Retirees care about feeling relevant

17 May 2018 By Victoria Tomlinson

Retirees care about feeling relevant image

Retirees care more about feeling relevant than golf or grandchildren, according to new research.

Two thirds of retirees want to ‘feel useful and relevant’ and retired over-55s are motivated by purpose not status or money. These are the findings from new research commissioned by Next-Up, an online membership platform which helps individuals find paid and unpaid roles in ‘unretirement’.

Retire? What’s that word?

Forty two per cent of retirees over 55 agree with Dame Judi Dench (83), who famously said, “Retire? What’s that word?”, sharing her view that retirement is an outdated concept.

Like Dame Judi, almost a third (32%) want to continue to use their skills in retirement and 35% have apprehension or concerns around losing their identity.

For the over 55s, it seems a sense of purpose and feeling useful is far more important than status and earning money. For many, retirement means much more than golf and grandchildren.

Among those already retired, 66% agree that ‘feeling useful and relevant’ matters to them, with 60% believing ‘having a purpose’ is important. Only seven per cent say that status is important in retirement and just 15% of retired people say earning money matters to them.

Fulfilling roles after working life

“These days people often work into their 70s and 80s,” says Victoria Tomlinson, CEO of Next-Up.

“The challenge is how you find new, fulfilling roles once you have left working life. The research shows that many of those ‘retired’ would like to be involved in more activities than they are currently – particularly areas such as non-executive directorships, consultancy, helping schools and mentoring.”

Though almost a third (31%) of those retired keep themselves busy with activities that use their skills, 45% would like to be doing more. Helping charities as a trustee or with projects tops the list (13%) followed by volunteering (12%) and coaching or mentoring (10%).

Of these, 25% have not been able to use their skills, either because they do not know how or have offered their skills without much success.

Mixing fun and purpose

After stepping down from a high-powered career as a company director Bernadette Byrne agrees with those polled. She now combines consultancy work with a non-executive director role and is planning to launch her own business. Byrne says:

“Leaving a career is simply finishing one stage of your life. You could have 30 more years – so what are you going to do? You have so much experience and now is the time to capitalise on that and achieve the balance that was completely unachievable in full-time work. You can play, have fun and still have a meaningful and purposeful life.”

Tomlinson set up Next-Up – an online membership platform – in May 2018, following months of intensive research into the market, including interviews with senior business figures who plan to carry on working in ‘unretirement’. Through webinars, events, guides and videos, community groups, coaching and practical support, members are helped with ideas, skills and creating a plan. This includes finding organisations that need their expertise – from charity projects to start-up businesses and business schools; starting a business or becoming a consultant;
finding speaking opportunities; and much more.

Author Image

Written by Victoria Tomlinson

Victoria Tomlinson is chief executive and founder of Next-Up. Next-Up supports employers with a range of services for directors, partners and employees to help them understand the impact of retirement on mental health and create a plan to use their skills and experience in new ways to ensure wellbeing. A key part of our role is to inspire people with ideas and contacts, beyond traditional expectations. A former director of EY, she is an international speaker on unretirement, personal branding and using LinkedIn strategically as well as on leadership and women on boards. She mentors chief executives and directors, start-up businesses and ex-offenders. Victoria is Honorary Teaching Fellow at Lancaster University and chaired an advisory board for University of Leeds.

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