30 July 2012

A new study will look at part-time employment as an option for people reaching retirement age with depleted super funds.istock_3739524 A new study at the University of South Australia will investigate flexible working options to assist workers who are reaching retirement age with depleted superannuation funds. 

Supervised by Professor Tony Winefield and Professor Helen Winefield (University of Adelaide), and assisted by Dr Peter Winwood, the study will look at part-time and transitional employment for those reaching retirement, as a strategy to cope with the aftermath of the GFC.

Dr Winwood, who is based at the UniSA Centre for Applied Psychological Research, Work and Stress Research Group, says workers around retirement age are facing dire financial circumstances caused by unstable economic conditions in recent years.

“The past few years have seen a ‘tsunami’ of troubles throughout the world due to what we now call the GFC,” he says.

“It is not just the large banks, corporations and businesses that have been badly affected by this epic financial disaster. The superannuation and pension schemes of countless millions of workers across the globe have been seriously eroded by falling stock and real estate prices.

“The GFC has highlighted the fact that superannuation isn’t necessarily the ‘money in the bank’ asset that many workers have always believed.

“For workers within a few years of, or closer to retirement, this is a very serious issue. Many are now forced to re-evaluate their retirement plans completely. For some, this will mean needing to put off retirement altogether.  However for many, their health and strength issues may limit their ability to continue to work full-time, if at all.

“A solution might be found in continuing to work on a part-time basis until their retirement finances can be stabilised.”

By undertaking a large-scale survey of working adults over 55 and retirees considering a return to the workforce due to financial circumstances, The UniSA research team hopes to gauge the overall experience of workers nearing the end of their careers.

The psychology researchers believe the study will help establish viable alternatives to ensure these workers can make a smooth and financially stable transition into retirement.

“We want to learn about the experience of people who are close to retiring, or have retired, and are now seeking part-time work as they are unable to retire ‘full-time’ due to the economic downturn,” Dr Winwood says.

“The question we want to answer is just how difficult is it for older workers to negotiate with employers successfully to get continuing employment past the retirement age, particularly if that work is part-time?

“A meaningful national strategy to respond to the changing financial circumstances that exist in the economic climate of the 21st century may include ensuring more flexibility in the traditional ‘all or nothing’ approach to retirement.”

The study is currently seeking working adults who are within a few years of, or closer to, retirement age and those that have retired and are looking to return to the workplace part-time. Participants will be asked to share their experiences about negotiating part-time work.

To get involved in the study, call Dr Winwood on 8302 4111 or mobile 0405 100 065 or email him at peter.winwood@unisa.edu.au.

Media Contact
Rosanna Galvin office (08) 8302 0578 email rosanna.galvin@unisa.edu.au

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