She spent 25 years in the field of organizational behavior and, before that, a decade in public relations. It should not be a surprise what Gloria Dunn-Violin’s “third career” is all about. She is talking and writing about retirement.
In fact, it’s not “retirement” as much as “revivement,” said Dunn-Violin, who also writes the Business Journal column The New Retirement: A Paradigm Shift. Her latest book is “ReVivement: Having a Life After Making a Living.” The book is out this month.
Q: Your book is about retirement. How could we all increase our longevity?
A: The first step requires a big change of mindset. You’re not ending with retirement. Instead you have the gift of a new beginning, which I call revivement.
This new way of thinking encourages you to want to do the things that increase longevity. Like, being willing to use new research to increase your brain smarts and physical health, develop a variety of interests and involvements that make you excited about life, find meaning and fulfillment that makes you happy you’re alive.
Q: In a business world in which many managers and owners are thinking about recruitment and retaining millennials, you take them to task for not recruiting or seeking to retain older workers. Why?
A: Because older workers have acquired skills, expertise, experience, knowledge and more to get their jobs done. Their wide breadth of know-how is needed to help their employers succeed, especially as it becomes more difficult to find replacements for their roles.
At the same time, younger workers can be mentored by seasoned workers, and grow their knowledge base faster. The movie “The Intern” demonstrates this. It can be an everybody-wins workplace — a multigenerational workplace that works.
Q: So what are several things a business owner or company can do to retain or recruit older workers?
A: Acknowledge them as competent human beings, not as older workers. Treat them and all employees with respect and appreciation for their contributions to the organization.
On the practical side, ask them what they want if they stay with the company past retirement age.
- Do they want to shift to part time or work on a contractual basis?
- Do they want different kinds of projects?
- Would they like to mentor younger workers?
Give them options. I suggest companies come up with a questionnaire, or read my articles in the Business Journal that provide more suggestions.
Q: What do you think keeps most people from getting the most out of their retirement years?
A: Lack of understanding that they have another 30–40 or more years of life, which is a lot of time. If they haven’t planned for it, they don’t have a clue what they want it to be like and they can be lost. Like one executive’s wife told me, “It was like he was going 90 miles an hour and fell off a cliff. Lost!”
They think it’s just going to fall in place. But, it doesn’t. That’s why we hear about people who die, get ill and get depressed. They have no reason to get up in the morning. I have stories in my book about people who underscore this.
Q: Let’s tap your organizational behavior experience. Why do so many people count down the days until they can retire, and others don’t?
A: Those who count down the days are tired of the stress, tired of interacting with difficult people, tired of someone else’s deadlines, tired of not feeling respected. There are many reasons, some of which could be ameliorated if the leaders in their organizations put together an internal plan to make the work experience a great one.