Years ago, when I worked in the hotel industry, the company’s labor attorney would call once a year to ask a favor. It was for reservations in our restaurant on New Year’s Day. Every year. Reservations on New Year’s. Finally, I got up the nerve to ask him why he wanted the reservation. He explained that he and his wife would have a super long lunch on New Year’s to talk about the future. They discussed their life, jobs, etc.
I thought this was a great idea. So, when we started our company, my husband and I started having the same conversation. Now we did do things a little bit differently. Instead of lunch on New Year’s, we call ours a strategic planning meeting. And it included a conversation about retirement.
As the owner of a small business, we knew it was important for us to think about what we wanted our retirement to look like. And when we wanted to start retirement.
During these conversations, there was one thing that kept coming up – how much we liked blogging. We had no idea when we started HR Bartender ten years ago that the blog would have grown exponentially and that we would love writing, marketing, and interacting with a community of readers.
So, we decided to start a blog about retirement. But in doing so, we realized that what we were really creating was a blog about having something to do instead of traditional retirement. Hence, the concept of unretirement was born.
Since we launched the blog last year, I’ve talked to many individuals who are thinking about the same things that we were in terms of their own unretirement. Employees who enjoy working and want to continue contributing, albeit on a reduced schedule. Individuals who would like to pursue their encore career.
Organizations have a huge opportunity here. With unemployment at record lows, companies need to find ways to tap into the talents of individuals thinking about retirement and unretirement. There are three ways to consider doing it:
All jobs are not necessarily full-time jobs. When work needs to be done, the organization needs to ask the question, “Is this a full-time job?” It’s possible that the organization could engage a part-time, on call, or freelancer to get the work done.
Consider a benefits package for part-time employees. In many organizations, benefits are for full-time employees and if you’re not full-time, you have no benefits. As companies build a contingent workforce, think about the possibility of establishing a benefits package for part-time employees.
Train managers on the best way to engage contingent workers. It’s absolutely critical for managers to engage part-time employees and freelancers at the same levels of full-time staff. The company still expects high levels of performance from all workers.
Organizations cannot afford to let their talent simply “retire”, taking years of knowledge and experience with them. Allowing employees to unretire for a few years could be a real win for both employees and employers. But it takes planning and open, honest conversations about the future.2