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Is Flex-tirement the New Retirement?

Is Flex-tirement the New Retirement?

My father is 66 years old. Over the last forty years, he has worked in both Corporate America and academia, and his identity is closely tied to his job. How could it not be? He has spent the better part of his life commuting from one office to another, and he’s somewhat of a workaholic.

The original plan was for my dad to retire at age 66, but now that it’s here, the idea seems preposterous. He has lost money in the recession, and like many Baby Boomers, the thought of moving down to Florida to play tennis and mah jong all day makes him a little ill. My dad wants and needs to keep working, but he knows a 50 hour a week job is putting his health in jeopardy. What’s a Boomer to do?

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Finding a middle ground

My father’s situation is not unique. As tens of millions of Boomers approach traditional retirement age, organizations must contend with how to downsize valuable employees without completely cutting the cord. Enter the notion of flex-tirement.

Hard as it may be to believe in today’s market, we are actually on the cusp of a demographically-induced labor shortage that will leave organizations with far more green employees than seasoned ones. Smart companies know that it’s wise to use flex-tirement to hold on to experienced employees so they can effectively train and transition the younger generation into leadership roles. In an ideal scenario, a company would allow a fifty or sixty-something employee to keep the same job, which they enjoy and are good at, with reduced hours and pay.

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No longer an ex-president’s benefit

If you think about it, flex-tirement has been available to some types for a while. For former presidents or CEOs, “retirement” often equals plum consulting jobs and advisory board service. But increasingly, such opportunities are presenting themselves to average people too.

Even the government is on board with the idea. Says Camille Tuutti in Federal Computer Week:  “The Obama administration has acknowledged the potential of flexible retention. Its 2013 budget for the Office of Personnel Management included a proposal that would allow eligible employees to reduce their work hours at the end of their careers and receive income partially from a reduced salary and partially from retirement annuity. These employees would be required to mentor others, sharing institutional knowledge and helping with succession planning.”

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Make them want to retain you

So, if you’re a Boomer who wants to continue to work while enjoying some of the benefits of retirement, how should you position yourself? Your first goal is to make sure you are someone worth keeping. This means staying current in your job-specific training and skills and being at the top of your game productivity-wise. It also means going out of your way to showcase your value and results to the higher-ups and getting them to say, “Wow, losing Buddy Boomer is going to be a real problem. Who is going to do Task A, B, and C?”

Boomers who haven’t kept up with technology need to get with the program. You don’t want to be considered irrelevant because you don’t understand how business operates in a highly networked, highly virtual world. In addition, it’s imperative that flex-tirement-minded Boomers retain enthusiasm and passion for the job.  An employer is not likely to offer you a desirable part-time arrangement if they feel your heart and mind are touring a castle somewhere in Europe.

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Finally, be willing to chart the course. Remember that flex-tirement is new territory for many employers, and as such, formal policies and procedures might not yet exist. You should be prepared to use your well-honed negotiation and persuasion skills to obtain a situation that’s right for you.

(Photo credit: Retirement Savings via Shutterstock)

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Last Updated on April 8, 2020

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Why Assuming Positive Intent Is an Amazing Productivity Driver

Assuming positive intent is an important contributor to quality of life.

Most people appreciate the dividends such a mindset produces in the realm of relationships. How can relationships flourish when you don’t assume intentions that may or may not be there? And how their partner can become an easier person to be around as a result of such a shift? Less appreciated in the GTD world, however, is the productivity aspect of this “assume positive intent” perspective.

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Most of us are guilty of letting our minds get distracted, our energy sapped, or our harmony compromised by thinking about what others woulda, coulda, shoulda.  How we got wronged by someone else.  How a friend could have been more respectful.  How a family member could have been less selfish.

However, once we evolve to understanding the folly of this mindset, we feel freer and we become more productive professionally due to the minimization of unhelpful, distracting thoughts.

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The leap happens when we realize two things:

  1. The self serving benefit from giving others the benefit of the doubt.
  2. The logic inherent in the assumption that others either have many things going on in their lives paving the way for misunderstandings.

Needless to say, this mindset does not mean that we ought to not confront people that are creating havoc in our world.  There are times when we need to call someone out for inflicting harm in our personal lives or the lives of others.

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Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of Pepsi, says it best in an interview with Fortune magazine:

My father was an absolutely wonderful human being. From ecent emailhim I learned to always assume positive intent. Whatever anybody says or does, assume positive intent. You will be amazed at how your whole approach to a person or problem becomes very different. When you assume negative intent, you’re angry. If you take away that anger and assume positive intent, you will be amazed. Your emotional quotient goes up because you are no longer almost random in your response. You don’t get defensive. You don’t scream. You are trying to understand and listen because at your basic core you are saying, ‘Maybe they are saying something to me that I’m not hearing.’ So ‘assume positive intent’ has been a huge piece of advice for me.

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In business, sometimes in the heat of the moment, people say things. You can either misconstrue what they’re saying and assume they are trying to put you down, or you can say, ‘Wait a minute. Let me really get behind what they are saying to understand whether they’re reacting because they’re hurt, upset, confused, or they don’t understand what it is I’ve asked them to do.’ If you react from a negative perspective – because you didn’t like the way they reacted – then it just becomes two negatives fighting each other. But when you assume positive intent, I think often what happens is the other person says, ‘Hey, wait a minute, maybe I’m wrong in reacting the way I do because this person is really making an effort.

“Assume positive intent” is definitely a top quality of life’s best practice among the people I have met so far. The reasons are obvious. It will make you feel better, your relationships will thrive and it’s an approach more greatly aligned with reality.  But less understood is how such a shift in mindset brings your professional game to a different level.

Not only does such a shift make you more likable to your colleagues, but it also unleashes your talents further through a more focused, less distracted mind.

More Tips About Building Positive Relationships

Featured photo credit: Christina @ wocintechchat.com via unsplash.com

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