By Claire West
People approaching retirement should consider staying in employment longer to age more healthily according to Cognitive Neuroscientist and Business Improvement Strategist, Dr Lynda Shaw.
With much talk in the media about an ageing population, the effect on pensions and a strain on the economy, Shaw says staying in work making you healthier because it instils self-worth and value, versus possible depression and a sedentary lifestyle that can be associated with retirement.
Dr Lynda Shaw says: “Depression is enormously on the increase and so is stress and anxiety coming from loneliness, isolation and lack of self-worth post leaving employment. Many retirees I have talked with have said they don’t know how to fill their day and feel older since quitting work.
“You can actually age more healthily by staying in work as long as your work is fulfilling and not drudgery. We know staying sharp on the job can help you stay mentally fit and healthy. Those who retire earlier often become sedentary sooner and develop health issues. Physical work though of course is another matter altogether.
“Furthermore we all know that job loss for any age group can have a detrimental effect on physical, mental and emotional health. This not only includes the health of the individual, but also affects the wellbeing of their families and loved ones. DeFrank and Ivancevich; and McLoyd have carried out some interesting research to support these findings.”
Whilst it is true the recession has forced many to put off retirement out of financial need and because these days they have more considerable family and other obligations, many workers past retirement age enjoy all the flexibility they need as they can quit it if they’re not happy meaning workers in their 60s+ can feel less trapped than their young counterparts.
Shaw argues that not only do older employees feel the benefits of working through retirement age but employers benefit from older workers who have accrued a wealth of knowledge and business and social experience over a long working period. Dr Shaw added that older employees can mentor young people, which not only boosts their abilities but also generates communication and a stronger working relationship.
“The trend that 70 is the new 50 in the workforce (as well as in lifestyle and health) has risen because of patterns that older workers seem to have stronger writing, grammar and spelling skills in English, and have a stronger professionalism/work ethic. We have this wonderful bank of talent in the older generation, why are we throwing it away in business? Let’s look at what is right with the ageing population and be grateful that we have longevity, rather than look at what is wrong! Companies need to embrace the work ethic and knowledge of the over 60s.”
From her talks with organisations including pension funds and HR professionals, Shaw says: “In business there is a genuine problem with the loss of older boomer workers but only a small percentage of organizations are addressing the issue and implementing specific policies and management practices in anticipation of this potential ‘talent’ loss.”
Figures from earlier this year from the Office for National Statistics showed the average age people leave the labour forces has increased from 63.8 years to 64.6 years for men, and from 61.2 years to 62.3 years for women between 2004 and 2010.