The Observer


Retirement - The Next Chapter

by Teresa Norris-Lue, Cowan Insurance Group

Many organizations continue to explore strategies and initiatives that focus on the overall well- being of their employees including their physical, mental and financial health. Communication strategies related to financial health may include basic financial literacy concepts aimed at helping employees who may be struggling with financial stress, which we know is a significant percentage of the workforce. While including these topics with a goal of improving employees’ financial well-being and financial readiness for retirement is important, there is another aspect of retirement preparedness that is not given enough attention. This is the psychological side of retirement.

Individuals and organizations often spend time focussed on the financial, logistical and celebratory aspects of “the retirement date” but not on the planning of the next chapter. In fact, rather than thinking about retirement we should be thinking about opportunities, transition, new beginnings and evolution.

According to the Conference Board of Canada:

92% of organizations currently provide or are developing information/education related to preparing financially for retirement but only 49% of organizations include information about preparing psychologically for retirement.

The financial perspective helps individuals answer questions like:

  • Do I have enough money to retire?
  • Will I have my debt paid off when I retire?
  • What will I get from the government?
  • When and how should I start my income?
  • What health care costs should I be thinking about?
  • Do I want to leave a financial legacy?

The emotional considerations include:
  • What will retirement look like?
  • What will I do in retirement?
  • Where will I live?
  • What will my identity be when it is not tied to my career?
  • Does my partner/family understand my vision and what I want to do?
  • Will my partner retire when I do?
  • How do I prioritize what I want to do to ensure I’m not just filling my time without meaning or purpose?

Why is this important??
We know change is constant in our work life but this is also true in our broader life and adaptability skills used at work can also be applied when planning the next chapter. The focus on wellness continues to be important as employees transition to retirement; how ever that is defined.

An organization’s communication strategies related to financial literacy and retirement preparedness, may want to consider including a focus on the psychological aspects:
  • relationships - partner, family and friends
  • old and new interests – volunteer work, hobbies, clubs, travel
  • using the knowledge and skill set employees have gained on the job and during their career in new ways - mentoring someone newer in their career, consulting
  • how to deal with transition and new beginnings
By playing a role in preparing employees for retirement, organizations may benefit from a smoother generational transition including more effective mentoring and knowledge transfer with employees retiring at the optimal time for both them and the organization.
Related Quotes:
“Once the mindless myths associated with aging are dispelled, people of traditional retirement age must learn to identify the purpose they can pursue with a passion.” Dr. Helen L. Harkness
“As you embark on the exciting journey into retirement, you will experience a transition that be both thrilling and terrifying.” Olivia Greenwell

 Teresa Norris-Lue

 Cowan Insurance Group

Teresa has over 30 years of experience in the group insurance industry both on the consulting side and with a major Canadian life insurance company. Her background includes experience in the areas of group benefits, pension and retirement programs, employee communication/education strategies, governance and risk management and acquisition integration.  In her current role, Teresa is accountable for the strategic direction, leadership, growth and operational effectiveness of the Pension & Retirement Consulting area at Cowan Insurance Group.