May 5, 2016
To Escape Stress, Some Workers Retire
Call it the “fed-up factor” – the uncomfortable circumstances at work that spur some older people to retire, sometimes prematurely.
Squared Away’s readers recently shared their personal experiences in comments posted to a blog post about three job characteristics, identified by researchers, that are linked to earlier retirements: stress, inflexibility, and increasing demands.
Working in the healthcare field has had unique stresses – at high levels – for one reader, Elin Zander, a dietician. Stress “is experienced by clinicians trying to provide quality care in an ever more difficult environment,” she said. “That is why I will retire as soon as I can afford to.”
Paul Brustowicz and his wife both retired to remove themselves from uncomfortable situations – her retirement was to relieve her stress from working as a manager in the demanding healthcare field. As for Brustowicz, “an abrupt change in management with a supervisor who treated me like a newcomer changed by mind,” he said. He had planned to work until 68 but didn’t make it to 67 in his non-managerial job as a training professional for a life insurance company.
John Schmidt’s stress came in working as a high-tech consultant after 30 years in the field – though not for obvious reasons.
“My biggest annoyance is for the people who think just because you are older, you can’t understand the technology.” The truth, said Schmidt, as a member of the generation that “put men on the moon,” is that “understanding a cell phone or social media is not difficult.”
“The net result is a person feels they have had enough, and if they can afford it, they pack it in,” he said. Schmidt retired at age 64.
Another reader, Carol Klay, said the flexibility to transition from a five-day to a four-day work week relieved her stress, and she strongly recommends it. In fact, the researchers did find that people who are able to work part-time – such as taxi drivers or security guards – are more likely to delay their retirement. However, working part-time isn’t an option for most older workers.
Clay’s stress came from “not feel[ing] like I had enough time for myself, for family.” She was also dealing with health issues. Now working four days a week, “It feels like I have so much more free time from just that one extra weekend day!” she said. “Financially, I need to keep working, but now I don’t mind.”
A reader named Peter said that he saw people leaving a major Connecticut corporation in their 50s in the wake of workforce reductions, which increased the demands and hours for the employees who remained.
The problem with retiring prematurely, of course, is that it can hurt one’s retirement finances. For those who continue working, their monthly Social Security checks will be larger, their 401(k)s will be fatter, and they will have fewer years of retirement to finance.
Mark Tonoff, a New Jersey financial adviser, urged readers to weigh the strong appeal of an early retirement against “the serious financial consequences for a couple if at least one of them lives into their 80s.”
Note: since writing this blog, even more readers have weighed in with their comments. To read more, click on the article here and go to the comments section at the end of the post.