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We’re Retiring Early Because We’re Tired – But Employers Can Break The Cycle

We’re Retiring Early Because We’re Tired – But Employers Can Break The Cycle

Workers are tired, and yet many employers seem unwilling to embrace flexible work. 

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Australians are choosing to retire when they hit their 50s, ignoring government calls for them to work longer. Figures released by the ABS this week show that last financial year, the average age at retirement for people aged 45 and over was 53.8 years.

On the face of it these figures seem confusing. Isn’t 50 the new 40? And don’t we all want to and need to work into our 60s, given average life expectancy in this country stretches in the 80s?

But on further consideration, these numbers don’t surprise me.

Spend time with any group for Australians, particularly men, in their 50s and they will tell you the same story. We are tired.

Tired of the long days working full time, tired of the commute and tired of putting our health and relationships on the backburner to meet that pressing deadline. If you are tired and 51, the idea of working at the same pace in the same way for the next 15 to 20 years seems like too much.

And yet asking your employer to work part time, more flexibly or evenfour days a week is not always an easy task. The perception is that unless you have a serious health problem or young children, negotiating that kind of flexibility is difficult. “I really want to work 4 days a week so I can play golf, go to my physio and pick up the grandkids from school,” is one comment I heard recently. And yet it is just this kind of lifestyle adjustment that might squeeze more years in the labour force from Australians in their 50s.

I am still constantly surprised at the narrow-minded views of some in business about people who don’t work full time. They aren’t really committed to their jobs. They don’t follow through. They cost the company more than full-time employees. They aren’t interested in advancement or further training. They’ve given up. Their priorities lie elsewhere.

In my experience that’s balderdash. The right person in a part time job can work as, if not more, productively as a full-time employee.

If you want to keep older Australians working into their 60s and beyond the answer is simple –really embrace flexible and part time work.


*Original Article by Rebecca Huntley: