Retirement: The point at which one gives up one’s work, usually between the ages of 60 to 65.

Retirement for many employees is a mixed blessing. The employee may be free of the daily demands of his or her job, but at the same time be slightly adrift due to not having a job to go to. In a recent survey, 78% of employees said they expect to continue working in some capacity after normal retirement age (64% said they want to do so part time). Only about a third said they plan to continue work for financial reasons; about 43% said they just wanted to remain active. About 30% of the employers in one survey therefore reported having formal pre-retirement counseling aimed at easing the passage of their employees into retirement. The most common pre-retirement practices were:

Pre-retirement counseling: Counseling provided to employees who are about to retire, which covers matters such as benefits advice, second careers and so on.

Explanation of Social Security benefits (reported by 97% of those with pre-retirement education program)

Leisure team counseling (86%)

Financial and investment counseling (84%)

Health counseling (82%)

Psychological counseling (35%)

Counseling for second careers outside the company (31%)

Counseling for second careers inside the company (4%)

Retirement planning does not just benefit soon to be retirees; it’s also increasingly important for employers. In the United States the 25 to 34 year old segment is growing relatively slowly and the 35-44 groups is declining. Employers like CVS pharmacy therefore face a labor shortage. Many have wisely chosen to fill their staffing needs in part with current or soon to be retirees. As one study concluded in the past few years, companies have been so focused on downsizing to contain costs that they largely neglected a looming threat to their competitiveness. Therefore retirement planning is no longer just for helping current employees quietly slip in to retirement. It should also enable the employer to retain, in some capacity the skills and brain power of those who would normally retire and leave the firm.

Various factors including the shortage of talent in some areas have prompted Indian organization also to re-look at retirement policies and approaches. Many firms in the private and public sectors employ retired persons back on a contractual basis, so that their experience can be used. To face the challenge of teaching faculty shortage e government of India allowed national level educational institutes like IITs, IIMs, and central universities to employ retired faculty. Retired employees from armed forces have been employed by the employ retired faculty. Retired employees from armed forces have been employed by the growing ITES / BPO firms which faced severe employee shortage. At the same time many traditional firms including the Tata group introduced formal retirement policies so that younger talent get opportunities to move up the ladder at the right time. To facilitate post retirement career and life, firms like the Indian Oil Corporation conduct pre-retirement seminars for employees, so that retiring employees can make best use of their expertise.

Doing so requires a change in emphasis on the part of most employers. In general, human resource policies tend to discourage older workers’ employment. Suggestions include:

Offer flexible work: Companies need to design jobs such that staying on are more attractive than leaving. One of the simplest ways to do this is through flexible work specifically making where one works (as with telecommuting) and the work is performed flexible.

Offer part time work:

Another trend is granting part time employment to employees as an alternative to outright retirement. Several surveys of blue and white collar employees showed that about half of all employees over age 55 would like to continue working part time after they retire.

One need not wait until someone is ready to retire to provide retirement planning assistance. For example, American Express introduced an online asset allocation tool for use by its employer client’s retirement plan participants. The Web based tool, called retirement Guidance planner lets an employer’s retirement plan participants calculate and keep track of progress toward retirement income goals and more easily allocate assets among different investment online. Many firms including Vanguard and Fidelity offer similar online programs.

In India the Dignity foundation an NGO and ICICI Prudential have launched a Web portal, to help retired employees find meaningful careers. As longevity and health standards of the Indian population have increased, retired employees (the formal age of retirement in India varies between 55 years for state government employees in Kerala to 600 for the government of India and other firms) are still in their prime and can continue to work. However, considering that India is a young country and high unemployment rates continue, politically the demand for increasing the retirement age has not found much support.

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