HEIGH-HO, HEIGH-HO, It’s off to work we go

Many of those planning for retirement cannot imagine wanting to go back to work again.  However, about 40% of Boomers do just that.  Whether they want to enhance or maintain their lifestlyes, make a contribution, be socially engaged, or pursue an interest, they are reentering the workforce.  The younger the retiree, the more likely this is to happen.  If their retirement was a result of a layoff or other dramatic personal change, going back to work is often a financial necessity.  Lots of retirees find themselves working on their resumes rather than their golf swings.


Some retirees are going back to work to pursue a dream, a passion, an interest or hobby.

Marilyn had been a competitive swimmer in her youth but nursing training, marriage, and children put a stop to that.  After too many irregular shifts, demanding patients, and yet another cut back, she decided to retire.  After a one year retirement honeymoon of renovation and travel, she was bored.  She now works 16 hours a week as a swim coach, takes on some private clients, goes to competitions, belongs to the CSCTA and goes to their yearly conference.

Marilyn describes her retirement job this way, “It makes me feel vital and alive working with these dedicated young people.  I am in a world that I missed and I love it!”


Consulting or working part time for a former employee is an option for many especially in careers where there are labour shortages.  Employers look for ways to hang on to their people through phased retirement, flexible schedules, work from home set-ups, or consulting work.

Jeff worked as an engineer for a firm for a number of years and retired when his employer suggested that he become a consultant for them and be hired project to project.  That suited Jeff and his wife as they can now pick and choose projects, and still go the the Southern USA in the winter months.

Here’s what Jeff says about his retirement work, “I think that flexibility is the best part of consulting work.  I still earn an income but on my terms but have the time off to try out retirement.”


Retirees often look for opportunities for social engagement, meaningful activity,  an identity as a productive worker, and a structure for their time.  For some, part time employment offers these.

Mike’s wife gave him the push to get out and get going.  He encountered some ageism in his job search but soon found Home Depot and a part time position.  His buddy found a job at Home Hardware and now they joke that they are both in “Homes”.

Not only is mike happier but so is his wife . . . “Now I have the two, home and Home Depot, my wife and I are both a lot happier.”


Life brings opportunities and tragedy.  Divorce, health issues, the death of a spouse, a layoff at work can bring an abrupt halt to life as usual.  Plans and realities change and adjustments need to be made.  This can throw people back on to the job search roller coaster.  Sites like retiredworker.ca has 30,000 folks from across Canada registered and retraining programs for older workers are improving skills and upgrading education.  The Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities is funding the Targeted Initiative for Older Workers.

The work place, for the most part,  needs the skills and work ethic of older workers while some older workers wish to continue their employment experience beyond their retirements.  So what do you want to be when you grow up this time?

Written by Donna McCaw

Donna McCaw is the author of It’s Your Time about the choices and decisions in preparing for retirement, a storyteller and speaker who helps people make informed and positive transitions to retirement. She does courses and presentations on Retirement Readiness and Women and Retirement.

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