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One of the most significant decisions American workers must contend with is when (or whether) to retire from their jobs. Traditionally, retirement happens on a planned date of separation from a job. But what if you could retire in stages? Commonly referred to as Phased Retirement, this approach to separating from your job or career is becoming more common.

Phased Retirement involves such changes as working fewer hours, or only working certain days, or even working part-time on site and part-time from home. For the worker, the advantage is being able to continue their job, often with less stress or pressure. For the company, the benefit of allowing an employee a phased retirement is retaining good employees and the collective experience and knowledge of those who have been in the industry for a long time.

There are practical reasons that phased retirement has come about in the American cultures. First, a majority of American workers report they have not saved enough money to fully retire, so retiring in phases allows them to continue generating income, often while receiving Social Security benefits. Further, healthcare has advanced to the point that people at the traditional retirement age of 65 often feel great physically and mentally, and do not want to stop working.

In 2017, the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies surveyed 1802 employers about their views of employee retirement. Four out of 5, or 81 percent agreed with the statement, “My company is supportive of its employees working past 65,” including 41 percent that “strongly agree” and 40 percent that “somewhat agree.” Level of overall agreement was fairly consistent across company sizes.

More often today, companies do not state a mandatory retirement age in their employee guidelines. Many employers have a more progressive perception of their employees’ retirement plans. The Transamerica study revealed that almost half of employers (47 percent) say that many of their employees envision a phased transition that involves reducing hours (33 percent) and/or working in a different capacity (27 percent). Forty-four percent believe that many employees envision working as long as possible in their current or similar position until they cannot work anymore.

Unfortunately, even companies that might agree to a phased retirement usually do not have any formal such plans that are offered to their employees. It is generally up to the employee to suggest a plan. The best way to approach this might be to draw up a job description that you can submit to the employer. The document should be as specific as possible, including preferred hours and days you wish to work, and a short narrative on the advantages this might pose for the company. Negotiating this type of partial exit may take some time and persuasion on your part, but in the end both you and your employer might reap the benefits of keeping you on board, even in a lesser capacity.

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