By Jason Flanders, Global Executive Director, Robert Half

Retirement used to mean leaving the workforce for good. But today, for many professionals, retirement is often more of a career pause — or a brief transition toward a new path, like consulting. A proof point: More than half of the senior managers in the U.S. responding to a recent Robert Half survey said that, within the past year, they had onboarded an employee who had retired but decided to return to work.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) reports that the “Great Unretirement” — rising labor force participation among older workers — is a trend underway in many economies across the globe. The WEF notes that the rising cost of living is a key motivator for many retirees deciding to return to the workforce.

Robert Half’s research also shows that economic conditions like high inflation and stock market volatility are prompting many retired professionals to resume careers so they can burnish their nest eggs. More than one-third (34%) of formerly retired employees surveyed by our company said they came back to the workforce because they needed to save more money for retirement than they initially thought.

Some former retirees have been pleasantly surprised by the rate of pay they’ve been offered. About one-fifth of the professionals we surveyed said that they’re earning a higher rate of compensation now than they were before because there is increased demand for their skill set.

A desire to stay active — and work flexibly

But other factors inspire people to hit the pause button on retirement. For example, Robert Half’s research found that some professionals who had retired but returned to the workforce within the past two years did so because they were bored. They realized they weren’t ready to step back from the business world completely.

Our research also shows that 32% of professionals who have come back to the workforce after retiring did so because they were offered schedule flexibility they never had before. And 37% said increased work flexibility has made their return to work more enjoyable.

In a hiring market where the demand for skilled talent is high, and the supply of available candidates is low, this trend of retired professionals returning to the workforce is welcome news for many employers.

Here’s a closer look at the benefits of hiring retired professionals, along with tips for making their workforce reentry as seamless as possible.

The benefits of hiring — or rehiring — retired professionals

One advantage of hiring retired workers is the wealth of insight they can bring to their roles. They’ve likely spent decades in their field, gaining a deep understanding of their industry and best practices in their profession. For example, a retired software developer could bring valuable problem-solving experience and tactical skills to a project involving legacy systems and programming languages.

Retired employees who once worked for your firm offer the additional benefit of institutional knowledge. These “boomerang” employees know the organizational culture well, which can help them hit the ground running and start making contributions faster.

Your newer hires can also benefit from an influx of retirees returning to the workforce, as seasoned professionals make excellent mentors and can serve as role models.

3 tips for bringing retired workers back into the fold successfully

Just like any new hire, a retiree returning to the workforce is more likely to succeed when they have the support of a thoughtful and personalized onboarding process. That’s true even if they will be working remotely. Here are three quick tips to help make this experience positive and productive for retired professionals:

1. Start with a warm welcome

The first day at a new job can be daunting for any worker, no matter their age or experience level. So, make sure newly hired retirees feel fully embraced and valued from the start. A personalized welcome package, introductions to key team members and appropriate tech support are all musts.

2. Offer flexible schedules

Many retired professionals have personal obligations, such as caring for grandchildren or their parents. Most seek to maintain a healthy work-life balance overall, too. So, consider offering flexible work arrangements, such as part-time hours or the ability to work from home, so that older employees can work when they are most productive.

3. Provide targeted training

Even if you’re rehiring a former employee, that person may still need some training to get up to speed with newer programs, tools and virtual collaboration processes. Remember: There’s probably been a lot of change in recent years in your organization due to the shift to remote work during the pandemic and other initiatives, like digital transformation.

To facilitate some of this learning, consider setting up a reverse mentoring arrangement. A less-experienced but digitally savvy employee can share their skills with a newly hired retiree who, in turn, can share their business knowledge and insights with their mentor.

Retired professionals deliver value to employers in multiple ways

Hiring retired employees can be a huge win for your business. According to Robert Half’s research, employers who have brought former retirees onto their teams are benefiting from these professionals’:

  • Strong business acumen, such as their knowledge of critical business issues
  • Ability to contribute quickly
  • Specialized expertise

So, the question for any employer that has yet to tap into this vast pool of highly skilled, experienced and motivated talent is simple: What are you waiting for?

Need an experienced project professional for an upcoming business need? Contact Robert Half.