The non-retirement revolution

Amy Hamilton Chadwick
The non-retirement revolution

Retirement is undergoing a revolution: as New Zealanders reach 65, we’re healthier, more energetic and more engaged than we’ve ever been.

With potentially another 30-plus years of life ahead of us, more Kiwis are continuing to work into our 70s, 80s and even beyond.

Between 2000 and 2017, the number of Kiwis aged 65-plus who are working for a wage or salary increased by 278%, while those taking an income from self-employment increased by 108%, according to Statistics NZ. It’s estimated that by 2034 there will be 1.2 million workers aged 65-plus.

“Retirement is no longer the destination it used to be; longevity requires us to abandon out-dated notions of ageing and retiring,” says Troy Churton, CFFC’s national manager – retirement villages and ageing workplace.

“It seems unsustainable to think you get to 65 if you are well enough and then live out potentially another three decades of life without a plan of how you are going to finance yourself, remain happy and healthy.”

Working into your senior years, if your health will allow, has a surprisingly wide range of benefits. Older workers boost the economy as a whole, provide billions of dollars’ worth of voluntary labour in the community, increase their personal incomes and may experience health benefits.

Continuing to work may even decrease your risk of mortality, although job stress and boredom can be detrimental to your wellbeing – the most beneficial work will be something meaningful and engaging.

Whether you’re working by choice or necessity, you may need to consider a career change; switching careers or re-entering the workforce at 65 is becoming increasingly common, says Churton, and many Kiwis successfully navigate into new work.

Sometimes older workers are looking for less physically demanding work, while others want more meaningful encore careers or volunteering.

It’s daunting to think about switching careers at 65, but a shortage of skilled workers means employers are increasingly enthusiastic about taking on older employees.

There are plenty of benefits for business: improved age diversity boosts productivity and performance, while one study found older workers took fewer sick days, had better problem-solving skills and higher levels of job satisfaction than their younger co-workers.

As the retirement revolution gathers momentum, our regulations are beginning to reflect the changing workforce.

Upcoming changes to KiwiSaver mean that from July 1 this year those aged 65 and over can join, which can be advantageous since these funds often have lower fees than comparable non-KiwiSaver funds.

A large number of local employers also continue to pay KiwiSaver contributions to older workers – Churton says you should pursue this when you’re negotiating for a new job so you can get the maximum reward for your efforts.

With extra money coming in to supplement your superannuation, plus the social benefits of continued work, you could find yourself enjoying the most rewarding part of your career.

“Last year I meet a 99-year-old man who was living in a retirement village in Wellington, who had been an accountant and was still doing accounts for his friends and some of his old clients.

He was just incredible,” says Churton. “This whole shift in values to working in retirement has a direct correlation to being healthier and happier.”

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