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Workforce's New Blend

The looming baby boomer retirements will prompt the beginnings of a new workforce restructuring -- a blend between work and leisure, says one retirement expert.

Friday, June 2, 2006
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Corporate sabbaticals fit right into the "five stages of retirement," as foreseen by Ken Dychtwald, psychologist, gerontologist and authority on retirement.

Dychtwald, Harris Interactive and Ameriprise Financial joined forces to create The New Retirement Mindscape, a study that maps out five stages of retirement. Dychtwald believes that the United States, with the retirement of baby boomers looming, is facing an inevitable and enormous shift in what retirement -- and work schedules look like.

"There are people right now in the throes of making the retirement decision, or who have retired but who would rather be working," Dychtwald says. "The new ideal is not a life of full-time work until you keel over or a life of leisure until your mind turns to Jell-O, but rather some new blend. What people want is a new blend, a new balance between work and leisure."

Workers of all ages may begin to feel the same way as we approach a time that, Dychtwald says, is the end of retirement as we know it, and the beginning of a new breed of worker.

"Perhaps they'd like phased retirement. Perhaps they'd like to go down to four days a week, or three," he says. "Or maybe people would like part-time assignments, cycling in and out of the workforce."

Corporate sabbaticals fit right into Dychtwald's vision, he says, as such breaks can boost factors like productivity and employee satisfaction.

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"People just get tired of the grind. What they're wanting is more flexibility, and particularly more time for leisure. So be open to carving out more flexible work arrangements, and maybe even more part-time assignments in order to retain great talent and capability."

Dychtwald is an entrepreneur, public speaker and best-selling co-author of several books, including the most recent The Power Years: A User's Guide to the Rest of Your Life and Workforce Crisis: How to Beat the Coming Shortage of Skills and Talent. He is the founding president and CEO of San Francisco-based Age Wave, a firm created to guide Fortune 500 companies and government groups in product and service development for baby boomers and mature adults.

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