I know, I know, when you’re retired, you aren’t supposed to have a job. That’s part of the definition, right? Well, yes and no. I am trying to help people recognize their need for purpose, meaning and social contact throughout life, even after their career is completed. Work helps to satisfy all of these criteria. Purpose has to do with having something to do and structuring your time. Meaning involves significance which comes from recognition, stewardship and exchange of value. Social contact is interacting with other people.
Work obviously gives you something to do. Someone is expecting you to show up and get the job done. Work also provides many opportunities for others to recognize your contributions and efforts. A job typically has co-workers, vendors, and customers, with plenty of chances to talk and interact with others. For these reasons I think work during retirement makes a ton of sense for many people. And the pay and/or benefits can also help some take an extra vacation, raise your standard of living, or even make downshifting from career feasible in the first place. However, not every job is ideal for older workers.
Elements of a Good Retirement Job
One of the main objections to work is the lack of flexibility; having to be there everyday, being on someone else’s schedule. There are two ways to deal with this issue for retirees: First, you can look for a job with broad latitude about when the work gets done. One man I know took pictures of houses for an insurance agent. When one of his customers bought a new house, the insurance company required that a photograph was taken of the home. The agent would provide a list of addresses and ask that pictures be taken by the next week. No specific hours were required. The second way to deal with flexibility is to work seasonally. Some choose to work at a golf course during the summer. Others help in a tax preparation office from February through April. Another option is to work retail or shipping during the November-December holiday shopping season. When the season ends, so does the work.
In addition to flexibility, retirees often want less responsibility. This doesn’t mean they are irresponsible, but stress and responsibility is one of the main reason people want to stop the grind of a full time job in the first place. Some teachers I know go back to work in the school, but as a paraprofessional or a sub. They get the contact with kids and colleagues, but don’t have to attend staff meetings, conferences, and other administrative headaches.
A third element of ideal retirement work is mild physical requirements. People in their 60’s generally don’t want to walk on a concrete floor 8 hours per day. Or carry shingles up a ladder. Or be in very hot or cold conditions.
A Short List
Here is a short list of good jobs for retirees. I would love to hear your suggestions or additions – send a note through the “talk to us” box (Include a link).
-Substitute teacher, playground supervisor, paraprofessional
-Assemble grills, swing sets, etc at a home improvement store
-Part-time help in an accounting office during tax season
-Virtual assistant (outsourced office tasks)
-Deliver auto parts from parts warehouse to mechanics
-Courier between library branches, hospital locations, etc.
-Part-time attendant at funeral home
-Take tickets at local college athletic events
-Part-time work at a flower shop, card shop, other retail stores
-Seasonal work at a greenhouse (typically spring)
As I said, this is a short list. Leave us a comment about what you like to do!