In an article by Richard Ford in The Times he highlights how “baby boomers are spearheading a social revolution that will force companies to recognise the benefits of a gradual withdrawal from the world of work, rather than a sudden cut-off retirement date.”
Ros Altmann, a former director-general of Saga ( a firm that focuses on the over 50’s), said that the change was being driven by people living longer and healthier lives, along with poor pension prospects for those heading towards retirement age.
Also many of us will have witnessed the sad decline and even death of individuals who appeared healthy on the outside, who just couldn’t cope with retirement and who within a short-time of retiring suffered health problems or worse.
An article over ten years ago that looked at the lives of people over 100 years old found that all of those they interviewed still did some kind of work – admittedly not full time, but all of them were ‘active’ to some degree.
“There is a social revolution under way, which is being led by the baby boomers, who have redefined everything in their lives, particularly around the world of work. They are now going to redefine retirement,” Ms Altmann said.
Her comments come as a report published on 4th August 2014 highlights how age no longer defines the hobbies and lifestyle of the over 50 ‘super-boomers’. It says that with their fitter bodies, more active minds, higher levels of entrepreneurship and fewer worries about what people think of them than previous generations of over 50’s, they are increasingly the face of fashion, design and beauty.
One third of the British population is now over 50 – the ‘super-boomers’ who are the wealthiest, healthiest and most active people in that age group in history. By 2030 the number of people aged 60 will reach 20 million, according to official figures.
A report by The Future Laboratory, commissioned by the Huawei technology company, highlighted how a ‘second life’ awaits the over-50’s, during which they will start second or even third careers, including setting up craft-based businesses. Tom Savigar, chief strategy officer of The Future Laboratory, said of the over-50’s; “retirement offers them the chance to rev up rather than slow down, to start a new business or career, to invest and seek adventure – all with confidence, experience and attitude.”
Yet we mustn’t forget that as the divide between the wealthy and the poor seems to increase in every country around the world – this divide will exist within the over 50 age group too. There will be those 50 year olds who have had full and successful careers who have the means to ‘rev up’ rather than slow down and look at opportunities to ‘invest’ in craft-based businesses. But we must be realistic and recognise that there will be a large proportion of this over 50 age group that will suffer – they will not be able to afford to live a decent life – not being able to afford fuel bills to keep them warm in winter, and even lack the finances to feed themselves properly.
The suffering that exists today within the elderly population will just increase – and what I’m not seeing anywhere is the plan for dealing with this group of people. Many will suffer through no fault of their own, where pensions – that were once secure vehicles to ensure you had a good retirement – are no longer secure.
So many will have to work after retirement simply because they need the income to survive and this group will compete with other job hunters unless organisations can find a win-win scenario to develop dual operating structures that allow retires to work for them.
The retirement landscape is definitely changing and in a big way – and though academics and researchers have recognised and written about this phenomenon, it’s not clear that organisations (or governments) are making any changes to their ‘modus operandi’ to cater for this change.
So it seems likely that the ‘baby boomers’ themselves will have to spearhead the change in the retirement landscape – and it’s a change that is coming very, very quickly.
Ford, R. (2014). Over-50 ‘superboomers’ rewrite the retirement rules. The Times. 4th August, p.9-10.
Submitted by Andre du Toit