Practice Development Counsel

Phyllis weiss haserot
Phyllis weiss haserot

President & Founder

212 593-1549

E-Tips: Multi-Generational Solutions Archives

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Workplace Adjustments To New Concepts Of "Retirement"

How the older half of the Baby Boomers will change our concept of “retirement” is an unfolding story. Putting aside financial issues for the time being – “to earn money” is only the third ranked reason Boomers say in numerous surveys they want to keep working – they are looking most for continued intellectual stimulation and the camaraderie of colleagues in the workplace.

But most Boomers don't want a continuation of the current pace. Typically, Boomers say they enjoy working but are tired of the grind, which is considerably more than nine-to-five for most knowledge workers and getting ever more stressful. They want to pursue other interests as well.

They often speak of the intangible benefits of work. In my informal talks with both female and male partners in professional services firms, they may welcome doing new things, but they can't imagine themselves not working at something (paid or unpaid work).

Some employers are beginning to accommodate the desire of older workers for flexible, phased in retirement. The over 55 age group is growing rapidly while the population under 55 is growing very slowly; realistically, this will give the Boomers the clout to produce change.

Peter Cappelli, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton school who studies workforce management, expects many Baby Boomers to avoid full-time work behind a desk at the main office and use technology to make the workplace more flexible in scheduling and location. That sounds like they can no longer be called techno-phobes.

Some ways professionals have found to cut back were cited in a May 14, 2006 New York Times article: "Golfing and Gardening (and Working) in Retirement" by Julie Bick. For example, a radiologist and two partners are sharing duties at a hospital, each working 17 weeks a year to cover the daily needs of the hospital. At some point, he plans to retire from radiology and pursue health care public policy - perhaps as another job.

Probably more relevant for my readers and clients, Stanley onsultants, an engineering consulting firm in Muscatine, Iowa, offers customized phased-in retirement plans for employees and retirement planning workshops for employees and their spouses. The firm's older consultants continue to be valuable because clients want the most experienced to manage their projects. There is no mandatory retirement age, and nearly one-third of employees are over 50. The oldest, age 76, retired officially in 2003 but works six hours a day on projects of his choice. He likes working with his long-time colleagues, and enjoys being with the younger ones who are eager to learn from him.

These enlightened corporate policies aren't widespread yet. The changes will come from pressure from the large numbers of Baby Boomers to stay working - and the fact that firms really need them for their knowledge, judgment, relationships, mentoring abilities and other skills.

I have been consulted about the "disconnect" between pushing out partners around or before age 65 at the same time the firm struggles with a shortage of well prepared younger professionals and an alleged absence of dedicated work attitude on the part of those who are there. Do the current policies make sense?

What is your organization doing to retain the knowledge and goodwill of your senior people? Or to help them plan for their next career/life phase? Stanley Consultants could be one model.

Smart firms will start their transitioning planning five to 10 years before valuable people leave, simultaneously providing for the firm's future needs, the professional development of younger partners and managers, and the senior people's next career/life phase. Want more details and models? Give me a call.

As always, I encourage your comments to


© Phyllis Weiss Haserot, 2006. All rights reserved