Interview with Cyndi, a French psychologist, working with groups of senior workers or with seniors who retired since less than one year
In your opinion, what are the needs of senior workers and young retirees?
The first need is administrative. When I start working with a group, I ask them what they want, their first wish. Most of them don't know where to start, where to go, which organisations to contact. This creates uncertainties for the future, especially concerning the date of departure and financial resources. This is true whether the person's career path is linear (a single employer) or not, and whatever their status (executive or non-executive) or sector of activity (private or public). They find the calculation of their rights quite complex. The people are also in various situations: for some, retirement is chosen, for others it is imposed, or even imposed because of their personal situation (early retirement to become a family carer, health problem, employer's request). These people ask for a lot of practical advice, or organisations, or people to turn to.
They ask themselves: what to do with their free time? We give them some answers: retirement allows you to have time for yourself, for your family and friends, to do activities. Many people ask themselves what will they do next? This brings up the fear of emptiness after leaving their working life. Sometimes people go into overdrive to fill the diary, for fear of loneliness or boredom. This represents one in two people. Especially people for whom work took up all the space in their daily lives. Their only stable reference point is work and its rhythm. This situation is generally a source of stress.
One third of people are not preparing for retirement and are waiting for support.
What advice could you give to future retirees?
1. To be accompanied in the psychological mechanism of this transition, because it is an upheaval. It can be stressful, it's a big stage in life, which I often compare to adolescence. It is a question of rebuilding one's identity, because one changes status (from worker to retiree). The image that they have of themselves and that society may reflect is being prepared. It is a step towards ageing, which can create anxieties (supposedly linked to a loss of autonomy). This can lead to a reshuffling of family dynamics for couples, hence the importance of good communication, also with relatives.
2. We advise practical things: finding links to avoid loneliness and isolation, voluntary work, associations, activities.
3. For finances: we advise to budget as much as possible, and if necessary to get help from social workers.
4. To cope with change, you need to be very adaptable. It's better when it's chosen. It is also necessary to anticipate with the employer, which is ideal. Phased retirement can be a good transition, which will be smooth. The feeling of usefulness is also very important for future retirees, and many need to feel useful even after retirement. Building on people's specific interests to find activities after retirement, and creating a sense of continuity between before and after to avoid a break.
5. You have to start creating reference points before leaving, which will be put in place afterwards, such as activities, an association. I ask them about the meaning people want to give to retirement to help them find what will be best for them. For some people, retirement is still a taboo subject. They don't talk about it and therefore don't prepare for it. My aim during these groups is to get them talking, to get their emotions flowing and to get them to start thinking and taking certain steps (former colleagues, colleagues, family, friends, etc.). I may advise them to get more personalised and individual support because not everything can be discussed in a group.
What advice could you give to employers?
The first piece of advice would be to be able to orientate future retirees or to organise information meetings on rights and duties within the structures.
The second thing would be to have time with an external facilitator to accompany the transition to retirement, so that they can leave under good conditions.
A final piece of advice could be to set up workshops to discover activities (sport, creative hobbies, taking time to look after oneself, etc.) in order to show them what they can do.
The key is preparation and anticipation, even if there is no miracle formula!