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August 06, 2014

What Older Adults Want in the Workplace

We previously wrote about how boomers are reinventing retirement but there was one factor we didn’t mention: later retirement. Older adults are reinventing retirement by choosing to continue working longer, effectively pushing back their retirement until a later age. It might seem like this is a response to a poor economy or undesirable financial position, but the reasons older adults are choosing to continue working aren’t always monetary.

So why are older adults working longer? And what is it that they want from their jobs? Let’s investigate.

  • Meaningful work relationships: Laborious or not, work is still often a social activity. The quality relationships older adults have with their co-workers and superiors are high motivators for remaining in the workplace longer.
  • Opportunities to be valued: When you have a skill or knowledge base that is valued in a work community, it’s difficult to give that up. The opportunity to be a valuable cog in the workplace machine is a big draw for older adults interested in working past the standard retirement age.
  • The chance to make a difference: The type of jobs that make a difference in the world or to a community are among the hardest for older adults to walk away from, according to Elizabeth Fielder, who wrote “Men Still at Work” and “Women Still at Work.” The fulfillment they receive from making a difference encourages delayed retirement.
  • Pay and benefits: While it certainly isn’t the only reason, money is still a motivating factor for later retirement. Enjoying continuous paychecks and benefits keeps many older adults working longer than they may have originally planned.

Although older adults are staying at work longer, they aren’t necessarily getting everything they need from their employers or the companies they work for. A survey by The Sloan Center on Aging and Work at Boston College found that working older adults are frustrated by the lack of availability of development and learning opportunities. Since most training occurs early on in careers, older adults are disappointed by their chances for advancement.

Regardless of why older adults are remaining in the workforce longer, the choice to retire is a personal one that should be made with proper timing and your family situation in mind.

Are you an older adult in the workplace? What has motivated you to keep working?

Quaker Ideals


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