Choosing to retire: how companies can support and respect the decision better

Published on Apr 18, 2016in Journal of Business Strategy
· DOI :10.1108/JBS-01-2015-0005
Bruce D. Gelb69
Estimated H-index: 69
Teri Elkins Longacre2
Estimated H-index: 2
Purpose Organizational leaders understandably seek to match their workforce to the organization’s strategic focus. However, they may find their ability to do so thwarted by reluctance to retire, even by those financially able to do so, based on the stigma that retirement means “old” and “out to pasture.” The purpose of this paper is to learn what can be done to overcome that possible barrier to implementing a strategic direction. Design/methodology/approach The authors interviewed 12 human resources executives across the USA concerning the challenge of reducing the stigma associated with retirement. The qualitative study involved conversations that focused on “what does your organization do?” rather than testing a specific hypothesis. Findings Respondents talked about actions ranging from the image-related to the substantive, practiced in both for-profit and non-profit settings. Organizations can position retirement as a transition to something else, and therefore a career stage rather than its end. Practical implications Organizational leaders can communicate that retirement is not a career end but a stage of work-life that can pay off in increasing flexibility for employees as well as for the organization itself. Social implications While strategic flexibility benefits organizations, a societal benefit can be more satisfied retirees if they transition to education, volunteer leadership or entrepreneurship. Originality/value The value of this research lies in prompting those at the highest level in organizations, those who design strategy, to consider how its implementation can be improved by actions to affect the retirement perspectives of employees.
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