How to get the perfect work-life balance with ‘pretirement’
Written by Sue Smethurst for Australian Seniors.
In the latest Australian Seniors survey, Ageing in the Workforce 2021, many older Australians say they want to work longer – and flexible and part-time roles are particularly appealing to them. Happily, employers are increasingly meeting that demand.
Organisational psychologist Humphrey Armstrong, author of Connecting the Dots: How To Make the Most of Your Later-Life Career and Retirement Transitions, says: “Of all the things to have come out of COVID, one of the most revolutionary is the evolution of hybrid working, it had to become the norm and that’s had huge implications. It’s now normal for organisations to be considering part-time or flexible work, which is a bonus for older workers.”
Plenty of opportunities
In 2008, seeing a gap in the market, Matt and his father Shane Higgins created the website olderworkers.com.au to link people with employers who are actively seeking mature age staff. Today they have almost 60,000 registered jobseekers around Australia and around 4,500 employers posting jobs on the site. Older Australians offer a rich talent pool for shift, flexible and part-time work and Matt says there are plenty of opportunities available.
“Companies like Australia Post, Coles and Woolworths really value the experience of older workers, so too do banks and insurance companies. Smart employers are doing their homework on the people they are trying to sell their services to, and they’re working out they have a lot of older people who are buying their products and they need staff to service that demographic.
“Even companies like Apple realise that older people use their products and they are employing older workers to cater to the need.”
While 67% of the over 50s who took part in the Ageing in the Workforce study say that discussing ‘pretirement’ plans with employers, such as cutting back on days or hours, is important, alarmingly only 36% have already done so.
Humphrey says that the key to negotiating with an employer – whether it’s to make a transition to retirement, stay on but reduce hours to part-time or more flexible work, or to land a new job – is being confident and the master of your own destiny. “Older people need to get on the front foot and sell their skills, don’t sit back, speak up and play to your strengths – you’ve really got nothing to lose.”
How to be financially savvy
Taking on any additional work can have an impact on your finances. It might mean you can reduce the amount you draw down from your super, or impact the Age Pension entitlements, so it’s important to seek advice if you’re not sure.
Aware of the benefits of keeping older Australians engaged with the workforce, the government has a Work Bonus policy, which reduces the amount of income from employment that is included under the pension income test. According to the Department of Social Services, currently the first $300 of fortnightly income from work is not assessed under the pension income test, and in addition to that, an eligible, single pensioner can earn $178 a fortnight as a Work Bonus, and this is not counted either.
Fast facts from the study
Our Ageing in the Workforce survey of Australia’s over 50s finds...
• 67% say discussing ‘pretirement’ plans with employers is important.
• 57% believe part-time hours are the ideal condition for seniors transitioning into retirement.
• 76% would keep working indefinitely if they had flexible work conditions.
See the full results of The Australian Seniors Series: Ageing in the Workforce 2021 survey.
23 Feb 2022