“Gradual retirement” goal of many Canadian workers

While companies strategize on how to manage the increasing loss of baby boomers, you could ease the pressure on your company by facilitating gradual retirement.

“Gradual retirement” goal of many Canadian workers

The potential for mass retirement as baby boomers hit their 60s is a major headache for HR, but a recent survey offers a ray of hope: it seems most Canadians aren’t expecting to just walk away from their job when they hit the right age.

Two-thirds (66%) of those aged 40 to 64 said they planned to transition slowly into retirement, rather than stopping work suddenly, according to a Desjardins Insurance survey of 2,037 Canadians.

"The traditional notion of retirement — of packing up your office at the end of your last day and completely changing your life — is ending," said Angela Iermieri, financial planner at Desjardins Group. "Smart organizations will support this change in their workplaces to help address the huge pressures that will be created as baby boomers make this shift."

Facilitating gradual retirement will have benefits for everyone in the coming decade, she said.

"Supporting the most experienced, knowledgeable staff to remain in the workforce in a transitional way allows employers to take advantage of their strengths, while they mentor younger workers who bring new skills and energy. Demographic patterns will soon create a critical shortage of experienced workers that transitional retirement can help address."

More than one-half of respondents who planned to retire abruptly felt gradual retirement would not be an option for them. When asked how their employers could do to help them to transition into retirement, respondents suggested continued health benefits were a critical incentive. Other important incentives included:

  • an interesting offer in terms of tasks, workplace and team
  • a less demanding position
  • a better salary
  • new challenges.

Some Canadian companies have already noticed the trend, and are making sure their workers have options available.

BMO Financial Group offered many of their mature workers the ability to transition smoothly and slowly into retirement by working part-time, often taking on a mentoring role with upcoming employees. It’s often a combination of financial reasons and the desire to ease their way into full-time retirement.

“Individuals want to work longer and they’re fully engaged and committed. Why wouldn’t we want to benefit from that?” BMO chief talent officer Lynn Roger said.

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