Analysis: MAXWELL ZEFFINATI PHIRI
PLANNING for retirement begins the first day you start your first
Whether you like it or not, you will one day go on retirement. You will not work forever. Do not wait till that time when you reach your retirement age that you haven’t put much. Plan now to have a great season outside your working years.
In Zambia we have this myth that ‘eat now and the future will sort itself out’. This is a syndrome of not caring about making investments for the future, and as a consequence many people are unprepared for life after retirement. As a result, a number of retirees end up living as destitute, after 60 years of hard working life.
The current trend is that many supposed retirees are bouncing back on to the labour market and getting back good jobs for their experience, but this is at the expense of young competent graduates and potential future graduates. The justification of bouncing back old retired folks by some employers is that they would like to tap from their experience. Well! That is their own wisdom but common sense would argue that this is lack of wisdom from such employers because the world is dynamic and need new and fresh thinking from the young ones.
The situation is the same across African countries and yet, again and again, due to poor pension schemes in Africa, a huge number of retirees are still job-hunting in order to earn a living, something I tend to disagree with. If the trend continues, then how are we going to absorb the young graduates on to the labour market if the elderly are still working?
John C Maxwell, the Leadership guru, defined the law of reproduction: “It takes a leader to help others become leaders. Leaders who develop other leaders are able to: See the big picture Attract potential leaders Create an “eagle” environment.”
Maxwell’s school of thought – popular in the Human Resources fraternity – explains the importance of succession planning. It advocates a system where the organisation has a properly defined succession plan in place to allow for transfer of skills and experience. In today’s labour market, quite the opposite is happening where retirees and those who are supposed to be preparing for retirement are clinging on to jobs for continued survival. Yet the reason they give is that they have the experience and expertise, and the young professionals are not ready to take up the positions.
At 65 years it is not easy to be waking up every day at 06:00 hours or earlier to beat the traffic, perform the rigorous work schedule and get back home around 19:00 hours or break nights or awkward hours for those working in shifts. Indeed if you ask any of them if they still enjoy such routines, you will be amazed with their responses. They will tell you they are actually tired and only wish if someone could bring food on their table everyday while they retire and relax at their farms.
Yet in many institutions today it is common to find people above the retirement age pushing for contracts to stay on in their jobs. Some of the justifications you get from the retirees who are still in formal employment:
1. I am tired of working but I just have to push myself to work because of debts, e.g. mortgage (poor planning).
2. I am still working after retiring because I have to.
3. I am still serving because of my little children who are in school.
4. I am working because I have to pay rentals.
These are not justifications to warrant someone to continue working full time at the age of 65 years and above.
I am sure the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and respective governments have done enough studies in this respect. In many countries retirement age is at 60 years or above as enshrined in their respect labour laws. For Zambia, the retirement age has recently been adjusted from 55 years to optional provisions of 55 years for early retirement, 60 years for normal retirement and late retirement age being at 65 years. .
One of the key reasons for determining a retirement age is consideration of productivity expected of an employee. When one is aging, the output or performance starts dwindling, and usually after age of 55 years, because of compelling age related difficulties such as sight problems. Hence, the effectiveness of the employee on the job is affected and productivity dwindles as a person advances towards the retirement age.
According to my basic findings, the major reason why retirees still look forward to be working even after retiring it is because the pension plan schemes are not well prepared. Most organisations have several pension schemes for their employees; it could be Defined Benefit Scheme or Contributory Benefit Scheme. These two schemes will be discussed in detail later.
Next week, we will look at how developed countries have managed to come up with sustainable pension schemes which makes their pensioners afford to be local and international tourists.
Till next week meet me at the top where potential pensioners like me soar like an eagle. Remember you need to retire healthy and rich.
The author is a human resources practitioner and pension advisor.