Sirpa Taskinen, PhD and psychologist, goes on to explain:
An employer loses skills and networks when an employee retires. Both employer and employee should start preparing for retirement a couple of years before it takes place, if possible. It would be good for the retiree to lighten their workload and pass on their knowledge to a younger colleague well in advance. Once retired, it would be to everyone's advantage if the retired employee could act as a mentor to their junior colleagues.
Retirement brings about big changes for which it is a good idea to prepare: your pension will be smaller than your previous salary, your employee benefits will usually end, and so will the shared moments with your work community. Many pensioners say they miss their colleagues most and not so much the job itself. Think in advance about whether you want to keep your colleagues in your life and stay in touch with them after you have retired.
If you can choose when to retire, choose spring or summer. In my experience, starting your retirement as a kind of summer holiday makes the transition easier.
What are the pitfalls of retirement?
The employer should consider whether the tasks of an employee approaching retirement age could be adapted to their health situation. For example, some people begin to suffer from visual impairment or hearing loss as they get older. But these can be sensitive issues, and we all age at our own pace. It is important to maintain a respectful relationship with older employees too.
Some people feel that they get to retire, and others feel that they are made to retire. Retiring is an individual experience. Be prepared for retirement to bring up a range of emotions: jealousy, sadness, relief.
In my opinion, Finland has a work-centered culture, where work very much defines one’s sense of self-worth as well as other people’s appreciation. If work is important for your self-esteem, retirement can be tough. When you retire, you may feel inadequate and depressed. Not having a job does not diminish a person’s worth. To avoid creating a vacuum in your life, it's worthwhile to take up hobbies when you retire.
What should you do as soon as you retire?
Some people do not even want to think about their former workplace. I do not recommend cutting off all relationships in this manner. For many people, meeting up with former colleagues is important. Of course, it would be good to have friends from outside the workplace, from different spheres of life. In retirement, making new friends can seem difficult. Check out hobby circles, coffee meetups for seniors and similar events.
In retirement, your relationship with time will change. Workdays with their coffee breaks are no longer there to set your weekly programme. It is a good idea to create routines in retirement too. Get up at about the same time every day, have lunch regularly and remember to keep the weekend separate from weekdays. For example, after retiring, my spouse and I used to take our Sunday morning coffees outside to mark the weekends.
It is useful to go out regularly and meet people. Being active yourself is key. People rarely come to pick you up from home – you need to have the courage to go out yourself.
How can colleagues take a retiring colleague into consideration?
Colleagues can show appreciation and acknowledge the retiree’s departure.
- Sirpa Taskinen is the author of the book Hyvillä mielin eläkkeelle. Opas työelämän jälkeiseen aikaan, which translates to “Retiring in good spirits. A guide to post-working life” (Aula & co, 2016).