Human Resources Strategy
September 15, 2020

The 5 phases of retirement and how HR managers can navigate them

In order to best support older employees who are transitioning into retirement, companies first and foremost need an understanding of the phases people go through on their way to retirement.

We’ve provided some details about these so-called "Five Stages of Retirement" with WisR recommendations for HR managers:


Phase 1 is anticipation. In this phase, 77% of the working population look forward to their retirement (0-5 years before retirement). Our recommendation is to start with a preparatory interview or seminar. In this meeting or seminar, you can determine the employee's skills and abilities and whether further cooperation post-retirement would be possible. We see that some companies even offer their employees a seminar together with their partner.


There’s a sense of liberation that comes with retirement. Companies can provide helpful literature for this new phase of life as a going away present, as well as a company booklet with all the most important information about earning additional income and other offers for their senior talents.


The first three to six months of retirement are known as the honeymoon period. Many people travel, dedicate themselves to their families and grandchildren, or tackle long-awaited training or long-delayed personal projects. As a company, it is especially important to communicate during this phase (e.g. via a digital network, group, or similar) and to give people the feeling that they have not been forgotten and still are an essential part of the company.


During the reorientation phase (six to 24 months after retirement), the focus is on finding meaningful activities and new challenges. The probability of returning to the company as a mentor, senior expert, or part-time employee is highest during this phase. Your former employees are still up-to-date, motivated, and know the company as they left it.


The reconciliation phase happens 24 months after retirement. Retirees are now accustomed with their new phase in life and it is more difficult for them to regain their expertise. By this point in time, a lot has potentially changed in the company and the retiree may not have trained and used their skills sufficiently or have by now devoted themselves to other activities.