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David FullerA girl recently told me she wants to quit her job – she doesn’t want to work any more or go to school.

“It sounds like you want to retire,” I said. “What would you do with all your time?”

“I might want to do some travelling or play basketball,” she said. “I really don’t like working.”

“That sounds like retirement to me,” I suggested. “How are you going to pay for those activities?”

She didn’t have an answer. But my gut feeling is she wanted her parents to pay for her retirement. Knowing her parents quite well, I suspected that would never happen.

I’m at the age where some of my friends talk about retirement. Some are tired of working and others would like to move on to something else. I just heard that my friend Al has retired and is spending his days doing yoga.

A few years back, Workopolis surveyed 4,000 Canadians. The findings suggested that most people will have two or three careers over their working years.

The survey said that the three main reasons people left their jobs were:

  • They wanted to find a career they were passionate about.
  • They were becoming bored or disillusioned with their job.
  • There was a lack of opportunity for advancement in their current career path.

This can be a challenge for employers. When employees leave a job for whatever reason, there’s a significant cost to replace them.

Losing good young people because we haven’t been able to create jobs that are challenging and motivating is discouraging for us and our employee.

As baby boomers grow older and reach retirement age, firms face losing the brainpower that fuelled the company for years. While creates opportunity for younger staff with new ideas and youthful energy to direct the company, often there’s a gap in skills. And the employer runs the risk of losing knowledge if they haven’t prepared for this transition.

Retirement can also be a challenge for those retiring.

I’ve seen work cultures where staff are seen as a commodity who should feel privileged to work for the company or to have a job at all. There’s no notion of how these employees will live out their days after many years of working to benefit the company. Usually this doesn’t end well for the company or the employees.

As leaders, we must consider the long-term welfare of our staff. Not only should senior management have a decent retirement package, we should have a plan for our front-line workers.

As business leaders, our retirement can be a daunting thought. Many who own a businesses don’t have a real strategy for who will take over the company and manage our clients or customers. These owners might be burned out and looking forward to travelling, playing golf and drinking coffee with friends. But like my 18-year-old friend, entrepreneurs really don’t have a clear idea how to pay for those activities.

It’s unlikely my 18-year-old friend can retire or that she should live a life of leisure. However, if we can help her find a career that’s meaningful and life-giving, there’s no reason she would want to retire for at least 35 years or 40 years.

When we’re passionate about our work and feel we’re creating something meaningful and valuable for society, there’s less internal pressure to quit our jobs and hang out at a yoga studio or basketball court.

Troy Media columnist David Fuller, MBA, is a certified professional business coach and author who helps business leaders ensure that their companies are successful. David is author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Email [email protected]


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