Much has been made about the fact that the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) is now starting to retire. Boomers are now ages 49-67. Combine this with the facts that this generation was characterized by a high birth rate and our life expectancy is longer, and you have a formula for retirements that may last three decades or more.
Many employers across the United States are responding to this challenge in several ways. Some realize that they will suffer a “brain drain” of experience-based knowledge, and are offering a part-time work option. Some, including my employer, are offering incentives for people who qualify for retirement based on various age-plus-years-of-service formulas, to go ahead and retire early. They realize, correctly, that some of us are just hanging on a few more years in order to reach age 59 ½, when we can start tapping into retirement savings, 62, when we can start collecting social security, or 65, when we qualify for Medicare. (These are U.S. milestones; programs differ in other countries.)
To sweeten the incentive, my company has also engaged with Encore.org, whose purpose is to encourage people to have “encore” careers – second careers that generally involve civic involvement and non-profit work. Their web site waxes excitedly about “inventing a new stage of life and work – the encore years – between the end of midlife and anything resembling old-fashioned retirement.” Their goal is to “build a movement aimed at making it easier for millions to pursue second acts for the greater good.” Their motto is “Encore careers – purpose, passion and a paycheck in your second act.”