Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Retirement Options Are Changing for the 50 plus Employee

English: Mexican businessman Carlos Slim HelĂș....
 Mexican businessman Carlos Slim (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Billionaire Carlos Slim said that boosting the retirement age to 70 would help to prop up the world’s struggling economies, according to a Mexican press report, cited by Forbes. He says the current retirement age was selected because at that time people worked more physical jobs.

Slim suggested the cure for our economic ills would be raising the retirement age in all countries to 70 thus taking the pressure off budget shortfalls. But for half of all Americans the idea is moot because they do not have the resources for retirement even with Social Security helping.

The normal job tradition of retirement at 65 is obsolete. So you must make sure you are a valuable asset to your employer so you can keep on working. One way to increase your value is continued education. You should consider going back to school but if you cannot attend day classes then an online line degree is your other option. There are online mba degrees that can provide you with the necessary education.

In the 1930's the age of eligibility for Social Security was 65 while the life expectancy was just under 60. Social Security was essentially old age insurance if you outlived your useful working years. Today the life expectancy is close to 73 and the eligibility age is 67.

In my own situation I also do not have enough saved for a retirement at 65 years old. The perfect storm of a divorce, 3 in college, and a 25% cut in business income have blessed me with working well into my seventies. Luckily, I'm fine with this future but what's OK for me is a real damper for others who were counting on retiring at 65 or earlier.

How will a company react to having mostly older employees? Just because an employee is older, does business have the right to judge your overall capacity to perform your job? In today's economy, business should integrate up to date policies concerning older workers. If a good employee has served a company well, their knowledge and experience must be utilized for training or supervising new blood that’s joining the team.

Society is used to having the old replaced with the new. Not because it's better but because there is a perception of improvement. But, new blood in a company can be good for the vitality and growth potential needs. Separately, they each can contribute something good, but together they offer a sum greater than the parts.

Being a valuable employee is hard work. Ask yourself, would you hire you? If the answer is no, maybe it's time to evaluate things. Here's a list of tips to consider:

1. Further your education. Just because you over 50, why do you think you think you shouldn't have continuing education? Your younger team members have more recent educational opportunities. These are the people you’re competing with for your job security. You may be knowledgeable but many employers look at youth and energy as positive attributes. Make sure you are staying up to date education wise. It couldn't hurt to take some online courses and maybe add a degree to your resume. When you are continually trying to better yourself you stay sharper and it shows the team leader you are trying to make yourself a more valuable asset to the organization.

2. Enhance your critical skills. Having a handle on your time management skills make you an asset to an organization. Being an organized team member by planning your days and weeks by priorities will give you peace of mind and allow you to have your goal on a clear track. Continued education with a masters degree organizational leadership could support this goal. A life in order will benefit you and your work production. Having good organization skills will be noticed by the organization.

3. Network outside of your company. Networking with people in other companies in your industry will keep you connected and it will benefit you and your company. Do not just network at your level; seek others above and below your level. Join clubs and organizations. Volunteer wherever you can make an impact. You will be enhancing yourself and showing the public that your company cares and wants to give back to the community.

4. Cultivate your work ethic. It may be a shocking thing to do but showing up on time for work and staying a full day is a radical thing to do in a company. Caring about your job and maybe coming in to work early and staying later will get you noticed by your boss. Start this habit and at least do it once a week. You will get noticed and if the day ever comes when your boss has to fire someone, the person giving a 150% to the company will not be at the top of the list.

5. Learn a new language. If your company deals with companies that are global, a foreign language will make you more valuable. Learn a language of a country your company deals with. When the day comes a translator is need you will be ready. When a promotion comes where a foreign language is needed you will be the top choice for it.

Its common sense that a company is going to only keep employees that are producing and an asset to increasing the bottom line. If you are contributing to that, then you are a valuable commodity to the company and you will have your job for a long time.


  1. Dave an excellent post, I agree with all of the points you mentioned.

    1. Thanks Roger. It bothers me that folks in their 50's and 60's are getting hurt the most in today's economy. I saw a friend today, who's in the mortgage business, he tells me things are picking up. It's still slow going in South Florida.

      If it weren't for such low interest rates he wouldn't have much of a business. He's 65 with a the responsibility of taking care of a 95 year old mother, a wife, and a 35 year old son who is not to ambitious.

      People our age are taking the brunt of this economy.

  2. Staying knowledgeable on current technology and means of communicating (e.g., social media) is the most challenging aspect I think of staying valuable as an employee. Also, the reality is age-ism exists. Though it's surely superficial, to stay employable into one's 60s I think it's important to stay in shape, avoid reminiscing about 'the old days,' and generally present as youthful appearance as possible.

  3. That's some good points. Sure, looking well kept, dapper, and well dressed has a lot to with how you are perceived. We tend to let ourselves go as we age. But it's only half the battle. Staying relevant and maintaining your energy level and ambition like when we were young will also help.


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