POST-RETIREMENT, EXTENDED PERIOD OF LEISURE IS NOT THE CHOICE OF MANY

The day we retire we get all kinds of messages. Many would say they will miss us. Many would convey, being no-longer useful, it was high time we retired. For us, it is time to take well-deserved rest after so many years of hard work. Soon retirement changes our attitude towards ourselves, as well as others. It begins to affect our identity and relationships. Financial and health concerns are the major deciders of retirement/re-employment decisions. Several other behavioural factors influence retirement decisions. The circumstances of retirement and the way people see it has changed over the years. In the ’40s retirement was seen as rest, by the 70’s it had become a reward, and by the ’80s leisure became the predominant choice. In the present time, the idea of ‘extended period of leisure’ is not the choice of many. People want to practice ‘active ageing’, and that is possible, thanks to healthier lifestyles and new opportunities. How we want to spend our time post-retirement is a personal choice. Some of us want to extend our work life. Some of us want to be with our family and friends. Some of us want to nurture our hitherto neglected relationships. Some of us want to go for higher education. Some of us like to pursue other interests that could not be pursued earlier, due to various reasons. Some of us like to enjoy a permanent vacation. Retirement can take many forms. Some want to discover new roles and identities. Some want to stay connected with whatever they were doing. Some assume new roles and responsibilities in their area of expertise. Some start new activities or learn new skills. Some do not want to follow any schedule and like to flow with the time. Some don’t expect much to happen. They like to retreat and take shelter into a shell of their own creation. Some end their working life long before they have actually retired. Some take a positive view of retirement. It allows them to rebuild relationships, especially with the children. Majority of people want to work beyond their retirement age. They don’t like mandatory withdrawal from their workplace, on the grounds of age. They say that the concept of retirement must retire. So long they are healthy and able they want to remain active in a pursuit they enjoy doing. People also want to work to remain fit, both physically and mentally. For some it is an opportunity to fulfil their spiritual aspirations; they want to do something meaningful for themselves and society. There is universal support for the idea that a person’s desire and ability to work should determine when one should retire. In the advanced economies, an individual’s desire to work is more important, whereas in transitional economies it is the ability which is considered more important. Continuing to work is a question of choice for some, but a necessity for many others. Financial necessity is one of the biggest reasons for the continuation of work. Retirement was traditionally thought 'as discrete and abrupt discontinuation of paid employment.' Now retirement is looked at differently. Very few people seem to enjoy 'full leisure retirement'. Nature of retirement is also changing. Rules of work opportunities on the second phase of work are for obvious reasons flexible. Flexibility also brings discontent. The shifting demographic trends have posed unique challenges to matters related to retirement. There are corresponding rising costs associated with the ageing population. The International Journal of Manpower brought out a special issue - Introduction to the changing nature of retirement: an international perspective. The journal makes the following observations: (1) Attitude towards people at work determines attitude towards work, that in turn determines age and life perceptions, that determines perceived control, and that controls social policy influences, and finally, social policy influences influence retirement intentions. (2) High workload, heavy physical work, and lack of challenge leads to burnout in the job, and impacts retirement intentions, leading to early retirement. (3) Paternalistic perception towards older employees is one thing, valuing their expertise is another, keeping in view operational overheads.

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© 2017 by Dr Purnendu Ghosh