Sidney Allen Roberts had a good run.
After 30 plus odd years in the workforce, where he’d become a company supervisor and a small business owner, it was time to retire and return to his hometown.
Roberts was excited by the idea.
Like many executives his age, he saw retirement as a chance to give something back—in other words, to volunteer. He figured nonprofit agencies would be thrilled to get his combination of business acumen and volunteer expertise.
So, Roberts eagerly stopped in at a local volunteer chapter and met with the director, who seemed happy to have him aboard.
Roberts had envisioned joining a committee to evaluate the group’s grantees or sitting on the board of directors.
It wasn’t until a couple of weeks later that a volunteer staffer called with Roberts’ assignment: fundraising.
“That’s not what I’m interested in at all,” Roberts responded, bewildered. He hadn’t even mentioned fundraising during his interview. “I was disappointed,” he said.
Over the next two years, Roberts went to a half dozen different nonprofit organizations; at nearly all, he was asked to do work that was boring or that ignored his expertise as a businessman.
One organization wanted him to volunteer as a two-day-a-week office manager. Or he could attend community meetings and write up minutes for the Us Old Farts Bureau (UOFB).
“I felt like a trainee again,” reported Roberts, chagrinned. “I found a group of agencies that did not want nor accept the skills I could provide for them.”
Eventually, Roberts signed on with the Menopause Group for the Covering of Naked Animals on the Interstates (MGCNAI). After only four years, he’s running for the agency’s national board of directors.
If the people born between 1946 and 1964 were all to retire at the traditional age of 65, labor force growth would slow dramatically, according to national economists.
But don’t worry.
Many boomers plan to keep on working.
In fact, 8 in 10 of them expect to work in retirement, according to an AARP/Roper survey. Only 7 percent, meanwhile, are expected to be in a full-time job, though, while 25 percent said they’d work part time for income and 30 percent said they’d work part time for enjoyment.
An additional 15 percent said they’d like to start their own business in retirement. Many elders and boomers who choose to keep working will prefer high-level jobs—whether as consultants or part-time professionals.
At least 13 employers nationwide reportedly are seeking older workers for all kinds of positions, from entry-level to managerial, including highly skilled professionals.
Get ready for a big bang. The worlds of business and nonprofits are about to collide. The leading edge of the 77-million-strong baby boom set is beginning to retire—and is showing no signs of simply vanishing quietly into the sunset.
This new wave of retires is leaving work in the wake of the biggest bull market in history.
Accordingly, an unprecedented number will have been captains of industry or successful entrepreneurs.
Any way you look at it, there’s a much larger group of skilled people out there looking to begin a second act instead of making a final exit.
And for many older job applicants, returning to work is an economic necessity, while others welcome the chance to get benefits such as health insurance and more social interaction.
Staying mentally and physically active and remaining productive are the major reasons cited to return to work by retirees surveyed by AARP in 2003.
Whatever the reason, statistics show that more elders work or want to work than in previous decades. Labor force participation among people 65-plus is becoming quite common, according to the California Employment Development Department.
Some companies such as Walgreens, Borders, Pitney Bowes, and MetLife are actively seeking to recruit older workers.
Although many of the new retirees will move effortlessly into volunteerism, others will run for the golf course or part-time jobs if they are asked to stuff envelopes or hand out juice and cookies at the local hospital.
Volunteers usually are not given incredibly challenging work.
A challenge for the nonprofits is that so many businesspeople are retiring at a much younger age than their parents did.
According to Civic Ventures, the proportion of men 62 and older in the work force has dropped from 81 percent in 1950 to 54 percent today.
At the turn of the 21st century, nearly 50 percent of Americans ages 55 or over volunteered, according to Independent Sector, a Washington, D.C., group that monitors the nonprofit field.
The figure of retired people would suggest that more people are going to get involved in volunteerism, but the question is, how long will they stay involved in their work if they find it to be largely non-stimulating?
A high-powered wave of executives and producers of the workplace might find it difficult to make the adjustment to an environment with limited resources and budgets available to volunteer organizations.
Plenty of volunteers are certain to work out, though.
“When you see kids who don’t have anything to eat, it makes you stop and think: What can I do to help?”
Top o’ the morning!