My mother in law gets to retire next month.   Good for her.. her pension plus her social security means she gets to stay home and live off a nearly identical income to what she’s currently earning by going into work every day.  

She’s in an extremely rare situation, firstly because she has a pension, or a defined benefit plan.  Something less than 20% of Americans’ have.  Secondly it’s because she has no desire for an encore career.  Her plan is to stay at home and putter about the house.  I foresee several posts about the former statement, as defined benefits are disappearing and there is massive issues in the defined contribution system, but this post is about the latter part of what makes her rare.  She has no goals for her retirement.  

What do you want to do after the promise of retirement?   

Professional individual contributors are different.   Sometimes out of necessity, sometimes out of habits formed from a lifetime of productivity, sometimes out of a simple desire for more, many of us have taken to the encore career.  This usually kicks in around the time you get your social security payments. The house is paid for, the kids are – hopefully – out of the house, and if smart decisions were made, then there is some measure of financial security.  

What do you want to do after the promise of retirement?  

My brother would spend his time fishing and writIng

My father eventually settled into a small marketing oriented business

I recently learned a great deal about one person who left manufacturing became a beloved teacher.   

Many baby boomers are taking on the role of a stay at home mom, for their grandkids or caretaker for their elderly parents.  

Many are becoming very active with volunteering and philanthropic pursuits.  

In my mother in law’s situation, she’s plans to putter about.  

These are traditional tracks.. Create, Teach, Give, Family, busywork.  

Notice that most of these don’t require 70 hr work weeks under penalty of loss of your job.   People involved in organizations related to these pursuits are treated well, primarily because what they are doing is voluntary, they can leave at any time.

That got me thinking… Imagine what would happen if every organization treated their people like their involvement was part of an encore career.  Would there be 600 high priority emails in your inbox and an irate boss threatening you to work 24/7 to address them or be put on a performance improvement plan?  Nope, the boss would most likely ask you how much help they can give you to get that workload completed.   Would the organization do everything they can to drive the equity position away from the rank and file employee to the management?  Nope, if you can walk away easily then the company would want you to have as much ownership as possible, and as I understand it, stock based compensation is much better to grant than salary for the purposes of cash reserves.    

The solution is to restructure our systems so that there is more flexibility on the part of the individual contributor to come and go as they please with limited impact to both short term (monthly cash flow / health care) and long term (retirement) needs.  I think at first this may be seen as a headache, and probably impossible for the lower pay grade jobs like production technician or fast food restaurant clerk. But this flexibility may be a boon for the organizations that are dependent on professional individual contributors.  Why?  Because of the ebb and flow of business.  Attract who you need when you need them, This is clearly what businesses want.  Then when you need them, you treat them well, this is what employees want but not in the natural tendency of business without some form of incentive.  

Business generally – unless they are in a monopoly position – tend to treat their customers right.  If they weren’t in a monopoly position with their employees, I can’t imagine that they would do anything other than treat the employees great too.

Posted by Mike Peluso

Mike Peluso writes about the collision between between the business / professional world and life. He also writes about the journey involved with the Peluso Presents efforts including the Blog, Books, and Podcast so that others may benefit from his efforts. From Mike: I spend hundreds of hours working on these articles every year with no compensation other than support I get through donations. You can support with a tip and by Subscribing to the Podcast (and writing a review on iTunes would be really appreciated as well!) One time tips:

One Comment

  1. […] where the preference of operations is directly opposed to the structure of our society.  In an earlier post on Encore Careers I touched on what they were and how if everyone was treated like they were working in an encore […]



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