The rise of unretirement

According to the Federal Reserve, there was an excess of 2.4 million retirements during the pandemic, many of which were voluntary early retirements as workers during that time reconsidered their priorities. Now, driven by both economic and emotional factors, many of those retirees are returning to work. This shifting tide has the potential to create positive ripples in the workplace.

Welcoming back the unretired—how employers can benefit

Many employers still face a talent deficit and the surge in unretired workers may fill that gap. With decades of experience under their belts, they offer employers a seasoned and reliable pool of job candidates who can hit the ground running. These mature workers can:

  • Add skills and knowledge to the workforce while providing bandwidth and willingness to pioneer new capabilities.
  • Serve as mentors to younger employees, strengthening company culture.
  • Offer valuable insights to other employees about the importance of planning for retirement, whether that’s staying on top of their 401(k) or using their HSAs to prepare for health care expenses.
  • Enhance diversity of the workforce and contribute to idea- and knowledge-sharing that can help support company success.

With decades of experience under their belts, unretired workers offer employers a seasoned and reliable pool of talent who can hit the ground running and bolster an organization’s capabilities, capacity and culture.

Finding fulfillment in unretirement

While some of the unretired are picking up their careers where they left off, others are seeing this as a second act opportunity and re-entering the workforce in entirely new roles. Either way, unretired employees find that their decision to jump back into the workforce has economic, social and emotional benefits.

For some, the choice to return to work has been driven by financial necessity, primarily due to inflation or other cost-of-living pressures. Higher health care costs later in life represent another key financial driver. Others find employment gives them a sense of purpose, mental stimulation and fulfillment. Their jobs also offer the opportunity for social connections with like-minded colleagues, which they may have missed once they exited the workforce. For the unretired, having meaningful work, financial stability and a sense of belonging can contribute to a sense of overall well-being.

Key takeaways

  • Invite unretired employees to share their experiences and insights about retirement at employee forums or networking groups.
  • Include unretired workers in initiatives that can benefit from their experience and skills and, on a parallel path, that offer them the opportunity to learn new skills.
  • Provide flexible work arrangements to help unretired workers ease back into work and balance work-life priorities.
  • Offer training to hiring managers to address potential age bias.