Pre-retirement training: Ending on a high

With an estimated 15 million UK workers set to retire in the next 20 years, employers have realised that setting employees’ minds at rest about their retirement will make them more productive, loyal and committed. Georgina Fuller looks at the growing interest in pre-retirement training.

Most of us already have a fair idea of how we’d like to spend our retirement, finances permitting. So what is pre-retirement training, and why is it necessary?

Dave Sinclair, training director at Laterlife Learning, which runs pre-retirement courses for employers, explains: “It’s a chance for people who are approaching retirement to start to think about how they will spend their time so that they can enjoy it and feel fulfilled. They receive input from a facilitator, share thoughts and ideas and leave with some structure around which they can do their own retirement planning.”

Sarita Godber, head of HR at London’s Southbank Centre, which oversees the Royal Festival Hall and the Hayward Gallery, says employers must recognise that retirement is a significant life change, both emotionally and financially. “We offer pre-retirement support to anyone reaching retirement to help them make the transition to this new phase of life,” she says. “This can take the form of workshops or one-to-one support sessions covering everything from retirement planning to financial advice.”

Southbank also considers transition arrangements for staff approaching retirement, such as offering them the option of going part-time, and encourages people to bring their partners along to any pre-retirement sessions.

Boosts morale

Godber says the help they provide has clear benefits for them as an employer: “Not only does it help boost morale among the workforce, but it also contributes to our sense of valuing employees and recognising their worth at every stage. Employees leave with a positive sense of the organisation, which is really important to us.”

Luxury beauty products retailer Molton Brown has been working with Jelf Employee Benefits to develop a new pre-retirement support package.

Natalie Morgan, Molton Brown’s HR director, believes the courses can help retention rates, and says that this is the first time the company has offered benefits tailored towards older staff. “People join a company and are provided with, perhaps, a pension scheme and income protection. They go through their entire work life cycle, and then at the end, they’re shown the door. The retirement design courses solve that, inexpensively and effectively,” she says.

Courses are typically offered as part of an employee benefits package and take place over one to three days, with the option of ongoing support after retirement. Most courses cover all the key issues facing employees who may be about to retire. These include work options, health and wellbeing, financial and legal matters and the general impact of retirement on the retiree and their friends and family.

Some providers, such as Laterlife Learning, offer online workshops and support after the programme and a refresher course six to 12 months on.

Other courses, however, have more of a financial focus, with independent financial advisers offering advice on investments and savings after retirement.

David Edwards, corporate services director at Jelf Employee Benefits, says: “Retirement planning courses are often perceived to be purely financially focused. And yes, considering budgets, company and state pensions and managing loans, debts, tax implications and mortgages is a vital part of the day.”

But the other aspects of retirement are also important, says Edwards. “Suddenly, you find yourself spending 2,000 more hours each year at home. It doesn’t matter who you are, this is going to have an impact. We discuss feelings about retirement – positive and negative – the challenges and opportunities, whether it’s leisure, hobbies, travel, or work, whether paid or voluntary. It’s about learning to handle the third stage of your life.”

Lifestyle issues

Tony Clack, founder of Laterlife Learning, believes that lifestyle issues should be the central focus in any pre-retirement course. He says: “Most pre-retirement training is delivered in the last year or two before retirement. At this point there is relatively little scope to make significant adjustments on the financial front. Finance must be covered on a course, but the lifestyle issues are paramount.”

Monica David, midlife planning co-ordinator at training provider Agewell, believes that retirees should be encouraged to think more about doing something productive in their later years. At Agewell, she says, “participants are encouraged to recognise they have transferable skills that can be used both now and in the future in paid or voluntary work after retirement.”

And pre-retirement training could help employers retain valuable staff post retirement, David argues. “It enables employers to look at retaining, retraining and recruiting older workers. Once an employer identifies the needs of its older workers in terms of flexible working, options can be given to encourage employers to offer its workers a choice of continuing to work or retire,” she says.

Ultimately, it’s about looking after your staff, says Janet Harrison, head of development at consultancy Vision Republic. She believes that offering support to employees in their later years is good for both recruitment and the employer brand.

“The company benefits from being identified as a value-driven organisation that looks after its people at all times – this generates a culture that people want to buy into. So you will have employees actively wanting to work for a company that provides great benefits,” she says.

It is, however, difficult to gauge the take-up and impact of pre-retirement training at present as it is such a new concept. James Biggs, associate director, Jelf Employee Benefits, admits that it can be difficult to assess the return on investment in clear financial terms. However, he says: “The feeling is that if you do this right, you’ll make a difference.

Pre-retirement training courses: what’s on offer

Provider   Course  Topics covered Cost   Extras

 Vision Republic

 One-day ‘life audit’

 Identifying core skills and abilities, financial mapping for the future and adapting to a new lifestyle

 Average day rate ranges from £1500 (minimum of 10 delegates) to £3,000 for a bespoke course

 Vision Republic also runs a ‘success in retirement’ session which includes self development/positive psychology/creativity tools and techniques and a section on visualisation

 Active Age Planning

 One-day programme covering all the key issues

 Impact of retirement, health, money matters (including pensions, benefits and savings), legal issues, employment options, voluntary work and hobbies

 Courses range from £850 for up to 20 delegates. If the venue is paid for by the employer, the cost is £42.50 per delegate

The course includes a section on finance with an independent financial adviser and a handbook for reference after the course

 Jelf Employee Benefits

 One-day recruitment design course

 Making the most of financial opportunities, challenges and personal aspects of retirement, leisure and hobbies and
voluntary work

 A bespoke programme costs around £1,300. Jelf also offers ‘open’ courses for £175 per person or £195 per couple if the delegate chooses to bring their partner

 Jelf also offers annual meetings to review investments and post retirement seminars (usually at five year intervals) to ensure that legislation hasn’t impacted on investments, inheritance tax planning and wills


 Midlife Future Planning programmes range from half-day, one-day and two-day courses. Agewell also offers separate modules in specific topics

 The two-day course covers health information, flexible retirement and work options, physical and leisure activities, finance and pension planning

 From £20 per head for a half-day course (minimum of 15 delegates) to £900 plus £20 a head for information resources
for a two-day course
(maximum 20 delegates)

 Agewell works with employers to tailor the course for employees and also include an interactive case study to open up discussions. The course is followed up with a questionnaire six months after to see if any changes have been made


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