7 Reasons HR Needs to Learn About Unretirement

Years ago, people just retired. They announced to their boss that they were going to retire. The company threw them a party, gave them a gold watch, and wished them well. Then, they spent their time traveling, working on their hobbies, etc. I don’t know that those days exist anymore. And if they do, it’s only for a small handful of people.

There’s an emerging conversation about unretirement. It’s the idea that you don’t have to retire. You can work on the things you want and do more of the things you enjoy. And it’s not necessarily age-based. Professionals of all ages are planning for it. Human resources needs to take note of this trend. It’s one that could benefit HR and organizations in many ways.

  1. Recruiting: Having a contingent workforce is a must. Unretirement provides organizations will access to labor. These are individuals who don’t want to work full-time but do find occasional work a nice option. They are also someone the organization knows. So, you understand their strengths and weaknesses.
  1. Employee Referrals: Freelancers and contractors can be a source of employee (and customer) referrals. It wouldn’t take much to revise the employee referral program to include non-employees. Referrals are still the best quality and lowest cost per hire.
  1. Employee Engagement: While people do work to support themselves, they also work for the sense of fulfillment. In fact, many workers are staying in the workplace longer because they simply like working.
  1. Knowledge Management: Retaining workers, even in a part-time or contingent status, allows the organization to retain knowledge. Organizational history, information about processes, and background about key clients is essential to the business.
  1. Learning and Development: Speaking of knowledge management, organizations might find it beneficial to create short peer based training programs as a way to pass along skills and knowledge. If an employee announces their “retirement”, see if they’re willing to stop by once a month to be a lunch and learn speaker.
  1. Performance Management: Another way that “retiring” employees can help the organization is by being a mentor or coach. Again, doesn’t need to be full-time work. Maybe they stop by once or twice a month. They have BOTH knowledge of the organization and they’re an outsider. Just be sure to give them the training to be an excellent coach and mentor.
  1. Replacement and Succession Planning: Pew Research says that 10,000 people each day turn retirement age. For organizations concerned about a large number of employees leaving the workforce, allowing employees to openly discuss an exit strategy could be advantageous.

It’s time for organizations to have a discussion about retirement – what it is and isn’t. And how unretirement fits into the picture. I’m so convinced that unretirement is a trend that will be taking off in the near future that I’ve started another blog dedicated to the topic. It’s called “The Unretirement Project”. Mr. Bartender and I will be sharing our perspective and journey toward unretirement. I hope you’ll check it out and subscribe.

Unretirement has the ability to help organizations find and retain great talent. It has the potential to keep workers engaged and excited about their contributions. Unretirement can help organizations and individuals prosper.