Semi-Retirement: The New Job Trend Among Baby Boomers

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Call it the Great Semi-Retirement. That’s where a lot of boomers might be headed as employers try to convince older staffers to stick around longer in a labor market plagued by a shortage of workers.

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About two-thirds of boomers say their companies are “well prepared” to handle their departures, according to a new survey from The Harris Poll commissioned by Express Employment Professionals, a provider of staffing solutions. But less than half of these employees (48%) say their companies have an adequate successor in place when they do retire.

One potential answer is “semi-retirement.” This might take several different forms, ranging from flexible schedules and consulting work to reduced hours.

The survey of 2,002 U.S. working adults ages 18 and older found that most employees would take part in semi-retirement if it were offered. Nearly eight in 10 (79%) favored doing so through a flexible work schedule, while 66% said they would be willing to transition to a consulting role (66%) and 59% said they would be open to reduced hours and benefits. But only about one five (21%) said their employers offer semi-retirement options.

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That percentage could rise dramatically as employers try to adapt to a new working dynamic brought about by COVID-19. More than one-fifth of the survey respondents said the pandemic has caused them to delay their retirement plans, while about one-tenth said COVID convinced them to retire earlier than planned.

But a much larger percentage — more than two-thirds — said they are worried about saving enough for retirement, making them prime candidates for work arrangements that would let them keep earning money.

More than 40% of boomers said there are certain benefits their employers could offer that would entice them to remain on the job. Of these, 58% want more help transitioning to retirement, which could lead to a rise in semi-retirement.

Another option is to bring former employees back to serve as knowledge experts or mentors, or to handle key client relationships.

With so many employers facing a labor shortage, it makes sense for companies to investigate all available alternatives to fill their payrolls, experts say.

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“Our workforce is losing a big generation that has workforce skills and talents we will be short of in the workplace,” Nancy Reed, who owns several Express Employment franchises in Texas, said in a press release. “It would be ideal for those not quite ready to retire to serve as mentors, trainees and expert consultants who can be brought in as part-time or semi-retirement.”

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About the Author

Vance Cariaga is a London-based writer, editor and journalist who previously held staff positions at Investor’s Business Daily, The Charlotte Business Journal and The Charlotte Observer. His work also appeared in Charlotte Magazine, Street & Smith’s Sports Business Journal and Business North Carolina magazine. He holds a B.A. in English from Appalachian State University and studied journalism at the University of South Carolina. His reporting earned awards from the North Carolina Press Association, the Green Eyeshade Awards and AlterNet. In addition to journalism, he has worked in banking, accounting and restaurant management. A native of North Carolina who also writes fiction, Vance’s short story, “Saint Christopher,” placed second in the 2019 Writer’s Digest Short Short Story Competition. Two of his short stories appear in With One Eye on the Cows, an anthology published by Ad Hoc Fiction in 2019. His debut novel, Voodoo Hideaway, was published in 2021 by Atmosphere Press.
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