- The pandemic has had far-reaching effects on how employees plan for retirement — and for “pre-retirement,” a new life stage that serves as a transition period between full-time work and retirement, according to a survey of 2,002 U.S. adults ages 35-70 and commissioned by 401(k) plan provider Human Interest. One in 7 (71%) employees who had a “very difficult” time during the pandemic now plan to retire later in life, although two-thirds (66%) think the ideal pre-retirement age is under 50.
- Roughly 1 in 3 respondents said the pandemic changed everything about their retirement decisions — how they save (31%), what they want to do (31%) and when they want to retire (29%), the fall 2022 survey found. An even greater number said it changed how they made health decisions (40%) and how they save for emergencies (42%).
- “With the pandemic’s after-effects and ongoing inflation, people have had a revelation about retirement,” Eric Phillips, a Human Interest senior director, stated in a Nov. 1 release. “That includes ‘pre-retirement’ as well, so it’s more important than ever to keep both one’s financial present and future in mind,” he said.
The findings continue to clarify employee attitudes about retirement and what employers can learn from them. For example, in a March poll by Resume Builder, 1 in 5 retirees said they were likely to head back to work this year, HR Dive previously reported. Although 19% said they planned to go back to a former employer and 23% said they will stay in the same industry but work for a new employer, 58% said said they would work in a different industry.
The Human Interest survey helps flesh this out. It found that mobility was the key desire for those planning retirement, with the majority of employees saying they would move to another city, state or country, or become nomadic. The survey also indicated that companies with strong corporate social responsibility reports aren’t just a draw for millennials and Gen Z. Of employees thinking of transitioning to a new job or industry before retirement, 39% said they wanted to do something with an impact on their community.
Similar to the Resume Builder findings, the Human Interest survey found that retirement decisions are commonly driven by income. Four out of 10 employees who are thinking of transitioning to a new job or industry prior to retirement said their reason for doing so would be to earn money and make their savings last longer.
However, when employees said they plan to retire later, and retirees express an interest in returning to work, some may be talking about part-time employment, the survey indicated. More than two-thirds (69%) of those who consider transitioning into pre-retirement believe retirement is a gradual change away from full-time work, rather than a complete stop. And the average person believes they can work up to 11 hours a week and still be considered retired.
The findings also open the door to more discussion about retirement and financial planning benefits. A recent survey by TIAA found that while saving for retirement is a top financial goal of employees, 51% of workers said the pandemic increased their stress about being able to retire when they wanted, HR Dive reported.
Retirement plan sponsors can do more to help employees with these concerns and their financial transition to retirement, a TransAmerica Institute survey released in August found. Pre-retirees face complex financial decisions, but only 44% of plan sponsors provide access to a financial advisor, according to the survey.