4 Reasons Executives Quit at Retirement


Opinions expressed by entrepreneur Contributors are their own.

An estimated 1.5 million retirees re-entered the US labor market last year, according to an analysis by work department Data. As someone who left the corporate world for retirement and then changed my mind, I have a first-hand perspective of what’s to be gained when someone “retires.”

At my company, Vistage, I also see the wisdom our executive coaches (many of whom are not retired) bring to the table, both in group meetings and in one-to-one meetings with CEOs seeking advice from those who have walked difficult terrain in front of them. Many of these chairs are executives who took the leap into professional life because—after taking some time to recharge their batteries and explore their hobbies—they simply knew they had more to offer to the business world. In conversations with colleagues, friends and chairmen over the years, many retirees have expressed similar thoughts behind their decision to return to the workforce and bring back their skills, wisdom and experience on their own terms. Here are four reasons why more and more executives are quitting in retirement:

Related: A Modern Take on Retirement: Increase purpose by becoming “job-optional.”

1. Find purpose and relevance

Time and time again, retirees who choose to return to work cite the same key reason: they want to satisfy their burning desire to be a part of something bigger than themselves again and they miss the thrill of being passionate about their purpose to feel. Humans naturally strive for relevance and the desire to make a lasting impression; When someone retires, this switch doesn’t automatically turn off. Experienced leaders who are able to do inspiring and meaningful work on their own terms will find the best of both worlds. They discover they can be more productive than ever while still living a balanced life.

There are so many ways to define “work” these days. Experienced leaders have more opportunities to do fulfilling work while accommodating their lifestyles at every stage.

2. Wisdom is in great demand

With “The Great Resignation” about 4.3 million people quit their jobs and created a nationwide market for job seekers. Experienced managers and employees are therefore in great demand.

Many coming out of retirement have found they can tap into a valuable skill: acquired wisdom. Having jumped back from the sidelines, many are drawn towards roles where they can lead, coach or mentor others to success, offering lessons learned from decades of experience in the trenches. At Vistage, we experience this first hand every day as the Vistage Chairs bring decades of business experience to their conversations with CEOs. This first-hand insight into the real world is unparalleled when it comes to making critical business decisions.

See also: How mini-retirement brought meaning to my life

3. Diverse perspectives

Diversity is one of the most important elements of the workforce in 2022. Different perspectives lead to better decisions, and experienced leaders provide essential cross-generational wisdom that only experience can bring. It would be a great shame if all the wisdom accumulated over decades of leadership was lost in retirement when it could be shared with the next generation. Being and having mentors is just as important for “unretired” as it is for up-and-coming talent. Mixing with people from different backgrounds and generations allows for fresh thinking and collaboration. In these turbulent times, it has become clear how much we can learn (and gain) from each other.

4. Renew skills

Technology continues to rapidly transform our lives, and as a result, learning new skills has become a crucial component for those re-entering the workforce. But those returning to the job market don’t just want to improve their technological skills. You are looking for lifelong learning. Rather than focusing on areas they have a lifetime of experience in, they are also interested in discovering new skills and continuing to explore uncharted territory. They seek a sense of renewal with curiosity and humility, acquiring new knowledge and different expertise to complement their years of experience.

Related: Do you want to continue your career after retirement? Continue reading

Retirement may not be for everyone, but there are many who reach the top of the mountain only to find they have yet another summit to climb. These leaders are always trying to learn more and improve, and they are also interested in giving back and helping others after a successful life. There’s never been a better time to rethink ‘retirement’ and harness the power of flexibility to create a new, fulfilling path forward for people of retirement age. The growing popularity of retirement is an exciting opportunity for retirees to continue to offer their extensive knowledge and experience on their own terms. Not to mention that companies can benefit so much from the input of experienced leaders.


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