is worth reading.

What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments below.


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