by Peter Burki
If your organization helps older employees plan for their retirement, you've probably been asking them how they're set financially for their golden years.
That's the wrong question.
What you might ask instead is: What do you want to do with the next one-third of your life?
Getting ready for retirement doesn't mean the same thing to today's 60- or 70-something employee as it did to their parents. Chances are, your oldest employees are still healthy and have ambitions for the rest of their lives. And chances are, they will live longer than their parents did—and they know it. So, they could be considering how to turn their passions into something more than a pastime after age 65.
For many of your employees, that could translate into a desire to continue working past the traditional retirement age, at least part time or sometimes. If that's the case, wouldn't you like them to work for you?
Almost half of American workers are at least 40 years old. And it's well documented that there aren't enough young people to fill all of their jobs if older workers rush to retire at age 65.
Help plan post-retirement life
So don't limit your retirement-planning assistance to a study of employees' finances.
Instead, offer a true benefit: Help your employees identify what they want to do for the rest of their lives, what gives them energy, where their passions lie and where they want to live. Ask them if they want to do volunteer work, travel the world or continue working.
Yes, you should help them figure out how to pay for it all. But put the horse before the cart. First help your employees identify the kind of lifestyle they are looking forward to once retirement age draws near. Then give them the tools to save for it.
I like to call this "rewirement" instead of "retirement."
It's a process that helps some employees discover that they really do want to continue working either full time or part time. Others learn that they want to work, but not at the same job.
For someone who wants to stay, your organization can plan ahead to fashion a job with hours and duties that fit the employee's vision for what could be 30 or more golden years.
And it's not something just for older workers.
If an organization helps employees in their 40s create such a vision, those workers are likely to save more money and have a better attitude about work because they know their jobs will help them turn that vision into reality.
Peter Burki is CEO of LifeCare (www.lifecare.com), anfirm in Connecticut. Contact him at (203) 291-4196.