In the 2015 film ‘The Intern,’ 70-year-old Ben Whittaker, played by Robert De Niro, gets hired as a senior intern in an e-commerce fashion startup helmed by Jules Ostin (Anne Hathaway).
The film is about how Ben proves to be an important and efficient employee, even teaching the young founder a few lessons in business as well as life. The film’s tagline rightly said, ‘Experience never gets old.’
The film coincidentally just reaffirmed the trend of seniors returning to work that has been on the rise for a while now. According to research by King’s College London, ‘around one in four retirees in the UK return to work’ within just five years of retirement.
The phenomenon of retirees joining workforce termed as ‘unretirement,’ is now getting popular with companies, big and small. And why not? After all, what this workforce brings to the table is something that the job sector cannot afford to miss.
Why Is ‘Un’Retirement Becoming So Popular?
There could be many reasons behind a retiree getting back to work, from financial to social to lifestyle. Some of the main reasons found by various studies are:
Pending loans seem to a problem for many retirees. So, it comes as no surprise that many retired people return to jobs for the steady income it offers. Again, it depends from person to person, as it is not about money for many.
2. Better Health, Better Opportunities:
People are healthier now and with a longer lifespan. Also, the work environment has changed drastically, and there are more opportunities now than before. People would like to explore the trend which is another reason that tempts them to go back to work. Some may look for any other career option than what they had worked in before. For example, a bank clerk may opt for a teaching career or a hospital nurse may look for a second career as a caregiver.
A finding by RAND Corporation’s American Working Survey points out that more than half of the retirees they spoke to expressed their desire to work if the right opportunity came along. The survey also found that around 39 percent of people above 65 have found jobs.
3. Filling A Void:
There are times, people feel a vacuum in their life post-retirement, now that there is nothing much to keep them occupied. The sense of loneliness and the need to spend their time more constructively also are the reasons that make them want to join the workforce once again. Going back to work allows social engagement which makes them feel less lonely. There are also those who look for intellectual stimulation.
Why The HR Needs To Start Taking The ‘Un’Retirement Trend Seriously…
Gone are the days when a person retired and never appeared before you again. Today, as the concept of unretirement is catching up in many countries and benefiting the work sector in many ways, HR cannot afford to neglect the idea.
The returning senior workforce can mean several advantages to human resources:
1. Access To Experienced Talent:
Instead of finding new people and then spending money and time to train them, HR can tap into the pool of retirees willing to work. Also, many may be ready to work occasionally or part-time, so, at times, when you face an emergency and need a workforce, they can come in handy.
2. Knowledge Retention:
When you consider retirees to work again, you can gain from the huge knowledge base they bring to the organization. It could be anything from, client issues to the vision of the company. It could be a huge plus.
3. Transfer Of Knowledge:
HR departments can also look for retirees who are willing to work once or twice a month to be a mentor or a trainer for fresh employees. They know about the company, the challenges as well as the solutions.
How Organisations Benefit From ‘Un’Retirement…
Unretirement serves well for all – the employees, the economy of the country and also for employers. The economy post-recession is trying at all levels for rejuvenation, but at the same time, many sectors are finding it difficult to get skilled and experienced workers. This gap can be hard to fill, but with the option of hiring back retirees, industries can look forward to workers with experience.
1. Retirees Make For ‘Ideal’ Employees:
It is a fact that older employees are more reliable and more loyal than young workers. They are also more punctual, and they come with strong work ethics. Another benefit is that, with their rich experience, they are better at handling problems and they can also be the best when it comes to representing the company.
2. Companies Can Tap Into This ‘Booming’ Segment:
For marketing and manufacturing companies, having seniors in their team can be a game-changer as they can have ideas on not just general products for all ages, but also for specific products that will entice older consumers.
For example, Benjamin Franklin is said to have invented the bifocals when he was 78 because he needed them for his use.
3. They Can Help Cut Costs:
In urgent situations when your company needs skilled workers or experienced managers, hiring retirees will mean you do not have to spend money on training new employees and waste precious time waiting for them to get a hold on the job.
According to a 2014 paper ‘Use of Retirees and Staff Beyond the Mandatory Age of Separation at United Nations Organizations,’ UN has hired at least 71 percent of retirees in its organizations.
The study finds a number of reasons for the retention of retirees including experience, specialized skills, knowledge of the organization, easier to recruit, availability at short notice and being cost-effective.
As the concept of unretirement catches up fast and wide, it is time organizations looked at it as an opportunity and take the necessary steps to tap into the potential. Companies can devise varied roles, add to their diversity and at the same time, have a contingency of workers they can turn to when and as needed. It is a win-win situation for all.