Not ready to retire? Try working flexibly instead

older workerThe law that gave employers the right to force retirement on their workers when they hit 65, was scrapped in 2011, following a campaign by Age UK. This gave rise to a new wave of older workers; those who either don’t want to, can’t afford to, or are simply not ready to retire.

What happens though, when you’re ready to take a step back from your current role and start thinking about slowing things down a little. When you’re not ready to fully retire, but you also don’t want to continue working at the same pace and speed that you do right now.

Here’s our advice on using flexible work to ease into retirement.

Be honest about what you really need

Before you jump in with both feet and ditch your day job, be honest with yourself about what you really need the next phase of your working life to look like.

For some, a more flexible working schedule might be shifting down a gear to three or four days a week. For others, a day or two every week working from home might be more in tune with their needs. When deciding how much time you really want to spend working, you’ll need to consider:

  • How much money you need to bring in from working — this will be a big indicator of what’s realistic for you, and what’s not
  • How long you’re prepared to spend commuting, and what impact this will have on your day
  • What other commitments you have, or would like to factor into your working week
  • Whether you have any health needs that you need to consider
  • When you operate at your best — perhaps, if you’re a morning person, you’d be better suited to working earlier in the day and taking the afternoons off

Consider asking your employer for flex

According to a report by the Centre for Ageing Better, 47% of surveyed employees aged over 50, would be encouraged to work longer before retiring, if they could work more flexible hours. In the same report, 46% said they would continue working if they could work part-time, and 30% would do so if they could take on a less demanding role.

Flexible working benefits everyone. In fact, in the run-up to Brexit, nearly half of employers were worried about a shortage of skilled candidates. Therefore, if you’re in a position where you enjoy working for your current company, a conversation about swapping your full-time role for something more flexible, might be beneficial for you both.

Things to think about when asking your current employer for flex

  • Is your job really suited to the flexible arrangements that you have in mind?
  • Are you prepared if your employer denies your request? What will you do?
  • Are you clear about what you want, and are you prepared to compromise?
  • Do you have a clear business case ready about why working flexibly is a good idea?

Consider applying for a new role

For some, asking their current employer for a flexible arrangement to help them ease into retirement will be out of the question. It could be that you have an inflexible manager who would simply never consider the request, your current job is not suited to flex, or you just don’t want to stay at the company. Whatever your reasons for changing jobs in your later years, it’s never too late to embark on a new career path.

Three things to do when looking for a flexible job as you get older

Get networking: If you’re not yet making full use your LinkedIn profile, or you don’t have one at all, now’s the time to jump onto the platform and make yourself visible. At this stage, you don’t need to make it obvious that you’re looking for something new, especially if you’re in any way connected to your employer via the social platform.

However, it’s a great idea to sharpen up your summary, highlight your experience, and start connecting with everyone you’ve ever met.

One of the biggest mistakes that people make when they first start using LinkedIn, is thinking that simply being on the platform makes them visible. Visibility only comes with social networking. So, once your profile is in tip-top shape, it’s time to get stuck in, connect with people that are working with companies that you might be interested in, and strike up a few conversations.

Research flexible-friendly organisations: Identifying companies who embrace flexible working will help you target your search efficiently. Our jobs board is full of flexible-friendly employers who are keen to receive applications from experienced candidates.

You may also want to consider turning to your favourite search engine to research flexible-friendly employers in your local area. Or, if there’s a company that you’d love to work for, search their website and online presence to see if they advocate flexible working, and put in a speculative application.

Focus on your skills and experience first: As with any application, you should always lead your CV and covering letter/email with your skills, experience and the value you can deliver.

At this stage, don’t worry so much about your age or making it clear that you’re only looking for a flexible role within certain parameters. By focusing on what you have to offer above all else, you’re far more likely to attract an employer’s attention. Discussions about flexible working arrangements can come later, as part of the natural negotiating stage, at the point of final interview or offer.

And finally, remember that as an older worker, you’ll have an incredible amount of experience, wisdom and skill that can truly add value to the workplace, as we explain here. All this knowledge should be front and centre of your application, whether you’re discussing new arrangements with your current employer, or seeking out a brand-new opportunity, to help you ease into retirement.

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