We are living and working longer than ever before so gone are the days where we are required to work a 9 to 5 job until the day we turn 65, and then retire. The challenge is that many people don’t know how to sustain a longer working life or how to transition to a fulfilling retirement.
What is late career?
‘Late career’ refers to that life-stage when individuals adjust to the prospect of retirement. Late career used to be a life stage around 55-70 years of age, but these days two significant social changes are set to extend this late career stage.
Firstly, as we are living longer and healthier lives, individuals are able to continue working well past any previous retirement age. Secondly, not everyone is financially able to spend these extra years of healthy living without an income.
Because our Late Career stage is likely to last longer, it is important to stop, take stock and make a plan for what we want the latter stages of our career to look like.
Does our current career align with our values, provide for us in the way we want, and for the most part contribute to our well-being and happiness?
Why does it matter to me?
Late Career is a pivotal life stage that sets us up for retirement. Both work and personal factors influence how we navigate our late career. Work, wealth, home and health act as driving forces, or obstacles, to remaining in the workforce.
The Ageing Workforce Ready project funded by WorkSafe’s WorkWell Mental Health Improvement Fund has interviewed many older workers in the public transport industry about their late career decisions. Most were thankful to be in a job that they were physically and mentally able to do as an older worker, and that allowed some flexibility. While some of the people we spoke to were in public transport through a ‘happy accident’, others had chosen this career path deliberately.
Ivan* had previously run his own business and appreciated having a job that was less stressful while still flexible. However, he still wasn’t quite sure how he would cope when he stopped working altogether.
Carl had loved busses his whole life and was determined to keep working part-time for as long as he could. His manager actively supported him to implement adjustments to his work so he could stay safe and productive.
Sonya divorced a while ago and found herself without enough money to retire. She landed a job as a bus chaperone for special needs children, then worked her way into driving full-time.
Stephen had driven busses his whole life and was apprehensive about doing anything else, even though he knew he couldn’t indefinitely keep up this pace at work. He desperately needed a plan but neither he nor his supervisor knew about late career navigation.
Although each of these people were at the late career stage, each experience was different, and all could have benefits from tools and supports that helped them plan for their wellbeing.
How do I navigate late career?
Four key factors—work, wealth, home, health—are integral to our ability and motivation to keep working, and our feelings about retirement. In planning our late career, some useful questions to ask include:
- Work: Is work (paid or unpaid) meeting your needs?
- Wealth: What is your financial situation?
- Home: What could your home life look like in late career?
- Health: How happy are you with your physical and mental health?
Transitioning Well has developed a guide to help people navigate their late career, or indeed all stages of their career. It is anchored in our personal wellbeing, goals and values, and encourages us to consider our broader life context before creating a transition plan.
* Names have been changed.
Organisational Psychologist at Transitioning Well