Buck Bond Group

What Happens Next: Total Wellbeing after Retirement

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We all know that there is more to being “well” than being physically healthy: having a sense of purpose, being financially fit and having strong social ties and a meaningful connection to the communities within which we spend our time are all pillars of our wellbeing.[1] And increasingly, there is recognition that for much of our lives, the workplace can be the foundation these pillars are built upon, providing people with the tools to be well throughout their careers.

So what happens when individuals retire?

In the April 2017 issue of Workspan, we (Lori Block and Alan Vorchheimer) teamed up to explain how employers can use the five pillars to create value and increase wellbeing for employees during their working years and after they retire. 

Take for instance a recent retiree. With extended lifespans, his or her retirement may last 20-30 years. The retiree must adjust to a number of new realities in order to live “well” during this final, and often extended phase of life:

  • Professionally, there is no longer a need for their expertise or a workplace to go to.
  • Socially, the daily interaction with co-workers and others that did fill many of their waking hours is gone.
  • Financially, the paychecks have stopped coming and earning gives way to more careful spending.
  • Physically, ailments become more commonplace and a reliance on company-sponsored healthcare will have to change.
  • Community ties, which for many are closely linked to their job through volunteer opportunities or professional organizations, must be reestablished.

If individuals are to live a “totally well” life in their retirement years, it’s critical they find a way to maintain a sense of total wellbeing. Fortunately, employers are starting to consider how they can prepare their employees for a totally well retirement.

The key lies in employers looking at those five pillars and seeing the opportunity that exists to create value for employees before and after they retire. By taking the five-pillar concept, and overlaying the concept of companies taking a leadership role in wellbeing, you have some ideas on how employers can (and in some cases are) doing just that:

  • Professional Wellbeing: A strategy like phased retirement can help employers and employees alike ease into the individual’s retirement
  • Social Wellbeing: With workforces being more multi-generational the opportunity exists to create social bonds through “reverse mentoring,” with younger employees helping those closer to retirement understand new technology, new industry trends or other skills.
  • Financial Wellbeing: Studies show that employees who are given the financial planning tools to help plan and manage for retirement are happier, more productive and more engaged. Many companies now offer access to 3rd party vendors, voluntary benefits and other programs employees can carry into retirement.
  • Physical Wellbeing: Like financial wellbeing, physical wellbeing results in happier, more productive employees. More and more companies are offering employees ways to improve their physical wellbeing, and for retirees, many of those companies are providing access to resources into retirement.
  • Community Wellbeing: With retirements getting longer, people often seek to find second careers in areas they are passionate about. Some companies – as noted in this recent NPR story – are helping facilitate that transition by giving mid-career and retirees assistance transitioning from higher-paying positions to non-profit organizations without worry of financial stress.

It is our hope that as employers recognize the mutual benefits of overall employee wellbeing, they will create opportunities to help employees throughout their employment lifecycle.

Editor’s Note: Lori Block and Alan Vorchheimer wrote ‘How to Help Employees Ease into Retirement’ for the April 2017 issue of Workspan. You can read the entire article here.

[1] Based on the five elements of wellbeing as measured by Gallup.