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[This is the concluding part of an earlier write-up titled: “When retirement beckons- the Ghanaian experience.”]

By Daniel Agyen-Tweneboah

It is helpful to still be working after retirement. In fact, it is encouraged for reasons of staying fit and longevity. Professor Laura Carstensen, a researcher, Psychologist and founding Director of the Stanford Centre for Longevity (Stanford University) suggests that careers should be managed as marathons and not a sprint! Laura makes a call to the point that the current arrangement in the world of work in some industries is not suitable for ensuring continuous mental and physical health. In that view, men and women should have a working life after 60! I believe we must have a personal working life after retirement but the average Ghanaian in the working class does not have such a plan until 5 years (or less) to retirement! There are ventures that can be pursued which do not cost much.

 Transamerica published a survey finding in 2017 which noted that 52% of all workers (young and old) fear outliving their savings and investment when they retire, and 42% of workers are concerned that they will not be able to meet the basic financial needs of their household when they retire. This fuels the popular notion that: “It doesn’t take age to retire, it takes money.” As one writer observed, when retirement is docking the silent fears of would-be retirees boarder around lots of “No” and fewer “Yes” conditions – “no routine, no formal office, no work colleagues, no need to get dressed, no purpose (outside yourself and family), no support staff, no job title, no paycheck, on and on.”  These fears in my view crystallize into four areas: reduced social connections; reduced economic connections; physical health degeneration and the employer-induced lack of talent/ succession planning which reflects an antiquated HR infrastructure.  These are reasonable and rational fears but we can get around it – planning, planning, planning! Put in a FIRE plan – that’s the new buzzword on retirement planning, to paraphrase New York Times writer Steven Kurutz. FIRE is an acronym for Financial Independence, Retire Early!

I’m not against employees who are in employment after their statutory retirement age in Ghana. I’m concerned why they cannot go on retirement as by law established to pave way for others? When it becomes an employer-induced problem of feeling insecure and making the employee feel indispensable, then HR has lost the smart leadership touch on talent management and succession planning! In Ghana it has implications for unemployment for every 1 oldie who fails to proceed on retirement 1 youngie is unemployed. But if the oldie is ‘self-actualized’, retires in grand style and enters a new phase of founding new profitable enterprises that would even benefit the upcoming generation.   That is where we should be heading in Ghana!

 

I think Ghana should not increase the retirement age. I therefore make the following propositions to address some of the retirement fears and the attendant challenges for HR as follows:

 

  1. HR should get its data credible. Date of birth information must be accurate, and HR is expected to be firm on it. The standard of proof must be a statutory document – passport, birth certificate or a national ID. This is best practice everywhere in the world. Without this HR data has credibility issues. I do not want to address the issue of ‘ghost names’ yet on that path.

 

  1. The establishment of a “Corporate Hall of Fame for Senior Citizens” who go into early retirement or compulsory retirement. They could be given at least one individual quota for employment in their retiring companies. This could be seen as HR corporate social responsibility. They could in turn offer voluntary coaching/mentoring sessions for upcoming professionals or artisans.

 

  1. Would-be-retirees should consider pursuing writing memoirs, practical business books, equipment operational manuals and becoming specialist career coaches so as to improve the knowledge management hub for their various companies, industries and nations  (an issue for Learning & Development practitioners). The literary culture in Ghana has taken a nose dive in this digital era and in the wake of social media revolution. Adopting a continuous writing habit has a way of reinvigorating the fertility of the mind. For those allergic to writing (lol), you can recruit a literary agent or secretary to do the writing for you on pro bono So many experienced and retired professionals have left the scene quietly with specialist knowledge of encyclopedic proportions.

 

  1. Instead of becoming a CFA (“Chartered Funeral Attendant”) in your retirement, pursue some entrepreneurial ventures you love as a healthy alternative to boredom. This can be a personal work plan after retirement or you can join forces with other like minds. I have seen ageing folks adopt farming and pursuing it into their retirement age which is great. In this area, you have to start doing so long before you retire. As someone has said, retiring from your job does not have to mean retirement from life.

We need the time-tested cautious experiences of the aged to blend with the fluidly creative minds and exuberance of the youth to make a productive workplace at all levels of the organization!

There would be differences of opinion on the subject based on whether you fall under “Baby Boomers” (those born between 1946 and 1964), “Generation X” (those born between 1965 and 1979), “Generation Y or Millennials” (those born between 1980 and 1994) or “Generation Z” (those born between 1995 and 2015). Whatever your impression it is welcome, but you’ve got to get ready for retirement for it will come someday whether the retirement threshold is notched up or not.

Do you think Ghana should increase the retirement age above 60 years? You may share your thoughts after reading this write-up.

Daniel may be contacted with comments on agyen.tweneboah@gmail.com