About Me

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Fishers, Indiana, United States
Brenda gained career expertise as a human resources leader at a global company before becoming an HR consultant. Her functional experience includes a variety of sales roles in the health care industry achieving success for over 30 years. She is currently in Consulting & Analytics Business Development for a health care firm. Her passion is participating in, writing about and observing the evolving workforce. For the first time in history four generations work together. It keeps things interesting. Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) are redefining retirement and what it means to age in the workforce. It is not just about money. Okay it plays a role! At 76.4 million members strong, Boomers are leveraging technology to continue their careers and the personal fulfillment working brings. Managing a late-stage career requires a strategy. There is no roadmap or one size fits all answer. This blog is about sharing, networking & finding your own right answer to working later, managing your career, redefining retirement, looking for work in your 50s & 60s and reinventing yourself.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Why You May Not Be Retiring

Don’t order that gold watch just yet!  You can also postpone the cruise you were planning, keep the hammock packed up and tell your boss to delay your “surprise” retirement party for about five years. That’s the result of the “SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set™ Study” released last week. In this nationwide survey of pre-retirees and retirees age 55+ the concept of retirement has changed significantly and I don’t think we should be surprised.

The bottom-line is 54% of the respondents in the 2011 survey viewed retirement as a new chapter for opportunities in their lives. In 2001 only 31% held that view. Retirement a decade ago was looked at as a time to “wind down.” In addition to the financial aspects, 2/3 of those surveyed wanted to remain productive, active and connected with some type of “job” as the primary means to accomplish those goals. Lastly, pre-retirees planned to delay retirement until age sixty-nine.

Unexpected health problems and job losses forced many of the current retirees surveyed to leave work earlier than planned. In the current survey, SunAmerica renamed their four profiles of retirees: Ageless Explorers-Cautiously Contents-Live for Todays and Worried Strugglers. Use this link to access the study and see which category fits you.

While SunAmerica is interested primarily in the financial aspects of retirement, there are other considerations as well. Where will this new generation of “never say retire” workers find a job? The brain drain of Baby Boomers was supposed to be a risk for employers, but they seem all too eager to replace 47-65 year old Boomers with GenX, Gen Y and Millenials. The prestigious company names where Baby Boomers built their careers and resumes are handing out severance packages (for the lucky ones) like Halloween candy. Many large corporations replace the intellectual capital and maturity experienced workers offer. Privately, HR professionals and workforce planners offer a host of reasons from perceived employee benefit costs to tension between Boomers and workers of later generations as reasons mature workers are offered “a package”. I’ve also talked to younger managers who say they don’t feel comfortable with older workers reporting to them. Their reasons varied.

So if you feel good and want to earn money by working longer; it is important to find companies, industries and managers that embrace experienced workers. Despite lists that profess to have found the “Top Companies for Baby Boomers” or “Best Companies for Senior Employees” these have to be reviewed critically like any other “Best” list. Department to department and manager to manager, companies change. The list ranks the overall policies and hiring practices. A new term, “Encore Career” combines mature workers, earning a paycheck, doing work that is meaningful to them with flexible hours. Some sectors to consider for your “Encore Career” are health care, membership organizations/associations, nonprofits, educational services companies, companies that provide services to older people and smaller companies. Perhaps a lower level role within a large global corporation is a possibility if it is in the same industry as your primary career (the hiring manager may have to challenge HR to bring you in). Some state and local governments still have opportunities and there’s always the possibility to experience entrepreneurship. The opportunities are as varied as franchisee, independent consultant, proven multi-level marketing organizations to opening an independent business. Go For It! Take Your Encore!


  1. I've been thinking about career a lot lately. Mostly about how I'm not sure I will ever stop working. I'm not made to sit at home, never learned to knit, and though I like a clean house, I don't obsess. A bit of dust is a testament to sanity.

    Like many of you, I am from a generation of women who worked. My first professional paycheck came in 1979, and I was proud. I was the first to go to college and I remember the power and strength I felt as I signed for a car loan, signed papers for an apartment, and wrote my first check. With the exception of a few months' of time at home after children were born, I've been in the workplace. And a good thing it was, too. I remember my mom telling me I should have a job "to fall back on" but in truth, I've always been the primary wage earner in my family.

    I thank the heavens that I've only been laid off once, and was able to go from one job to another fairly quickly. I'm grateful that occasional contract opportunities for exta income have come my way. But retirement? I'm 57, and the work circumstances for my children, all in their 20s, are not as strong as we wished they were. Two of them still live with us. It's smarter. Like everyone else who had retirement savings, there was that hiccup. But what really has been the cause for determination and realigned priorities is that we are now sharing in the support of an older family member. That's a long story, but the reality is that I'm a Boomer who is sandwiched and caught between my own self-interests, my kids, and my older loved one.

    I'm guessing there will be a lot like me who started down a path, made adjustments as needed, and are still making adjustments. It's what women do so well.

  2. I did one of those retirement calculator things on my company's 401k web site and it looks like I can afford to retire when I am 112. I can't wait. Thanks Brenda.

  3. I don't want to "retire" and do nothing. I just hoped that when I got to age 59.5 that I could use my 401-k money and get a job I wanted like at a nonprofit or something. I thought I could maybe work less hours but it doesn't look like that is going to happen. My company does not have a pension plan and my 401-k account has lost a lot of money and is just coming back. My full social security age is 66 years old and I am afraid it going to get cut or reduced. I feel I have to keep working at my current job and I wish I didn't but I don't have a choice.

  4. I made the mistake of leaving my company after 30 years when I turned 59.5 because I hated my boss. I did not have a plan when I left except for getting away from him. I have been seeking employment for 6 months because I am bored to death. I am now 60.5 and have 1.5 years to go to get my social security. I am not planning on waiting until I am 66 years old.

  5. Did you see the stock market today? You are more right than you even know. Everyone should think twice before retiring or taking their social security early. Hunker down and keep working. The global economy is too volatile to quit.

  6. Retirement is an elusive goal for me and my husband. Besides the fact we enjoy our careers, the idea of spending 20 or 30 years in a rocking chair or babysitting my grandchildren then great-grandchildren does not hold a lot of appeal to me. And with my 401(k) sinking a little further everyday because of politicans who work until they are in their 80s, it may not be an option anyway.

  7. Hey, we should have our SS in the stock market like the IR'S AND 401K. Who were the parties saying this is the way to go for SS?