Retire before the retirement age or stay in work?

Almost half of employees in the Netherlands are struggling with the question whether to retire before the retirement age, or to stay in work. The age of retirement if being raised slowly, in light of the increasing life expectancy. From 65 years in 2015, it has now been raised to 67 years, and eventually will 70 years by around 2050. But if the retirement age continues to move upward, many fear they won’t be able to make it to the end. Findings from a survey conducted by CNV trade union on 2,700 respondents aged 45 and older prove the above statement’s accuracy.  Around 57% of the respondents stated that the nature of their job makes it difficult for them to continue working until retirement. Most of the respondents embarked on their professional journey before the age of twenty and are simply burned out. However, for around 6 in 10 workers, early retirement is not feasible due to affordability and financial independence. CNV expressed its disappointment that people have to continue working till they drop despite living in such a rich country like the Netherlands. For some people, and RVU (early retirement scheme) is a possibility, but this is not always the case.

There are many valid reasons why employees wish to retire early:

  • Job dissatisfaction

This reason tops the list when it comes to why people wish for early retirement. In a nutshell, people have not found a job that gives them enough fulfillment to do it for the rest of their lives. If you are unhappy with your job, everyday feels like a year and you may not see it as worthwhile to continue working until retirement.

  • Burnout

Burnout is one of the important factors that can force people to stop working before reaching retirement age. Burnout is not just limited to physical exhaustion, but emotional and mental instability are further reasons that may cause burnout. When employees experience burnout, they lack motivation and feel too drained to cope with their jobs. This gets reflected in their productivity, job satisfaction and overall well-being. As the CNV president states, the number of people being on benefits for work disability is increasing every day. Last year it was announced that the damage caused by burnout is standing four billion euros per year.

  • Health issues

One’s own health or the need to provide care to a family member is also an important reason to an early retirement. A recent European study revealed that almost 30% of people who retired before their retirement age indicated their health as the reason. Health concerns can creep up unexpectedly and can mar your carefully laid future. Chronic illnesses, injuries and disabilities can make it challenging for employees to continue working until traditional retirement age. And given the fact that the population is getting older, many older employees are also taking care of their own elderly parents.

  • Demanding or challenging occupations

People in demanding occupations, especially those involving extreme physical efforts, almost always opt for early retirement. It is always debatable which jobs could be categorized as challenging jobs. The CNV president wishes for a consensus on this between employers and the government, which will make it possible to help people with demanding professions and determine who is eligible for early retirement. A higher tax-free benefit could also be a great relief for people with demanding jobs – which often pay a low salary – to retire early.

  • Changing priorities

As employees age, they increasingly prioritize spending time with family, pursuing personal interests or travelling, after realizing time is precious and the clock is ticking . These are great motivators and outweigh the potential drawbacks of leaving the workforce earlier than expected.

In conclusion, employers would like to retire early, but a broader perspective may be needed than just offering an RVU. It requires an equilibrium with suitable solutions for employees being in difficult professions and are struggling to reach the finish line. In addition to this, it is also important to prevent a new culture of earlier retirement from emerging. The state pension age was raised for a reason. People quitting earlier than expected can have a negative impact on the economy of the country.

Written by Parul Sachdeva