BlackRock Retirement Institute

Changing the culture
of retirement

Jun 28, 2017
By Anders Olauson

To transform the challenge of Europe’s ageing society into an economic opportunity we must change our culture towards retirement and reframe our concept of ageing. People who are 65 and over today understand that they enjoy better health and longevity than generations before and hence expect to live their later years differently than previous generations. The rest of society, however, has not caught up with this new reality. In 2014 only 18.5% of EU persons over the age of 65 were in the workforce. This low proportion of 65+ workers is not only economically unsustainable but it is also inconsistent with employees’ actual expectations. In a global survey in 2014 only 32% of employees said they planned to stop work completely at retirement age. To support longer working lives we need to change our thinking on retirement and throw out our notion of a set retirement age. We can no longer think of the later years of life as inactive, we instead need to incubate a culture that promotes healthy ageing, creates more inclusive employment policies, and encourages social and intellectual engagement throughout the life course. Governments can help change the mind set towards retirement by modernizing public policies to reflect 21st century demographics but employers will have the most critical influence by adopting policies that attract and retain older workers and by prioritizing employee health and wellbeing.

Critical next steps:

  • Governments should change the state pension age to reflect new demographic realities and create other economic incentives that make early retirement less attractive.
  • Employers should adopt inclusive hiring and recruitment strategies to prevent age-discrimination and to ensure that they attract talent from all ages.
  • Health problems are often the main reason why workers leave the labour market sooner than planned. To keep workers working longer employers should prioritize employee health and well-being. In addition to providing access to high-quality healthcare, employees can also promote health through non-traditional initiatives such as providing healthy food choices in staff canteens, free health checks, subsidized gym membership or on-site exercise classes.
  • Persons who have a chronic diagnosis should be offered diagnose-adopted programs to support their everyday life.
  • Employers should improve staff retention, especially among older workers, by providing flexible working and gradual retirement. Flexibility will enable more workers to meet their career expectation of remaining professionally engaged after the age of 65.
  • Employers should invest in training programs designed for employees across all levels to help workers keep their skills current throughout the course of their career.

The changing culture of retirement

Hear from Anders Olauson about how governments, employers, and health care systems should change the way they operate to support longer working lives.

Anders Olauson

About the author

Anders Olauson
President, European Patients’ Forum

Anders Olauson was involved in the founding of the Agrenska Centre in 1989. He served as director until 2004 and since then has been chairman. He is responsible for establishing The Agrenska Virtual International Academy, a research centre for rare disorders.

In 2003 The Eesti Agrenska Foundation was inaugurated, and Anders is serving as Chairman of the Council since then.

Anders is particularly concerned with the impact of rare conditions on children and their families. His work involves contact with both national and regional legislative bodies on the subject of rare disorders. He is also in contact with representatives of hospitals, education and labor unions as well as other key players in the field of rare diseases.

Anders is past member of the board of Eurordis, and was president from 1999 to 2001. He currently represents it as a member of the board of the European Patients’ Forum (EPF). He has been president of EPF since June 2005. Anders represents EPF in steering committees, which has been established by DG Sanco and DG Infso. Agrenska was in 2005 appointed member of ECOSOC within United Nations, with “special consultative status”.