For many, retirement is seen as the final chapter of life—a culmination of years of hard work and savings. But what if retirement wasn’t an end but rather a beginning filled with new opportunities? Over the last decade, more research and innovative new solutions have come out in response to the rising life expectancy and age diversity. Pop culture has also contributed to reshaping our view on retirement—Shows like “The Golden Bachelor” highlight a vibrant, active postretirement life, challenging the outdated notion that retirement marks the end of one’s productive years.

Simon Chan, founder and CEO at Adapt with Intent, Inc., and Celine Chiovitti, chief pension officer at OMERS, shared modern retirement solutions to support the 100-year life at this year’s Canadian Public Sector Pensions and Benefits Conference.

 Outdated Views on Retirement

The traditional view sees retirement as the end goal, a time to rest after decades of work. However, this mindset can limit our true potential. Individuals born in developed countries today have a 50 percent chance of reaching age 100. Therefore, it’s time to shift our perspective and embrace retirement as a journey rather than a destination. Chan shared five mental shifts retirees have taken to embrace the new era of retirement.

  1. Longevity Bonus: With people living longer, retirement can be a time to pursue new passions and careers.
  2. Holistic Planning: Plan for retirement beyond finances—Consider purpose, identity and social connections.
  3. Time Affluence: Retirement offers the gift of time, allowing us to explore new activities and interests.
  4. A New Beginning: View retirement not as the end but as a new chapter filled with possibilities.
  5. Reframing Aging: Adopt a positive view of aging, focusing on emotional resilience and higher emotional intelligence.

Work Is Not a Bad Word: The Benefits of Engaging Work

In retirement, work often becomes a taboo topic. However, work—whether paid or unpaid—can bring numerous benefits to retirees. While some jobs may lack autonomy, finding enjoyable work can make a significant difference. Engaging in work during retirement can give life meaning and prevent feelings of failure associated with doing nothing.

Some benefits employers can provide to retirees include the following.

  • Purpose: Work provides a sense of purpose and direction.
  • Social Connection: It offers opportunities for social interaction and community building.
  • Identity: It helps reinforce or develop a new identity.
  • Structure: Work adds structure to daily life. Many individuals do not realize the challenge it takes to replace over 2,000 hours of work done a year.
  • Additional Income: It can provide supplemental retirement savings.

Reframing Aging: A Positive Perspective

Aging is often viewed negatively, with a focus on physical decline. Yet, a positive view of aging can enhance longevity and quality of life. Emotional resilience and higher emotional intelligence improve with age, making later years a time of growth and fulfillment. The keys to thriving in old age include:

  • Financial stability: Ensuring retirees have enough money to live comfortably, either through savings, governmental pension plans or employer-sponsored pension plans
  • Social connections: Combating loneliness, a significant health issue globally
  • Healthy lifestyle: Maintaining a balanced diet and regular physical activity
  • Continued purpose: Engaging in mentally stimulating activities.

For example, in Japan, where a significant portion of the population is over 85, the focus has shifted on integrating older workers into the workforce. In contrast, China faces the challenge of a high ratio of older adults to working adults, while Italy is experiencing a youth exodus. These examples highlight the need for cultural shifts and innovative solutions.

Importance of Pension Plan Literacy

According to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMD) 2024 Workforce Development Project—Municipal Employee Survey, 52% of employees joined municipal public service primarily for the pension and benefits plans while 43% cited these plans as the most favorable part of their job. Celine Chiovitti explained the importance of pension plan education and how OMERS is reimagining the support they offer to members through their retirement journey. Employers must understand the demographics of their plan members and adapt their services to enhance the education along the age spectrum of plan members.

Canada’s retirement system, created in the 1960s, consists of three pillars. It is insufficient to rely solely on CPP or QPP.  Less than 60% of Canadians have access to employer-sponsored plans. As a society, we are predetermined to think in the short term. Therefore, not many individuals are thinking about long-term savings.  

As we rethink retirement, it’s crucial that employers encourage their plan members to plan for retirement in a more holistic way. Not only should people financially plan for retirement, but they should also consider retirement a new and exciting chapter of their life. This includes finding purpose through passions and careers as well as fulfillment through social connections and new daily life structures. Want to learn more about how to reimagine retirement? Join us at our upcoming conferences and certificates including Health, Wealth and Happiness—Planning Your Path to a Successful Retirement (Part One) and Health, Wealth and Happiness—Living Your Best Retirement (Part Two) at the 57th Annual Canadian Employee Benefits Conference

Eli Argueta

Favorite Foundation Product: Educational Programs/Conferences

Benefits-related Topics That Interest Him The Most: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Workplace Culture, Wellness, and Mental Health 

Personal Insight: Eli enjoys live theatre, concerts, traveling to new places, and watching reality TV. In his spare time, you can find him running outdoors, spending time with family, and playing with his dog, Lucy and cat, Karen.

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