CEOs plan late retirement

Love of the job and financial concerns will keep people on the job longer
By Shannon Klie
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 11/20/2006

Canadian CEOs like their jobs too much, and derive too much meaning from them, to retire any time soon, according to a new survey.

The poll of 150 chief executives and business leaders, conducted by Toronto-based opinion and research company Compas, found only 44 per cent of top executives plan to retire by age 65, while about one-quarter will keep working full time and one-third prefer semi-retirement.

The sense of achievement work provides, the enjoyment of the job and the job’s financial rewards are the top three reasons for postponing retirement, according to the study

The Healthiest Old People in History: Retirement Aversion and Retirement Anticipation


“They obviously get a lot of meaning from their work and that’s not a reason to quit,” said Conrad Winn, president of Compas.

This trend to stay on the job longer is going to grow across the country, according to a spokesman for CARP, Canada’s association for people over the age of 50. Many older workers would stay on the job if they had reduced work weeks or had new roles such as that of coach or mentor, said Bill Gleberzon, director of government relations for CARP.

“Older people now are living much longer and much healthier and active lives,” said Gleberzon. “As much as employers can accommodate that kind of lifestyle of people wanting to be active, wanting to have more time and still wanting to work, then I think everyone is going to benefit.”

A Statistics Canada study,

Post-Retirement Employment

, based on the

2002 General Social Survey

, found 22 per cent of people who retired between 1992 and 2002 at the age of 50 or older went back to work. Of those workers, 55 per cent said they did so because they did not like retirement, they found the work intrinsically rewarding or because they felt needed.

But not all older workers keep working because they enjoy their jobs. Many do so because they can’t afford to retire, said Gleberzon.

“We forget that not all the baby boomers are wealthy. A lot of them, especially women, work part time and you can’t build up a lot of retirement income if you’re working that way,” he said. “It’s tough nowadays. The cost of living is so high.”

According to the

2002 General Social Survey

, 38 per cent of people who returned to work after retirement did so because of financial concerns.

Many older workers feel insecure about their ability to maintain their standard of living in retirement, according to

New Frontiers of Research on Retirement

, a Statistics Canada book released earlier this year.

The book found declining stock prices after the dot-com bust pushed many pension plans into deficits, undermining the value of individual retirement savings. With Canadians living longer and the sheer size of the baby boomer generation, there’s an added pressure on pension plan funding to pay benefits for longer than expected periods and to a greater number of individuals.

But just because older workers want or need to stay on the job doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to do so. Ageist attitudes that older workers can’t or don’t want to learn new skills still exist in the workplace, said Gleberzon.

“The way people learn might be different, because what you’re doing is teaching people who have a lot of skills and experience,” he said. “You can’t teach adults the way you teach kids. The bottom line is that people are capable and want to learn new things.”

Employers need to do what they can to help older workers who want to keep working. In 20 years, one-quarter of Canadians will be over the age of 65 and if they all retire, they’ll take their knowledge and skills with them, said Gleberzon.

“We’re not going to have enough human resources to replace older workers and we’re not going to have the machinery, the technology, to make the difference,” he said.

Ageism in Canada

Older workers face discrimination

Almost 64 per cent of those 55 and older believe they have been discriminated against because of their age when applying for work in the past five years, according to a recent survey of 10,000 Canadians. Also, 28 per cent of workers 45 and older said they were victims of age discrimination.

But it’s not only older workers in Canada who face prejudice in the workplace — 22 per cent of respondents 24 years and younger said they were discriminated against because of their age. The survey, conducted by temporary staffing firm Kelly Services, polled 70,000 people in 28 countries.

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