Retirement, part I: Easing out of the workplace
but a supportive employer can make all the difference.
Ginger Bruner, founder of Dynamic HR Solutions Inc., a local group of human resources professionals, said employers play a key role in helping their employees prepare for retirement.
Bruner has 20 years of management and HR experience and advises employers how to ease the transition for the retiring individual and the company. It starts with training another employee to fill the soon-to-be vacant position.
“Someone who has been with the business for 30 years has a lot of knowledge, some of which is anecdotal stuff that is not easy to capture.
“A sales person will have great relationships around the valley and know things about a client, like his or her birthday. It is more than just transferring a client. It’s about trying to transfer a relationship.”
Bruner said employers should communicate with the entire company about an employee who is retiring. Retirement impacts the individual but also the team, and morale may be affected.
“Communication is big, not only for the employee or employees directly involved, but for everyone. I worked in a restaurant and there was a hostess who had been with the company for close to 25 years. She was a pillar in the restaurant.
“When she retired, the team also felt a loss. Guests would ask for her and there was sadness when people had to say she retired.”
Bruner and the rest of the management team helped ease the hostess out of her job by adjusting her shifts to gradually decrease her hours and giving her time to meet with financial planners to get her affairs in order. Making an allowance for an individual’s needs can make a positive impact on the team.
When an employer doesn’t prepare the company for a retirement, everyone loses.
“The worst case scenario is huge staffing shortages. When someone retires and the company doesn’t plan for it, there is a gap and a loss of knowledge. Owners can’t know every piece of information.”
Bruner said some benefit plans have an employee-assistance program, which includes counselling, financial planning, and legal services. Employers can inform their employees about these benefits, which can be helpful to someone heading into retirement—especially an unexpected one.
“An unexpected retirement can happen for health reasons. If not the employee’s own health, then that of someone they are caring for. It pulls them away from being able to be at work.”
Leaving work abruptly can affect more than income. Bruner said there is more to retirement than dollars and cents.
“Traditionally, we think of retirement as a money game. People forget work provides more than financial means. There’s a social aspect. Many people who retire go back to work because they miss being around people and feeling satisfaction for contributing meaningfully to something.”
Bruner, who is a board member for Volunteer Victoria, suggested retirees seek community involvement and volunteering as ways to fill that gap.
Bruner said a successful retirement is a team effort.
“It’s a personal thing to retire. A wise employer will support employees through retirement. The rest of the team is watching how employees are managed. Would people really want to work for someone who doesn’t treat people with respect in retirement?”
According to the third-annual RBC Retirement Myths and Realities Poll:
Only 62% of retired boomers have the choice about when to retire.
20% of retired boomers knew they were going to retire one month or less before their retirement.
42% had less than six months’ notice before they retired.
78% say they wanted to enjoy an active retirement while their health was good.
34% said being healthy was the main reason for retiring, ahead of having enough money.
25% said the main reason for retiring was being unhappy at work.