The Great Unretirement – why working beyond your 60s is the future
20 Sep, 2023

Sonja Steyn, Head of Wealth Management Strategy, Private Wealth & Business Management at Consult by Momentum


In today’s dynamic and evolving business landscape, the concept of retirement is undergoing a profound transformation. The traditional notion of leaving the workforce at a certain age and entering a state of relaxation is being replaced by the exciting concept of “unretirement”.


Unretirement challenges the boundaries of age, experience and expectations, ushering in a new era of possibilities for individuals and organisations alike.


What is unretirement?


Unretirement is a modern concept that sees an individual – who has previously retired from their primary career or the workforce – re-enter the workforce or engage in new professional endeavours, often in a different capacity or on a more flexible basis.


Unretirement can take different forms, such as part-time employment, freelance work, starting a new business, or pursuing different interests and passions in a more structured manner.


It signifies a departure from the traditional idea of retirement as a permanent exit from work and emphasises the choice to remain professionally active, whether for financial, personal fulfilment, or other reasons, typically during the later stages of one’s life.


Unretirement is also born of necessity. The reality is that – thanks to advances in modern medicine and lifestyle interventions – people are living longer. Unfortunately, the not-so-good news is that in many cases, they’re now outliving their retirement savings. Unretirement extends one’s working life and thus earnings.


What can unretirement bring to the boardroom table? Let’s look at what it offers both the employer as well as the un-retiree.



For employers, unretirement brings….



The benefit of experience


Unretirement leverages the invaluable experience and expertise of seasoned professionals.

Unretirees bring a wealth of learning, knowledge, and expertise to the workforce. Their decades of professional insight can also be invaluable in mentoring younger employees.


Diversity of perspective


Unretirement is a catalyst for innovation. When retirees return to the workforce or pursue entrepreneurial endeavours, they often bring fresh perspectives, a wealth of knowledge, and a hunger to make a lasting impact. This diversity and cross-generational collaboration can drive creativity and innovation to new heights.


Unretirement as a driver for flexibility


Unretirement emphasises flexibility. Many retirees are no longer interested in traditional nine-to-five roles. They seek part-time, remote, or project-based work that allows them to balance their professional pursuits with personal interests. Forward-thinking companies are adapting their work arrangements to accommodate this shift.


For the individual, unretirement brings…


Continued growth and renewed purpose


Unretirement enables individuals to continue learning, growing, and setting new goals. It provides an opportunity to pursue passions, acquire new skills, and explore uncharted territory, leading to personal fulfilment and a sense of purpose.


Financial security


Extended working years can enhance financial security, allowing retirees to maintain their desired lifestyle and support their long-term goals, such as travel, charity, or investments.


Social connection


Staying engaged in the workforce or starting new ventures keeps individuals socially connected. It combats isolation, promotes networking, and fosters a sense of belonging within a community of like-minded individuals.


My advice to businesses is to embrace diversity in age as a core value. Promote a culture that values the contributions of employees at all stages of their careers. Invest in ongoing training and development programs for employees of all ages. Encourage skill-sharing between generations to bridge knowledge gaps and promote a culture of continuous learning.


To attract a wealth of experience, consider offering flexible work arrangements, retirement plans, and healthcare options that cater to the diverse needs of your workforce, including those exploring un-retirement.


Un-retirement is not merely a trend; it’s a paradigm shift. It’s a recognition that age does not diminish an individual’s capacity to contribute meaningfully to the workforce and society.


By embracing unretirement, both individuals and organisations can unlock a wealth of opportunities, drive innovation, and create a future where retirement is not the end but a new beginning – a chapter filled with purpose, growth, and fulfilment.


It’s time to embrace the potential of unretirement and rewrite the rules for the better.








@Sonja Steyn
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