O'Donnell Kerr Financial Planners
  • 10 February, 2015

Re-framing work in retirement

Realise your Dream 

The Realise Your Dream blogs are written by Peter Kelly and Mark Teale. More information about the authors can be found here 

I recently heard an interview with Professor Caitrin Lynch, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the Olin College of Engineering in Massachusetts. She was in Australia to speak at the Australian Association of Gerontology annual conference held in Adelaide.

With more Australians needing, or desiring to remain engaged in the workforce after traditional retirement age, and with the Government already having drafted legislation (not yet passed) that would see the age pension age progressively increase to 70, Professor Lynch presented a compelling argument.

Engaging older workers in the workplace is a two-way street. There are plenty of older Australians who are not only willing to retain some workplace engagement, but who bring skills that are vital to many businesses. However, employers also need to be open minded to the benefits that older workers can bring to the workplace. Employers need a creative mindset and need to be flexible when employing older workers.

Employment of older workers delivers a number of key benefits which include:

  1. Income to assist with living costs;
  2. Contact and interaction with others.


Work provides retirees not only with income, but with an environment where they can interact with others. Many retirees experience periods of loneliness. The opportunity to relate with others in a workplace environment can provide a sense of community, care and camaraderie that might otherwise be absent from their lives. This is healthy.

There are many inspiring stories of Australians who have remain engaged in the workplace after normal retirement age, whether on a part-time, full-time, seasonal or casual basis. For many retirees, the prime motivation might not be to earn more money, but to “put something back”. These people form the backbone of Australia’s vast army of volunteers.

But, whether paid work or voluntary, a common theme seems to be that people crave for contact with others.

For employers – the challenge is to see how older workers might contribute to your business, and to develop policies that embrace the employment of older workers.

For retirees – it is having the confidence that you have something valuable to offer, and to go out and claim it.

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