How Long Do You Want To Work? At What Age Do You Want To Retire?

Four in ten respondents in a CIPD survey plan to work beyond the age of 65.  65 is currently the default retirement age (DRA), due to be abolished in October next year.  However, the responses of the age-diverse sample of 2000 people bear further scrutiny.  

Of respondents aged 55+, the number saying they plan to work beyond 65 rises to six in ten, whereas for the 18-24 age group the figure is 29%.  Whilst the figures may not surprise some, I found 29% to be higher than I’d have expected, and wonder if younger workers who plan on working past 65 find the whole concept of a set age to retire (or indeed a fixed age to do anything) a bit strange, even pointless.

On the other hand I’m not surprised at the 55+ age group: the older workers get, the more concerned they are about whether their pension pot is up to the task.  The reasons given for planning to work beyond 65 are primarily financial (72%, with more women than men checking this reason).  Yet other factors were also cited:  47% want to ‘continue using my skills and experience’, 42% want ‘social interaction’ and 35% want to work beyond 65 for reasons of self-esteem.  Another option, that of working beyond 65 to minimise time spent with my partner/children, was only checked by 2% of respondents, which might confound some stereotypical views in some quarters, but appears to be good news for close relationships.

Given the impending phasing out of the DRA, respondents were asked on what basis decisions about continued employment of older workers should be made.  Health was cited by 64%, which isn’t surprising.  Personal performance was a close second at 62%.  So if older workers aren’t up to the job, for health or performance reasons, their continued employment will need to be considered, and decisions reached.

What will this mean in practice?  The demand for flexible working practices will extend, and employers who get this will be able to have the pick of talent.  I can also see ‘managing poor performance in older workers’ figuring in performance management training workshops.  In some sectors, it’s already happening, particularly where there’s a very age-positive hiring policy.  Try this exercise: visualise yourself giving performance feedback to someone 10, 20, 30 or so years older than you.  What will you say?  How will they respond?   Now reverse it: imagine as vividly as you can being given performance feedback by someone much younger than you.  How do you feel?  What are you thinking?  How will you respond?  Welcome to the 2012 and beyond workplace.

Can you see yourself working at 65, 70, 80?  What will you be doing?  What will your workplace be like?  Do you want to retire, and if so at what age?

For more on the CIPD’s research and viewpoint, click here.

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