This Week's Herman Trend Alert

Leadership in Normal 2.0

  The Herman Trend Alert

December 9, 1998

Older Workers Coming On Strong

Older workers are not interested in retiring, at least not full time. They want to stay productive, to lead useful lives. They’re coming back from retirement in droves, just at the time that employers have been crying for experienced, mature, stable workers.

These dedicated workers are more interested in being valued and in doing something meaningful than they are in big paychecks. They’re moving into all sorts of jobs—front line production positions, retail and service tasks, and executive assignments. They’re mentoring younger employees and preaching the concept of employment longevity. As they influence their protegés at all levels in the organization, they may dampen the rate of employee turnover.

Retired executives are taking positions far below the level they had attained before retirement. They’re delighted with the opportunity to produce some results on their own, without having the heavy burdens of senior leader responsibility. These renewed workers express delight at being able to do things without having all those critical decisions to make, work to take home, and politics to play. Many report that they’re discovering a happiness they hadn’t felt in years.

Older workers (55 and over) may seek early retirement to ease out of their current career paths—so they can shift into a new lifestyle with less responsibility. This movement, if it catches on, could drain companies of some of the inherent knowledge that is resident in these valuable long-term employees. The age of the gold watch retirement is coming to a close; workers may not last long enough with any one employer to earn the traditional recognition for significant longevity.

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