The 3 pathways which dictate how well you’ll adapt to retirement

18 December 2017

People are retiring very differently in today’s world. It’s no longer a case of someone reaching 65, being given a gold watch and spending the rest of their days pottering in the garden, learning a new hobby or looking after grandchildren.

Instead, current retirement trends include transitioning from full-time to part-time work or finding bridge employment, such as volunteering. However, many people “un-retire” and re-enter the workforce, usually due to boredom or financial considerations.

While this highlights the need for good pre-retirement financial planning, it also shows the need for good social and mental health pre-retirement planning. Organisational psychologist Dr Sarah Cotton, from Transitioning Well which helps manage major life changes, says people experience a lot of changes in retirement.

“Often what people think will happen in retirement can be very different to what really happens, and it’s important to plan for that,” Dr Cotton says.


In 2006, two researchers, Leo Hendry and Marion Kloep, found there were three distinct retirement pathways. These three pathways generally dictate how well someone adapts to this big life change. Dr Cotton says employers can learn a lot from their research, particularly in how to better prepare people for retirement.


The retirement pathways include:

1. Outside of work there is not much to live for

This retiree group showed signs of high distress, reporting a range of debilitating experiences, such as health problems, family tragedies and a lack of skills or hobbies. Their problems didn’t stem from retirement itself but also a number of life negative experiences and events.

Dr Cotton says it shows the importance of helping employees with pre-retirement planning.

“There was no planning for retirement at all. It was “I’m here, what now?” planning.”


2. Work as a lifestyle

This group has their identity wrapped up in work, including their interests and social networks, and find it hard to retire due to a lack of factors pulling them towards it.

They also find it hard to adjust to retirement due to a perceived loss of social status or identity. Employers can encourage their employees to find these “pull” factors, including wanting to spend time with family and friends, travelling or pursue interests and hobbies.


3. There is life beyond work

This retirement pathway is the one most people follow. They usually have a wide range of interests, hobbies and social networks established and a positive outlook about their retirement. Previously retired employees can be used as positive retirement role models for staff about to make the transition.


For more on how to prepare your employees for retirement, visit here.


This article was featured in our monthly e-Newsletter SuperFriend News which provides practical advice for employers to guide them in creating positive, cohesive and productive environments for all employees.