The Retirement Series is exploring attitudes towards retirement, how prepared Australians are for it and other insights from research gathered by AMP.
By Rod Finch
It’s usually as teenagers that we decide to get a job for some extra pocket money. Not when we’ve retired and already spent a lifetime at work.
Yet, with the qualifying age for the Australian pension increasing from 65 to 67 years by 1 July 2023, and Australians generally living longer, well into their 80’s, the prospect of continuing work into our older years is a real one. Already we’ve seen the participation of older Australians in the workforce increase from 32.7 per cent in 1979 to 54 per cent in 2014.
Two of the most commonly reported reasons for retired people over 45 years of age returning to work are financial need (42 per cent) and feeling bored and/or needing something to do (32 per cent).
The more we at AMP have explored how to help Australians prepare for, and enjoy, retirement, the more passionate we have become about the idea of keeping older Australians in the workforce. Not slogging it out, but in a way that suits them.
Why? Because they have so much knowledge and experience to offer. And, crucially, because working is good for your wellbeing. The World Happiness Report suggests that employed people evaluate the quality of their lives much more highly on average than their unemployed counterparts.
Similarly, a briefing paper by UK organisation, What Works Centre for Wellbeing, also suggests wellbeing is higher for those who ‘wind-down’ into retirement through bridging jobs.
It’s the wealth of evidence like this that led AMP to encourage its insurance case managers to be creative when helping people with their recovery, because getting people back into their routine, including work, after injury can help them recover faster.
Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as wanting to work into retirement.
Unfortunately for older Australians, challenges like age discrimination and poor health can be barriers to finding meaningful employment later in life. They can also have a significant impact on how happy someone’s move into retirement is, especially if it means the decision of when to retire is no longer theirs to make.
So, what’s the answer for people approaching retirement age who feel they have more to offer the workforce and are keen to supplement their pension and lifestyle? Like anything in life, good planning and a little creative thinking can help. Work in retirement doesn’t need to be an item on your CV; instead of thinking in terms of professional advancement, it may make sense to look more at the enjoyment, fulfilment and flexibility it can offer.
Rod Finch is AMP's Director Strategic Marketing and Customer Experience.
 AMP.NATSEM, Going the distance…working longer, living healthier, June 2015, page 3
 AMP.NATSEM, Going the distance…working longer, living healthier, June 2015, page 7
 Australian Bureau of Statistics, 6238.0 – Retirement and Retirement Intentions, Australia, July 2016 to June 2017, paragraph 15
 United Nations, World Happiness Report, 20 March 2017, page 146
 What works wellbeing, Retirement and wellbeing, February 2017, page 2