retirement employees engaged

Four Tips for Keeping Employees Engaged Prior to Retirement

Patricia Bagsby, Ph.D., Vice President of Organizational Consulting, is back on the blog! Today, she’s sharing four tips for keeping employees engaged at work even while they’re preparing for retirement.

Four Tips for Keeping Employees Engaged Prior to Retirement

As employees get closer to their date of retirement, they spend more non-financial resources on their upcoming career transition. They may spend more time and energy on thinking about retirement.

Research shows not all pre-retirees have positive thoughts about retirement. At least one-third of retirees experience retirement as a stressor. Research shows these employees approach retirement with a sense of stress and anxiety, which is likely to have a negative spillover in to their current work role.

For those who have been excitedly planning for retirement, the idea that some colleagues do not feel the same can be puzzling. However, retirement preparation is a highly individualized endeavor, and as such, responses to leaving work behind can be extremely varied.

What to Look For When Employees Are Struggling

An employee who is having a difficult time managing their pre-retirement phase may respond in these ways:

  • Decreased involvement in their current work. This is may be due to employees investing more time and energy into trying to plan for — and cope with — their upcoming transition to retirement.
  • Decline in quality of workplace relationships. For pre-retirees who are experiencing negative responses to retirement, positively managing conflicts at work will be more challenging.
  • Erosion of trust in the organization. Resistance in turning over project information or client relationships can be a symptom of not trusting that the organization will continue to find value in the employee’s presence until the date of their retirement. Knowledge hoarding can be a way to protect their role until they must let go.

Tips for Keeping Pre-Retirees Engaged

Determining how to support and manage a pre-retiree’s motivation during the countdown to retirement is an important task. Pre-retirees hold a wealth of knowledge regarding the tasks, context, and history of an organization. Additionally, workers who retire from your organization could be the best — or worst — marketing you can have.

It makes good business sense to assist pre-retirees in managing the transition to retirement well. Here are some tips for how to do that:

  1. Recognize the potential for burnout among employees who are transitioning to retirement. Understand this is a career transition. Transitions mean preparation, upskilling, and onboarding. These activities are still relevant for transitioning to retirement.
  2. Acknowledge the added stress your pre-retiree workers are under. Express your empathy for pre-retirees’ well-being, as they are balancing both old and new roles.
  3. Find ways to help pre-retirees cope with the stress of managing the competing demands of completing their current work while planning for their future state. You want to keep your pre-retirees as invested as possible. Provide resources for them to process this career transition before it results in a disengagement from current work or the experience of strain from demands that outweigh personal resources.
  4. Partner with Psychological Associate to formalize a well-rounded retirement planning program for your employees. We provide training and coaching on building a retirement map around non-financial personal resources and remaining invested in work while transitioning to retirement. It’s a win-win!


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