News & Insights

Age is just a date on the Calendar - Managing Transitions

Dr Mark Pegg returns in his second blog which discusses members transition to retirement and how to support them.

Author: Dr Mark Pegg, Director, Chalfont Associates

Religious leaders often joke they are involved in all the major events in human life – ‘hatching, matching and despatching’. They should add ‘transitioning’ to their list – that difficult time of life when members move from work into retirement. It is incredibly complex these days. This really matters: an ageing UK population with 285 people aged 65 and over for every 1,000 people aged 18- 65, more and more people are enjoying long active lives. The nature of work is changing: single employer members are getting rarer and portfolio careers; part time work or self-employed consultancy are the new norm. With defined contribution pensions and later state pension ages, the date of entry to the third age is highly dynamic and moveable.

What help do members need at this time? What help should they look for to get them through this transitioning process, make more informed decisions, take more purposeful steps to retirement, gain a clearer focus and enjoy a richer experience in the ‘third age’? Can membership organisations provide the right connections they need in this transition?

Some members admittedly want out altogether. They wonder how they found the time to go to work with so many home, family, travel, hobbies and volunteering opportunities to fill their day. But most members won’t want an abrupt break and prefer a managed process to stay in touch socially, professionally and financially with the world of work.

Psychologically, they have a deep human need to stay in touch with others and the direction their profession is heading. They want to maintain a continuing interest in live issues without the intensity of challenge and responsibility they are leaving behind. Many report how quickly they miss the social part of work. This is a gap membership organisations can help to fill, where work colleagues are now free to be friends and there is an opportunity to have active community of fulfilling relationships to enjoy. John who lives in rural Devon says, ‘I’m online every day and like to read membership news regularly. I’m still a passionate, not always uncritical, advocate for the work fellow members do and it really helps me stay in touch.’

Many members care deeply about the next generation and can offer deep professional knowledge and experience – maybe even a little wisdom – through coaching, mentoring, lecturing, writing and online advice. Mark from Amersham says, ‘I now work from home but want to put something back and like staying in touch to offer my help as a mentor and coach other members.’ Members can self-help, but much easier for them if there is good access to the right connections for mutual benefit.

At a practical level, almost half of over 55s in the UK believe they will work past retirement age. Women in particular have seen a sharp rise in the age they receive a state pension. As Jane in Derby says, ‘I’m one of the WASPI women (Women against The State Pension Increase) and like many others, I’m pretty angry about it and need cool, calm advice on the best way of managing this change in my expectations.’

No member will want the same thing from transitioning and will look for a menu of options to choose from:

  • A transitioning service – information, advice with hot links that help members research the key issues and challenges – financial security, age discrimination, the work choices available. Most will not give up altogether but will want a change of jobs, go part time, move to self-employed status, become consultants – they may want help to choose from a portfolio of paid and voluntary work;
  • Provide a coaching and mentoring resource for members – advice on how to do it, offer an accredited list with a contact service where those with skills can be put in touch with members seeking help and advice;
  • Directions to interesting resources offering advice on health, well-being, lifestyle, exercise and travel plans;
  • Provide links to further study - mental fitness – learning and development options – for example to online learning, Open University, University of the Third Age and many others;
  • A retired member package – different fees and status – with fellowships, companionships, events, social networks: Twitter, Linkedin, WhatsApp etc etc that helps keep friends in touch.

 

Getting this right for membership organisations is vital. Age is just a date in the calendar, members are active and healthier and are working for longer. There is huge potential out there - so much energy, creativity and innovation to tap into, grounded in knowledge and experience.

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