Have you heard of unretirement? It is a new phenomenon where retirees decided to come out of retirement and re-join the workforce.
Looking at statistics over the ditch, the Australian Bureau of Statistics data reveals that 177,500 Australians aged 45 years and over who had previously retired returned to work or were planning to in 2016-17, the latest stats available. Nearly half (42 per cent) were doing so for financial reasons, while 32 per cent stated they were “bored and needed something to do”. Often retirement just isn’t what people picture it to be!
The trend is hardly surprising as the cost of living is continually on the rise. According to the ABS Living Cost Index, after-tax incomes needed to increase by 2 per cent to 2.5 per cent over the past year in order to keep up with living expenses – the fastest increase in four years.
The biggest increase in expenses was for pensioners, who saw costs soar more than 0.7 per cent alone in the December quarter of 2018. Over the same period, the living costs of employee households rose 0.6 per cent, while self-funded retiree household expenses rose 0.5 per cent.
But financial reasons are not the only reason people are looking into unretirement
People are quitting their full-time jobs in their 50s (sometimes, their 40s) to pursue early unretirement. In this sense they are stepping away from their current career path to look at and create a more flexible lifestyle. This, in many cases, extends their working lives but means they can balance part-time work, entrepreneurial ventures, volunteering and also fun.
Often those returning to the workforce seek a career change. They may not want to go back to a high-pressure job but focus on something more meaningful.
In saying this, it isn’t always easy to make a big career change later in life. If the main reason for going back to work was because of financial pressures, this sometimes forces people to be less willing to take risks and may mean people like a more frugal lifestyle. Ageism is also one of the main hurdles older people have to overcome to gain employment in New Zealand, and elsewhere in the world.
In some workplaces there is outright prejudice towards older people who are not even considered for positions. In others there is a perception that older people are fine for positions that require ‘soft skills’ but they are often overlooked, solely because of their age, when it comes to the ‘edgier’ roles. There is often the ‘guilt trip’ (yet within the law) type of pressure too, on those approaching retirement age to ‘give a younger person a chance’.
Whatever your reason, returning to the workforce after your ‘retirement’ can be fulfilling in many ways.