Transitioning Staff into Retirement

While this doesn’t qualify as ground breaking news, our workforce is growing up: the number of over-65s had been growing on an average of 2.7% per year, and has now reached a growth of 3.5%. There will be 4 million people aged over 65 in Australia by 2022, compared with 2.4 million in 2007.

In addition to this, the generational evolution of superannuation and other investments is enabling more Australian workers to have a greater choice and more control over when they retire and what that will look like.

Once people reach their 50’s (if not before), they start focussing more on their Exit Strategy or Retirement Plan. A number of discussions take place with their Partner and from there they reach out to other key people within their network – friends, family, financial advisor/s, medical advisors. But rarely do they engage their employer, or staff until after they have finalised their retirement plan, for fear of an adverse reaction to the news.

This presents a great opportunity for employers to take a more proactive role in assisting staff in formulating plans to transition into retirement. As already mentioned, the majority of staff over the age of 50 will be thinking about retirement and if they have an employer that proactively provides meaningful information and assistance, it will provide them with the confidence to discuss the issue with their immediate manager, or HR department. Even better if their employer has a documented policy on transitioning into retirement.

Some thoughts on how to assist in the transition

Workforce Planning

Developing a strategic workforce plan that considers the current situation; the short, medium and long term implications inside and outside your business will provide you with greater insight. This will enable the plan to form part of the overall business strategy and will enable your business to manage the future, as opposed to the future managing you.


Establish and document a policy for the transitioning of staff into retirement. This will provide for a consistent approach across the business that will create an inclusive environment where staff will engage early in the planning process.

Upskill your managers

Training your key management team to support your transition to retirement policy is critical. They need to be on board initially to support and drive the training through to the department managers, supervisors, team leaders/leading hands. This is all about establishing a culture within the organisation and everyone in a leadership role needs to be fully aware of the policy.

Be empathetic

Retirement, in whatever form, is a significant change in an individual’s life. Being mindful of what your older employees are going through is important in order to create confidence in the process they are working through with you. Retirement has implications in all areas, including financial, emotional, and physical. Awareness of this throughout the process is critical.

Manage your organisation’s knowledge

Managed well, the process of transitioning to retirement will provide for the transfer of knowledge to your younger team members. Establishing a mentoring program within the process is good risk management and will allow an organisation to manage the flow of information and experience.

Communication is the key 

Retirement shouldn’t be a word that’s avoided around the office. If you have your policy documented and have provided the training to your line managers, then it is all about supporting an open communication environment. Everyone should feel that throughout the organisation you are all “stepping as one”.

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