Retirement: it’s not a finishing line

Is the distinction between working and retirement becoming blurred?

Once upon a time, there was a very clear dividing line between the world of work and the world of retirement. After a lifetime of putting in 40 hours a week – quite possibly for the same employer – you slipped quietly off into the sunset at the age you became eligible for state pension, bearing the parting gift of a carriage clock and your boss’s best wishes. Or at least this was the norm.

But now, nothing is quite so clear cut. The Default Retirement Age is a thing of the past, as state pension provides a lesser proportion of retirement income for more and more people. Equally, the way we work has changed. Part-time work, working from home and reliance on multiple income sources are all more prevalent now  than in decades gone by – and this working pattern offers more scope for the gradual reduction of working hours, rather than the set cut-off point of the ‘job for life’ era.

“I can’t afford to retire”

Many people, of course, may simply feel that they cannot afford to retire at the age they originally intended to. But there are many reasons why people choose to go on doing some work after leaving their main employment – and it could be argued that for some, retirement offers the opportunity to continue with the more fulfilling aspects of work while abandoning the less satisfying parts.

Aviva’s Voice of New Retirement report compared the attitudes and experiences of people who have retired to those of others still working. It uncovered some interesting statistics on the attitudes and level of contentment of people who continue to work beyond their traditional retirement age. The findings suggest that this is by no means always a choice which is driven by financial necessity.  

It’s not about the money

  • Once people retire, money is no longer seen as the most important aspect of their working life: among those who say they miss work, just 43% identify money as an aspect they miss most.
  • Retirees who work are far more content and fulfilled with the work they do than the unretired. 
  • More than one in three (36%) ‘retirees’ who still do paid or unpaid work find it more fulfilling than their earlier career.
  • An entrepreneurial spirit among future retirees means one in five (20%) retirement work plans involve them setting up their own business.
  • People also think money is the most likely factor to keep them working in retirement – but retirees who work are more motivated by feeling challenged and fulfilled.
  • More than two in three (67%) retirees identify friends and colleagues as an aspect of work they miss more than any other.

How fulfilling is work in retirement?

Aviva’s findings suggest people’s happiness at work is far higher in retirement than during their pre-retirement career. Maybe one final statistic is the most telling of all:

Among those who do paid or unpaid work, 78% of people who consider themselves ‘retired’ feel fulfilled with their current job and general working life – far higher than the 47% of unretired people who say the same.

So, far from being a finishing line, it seems that retirement can be the starting gate to what could be – paradoxically – the most fulfilling part of your ‘working’ life.


Source: Aviva Voice of New Retirement report, March 2016


AR01639  03/2016

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