Time for an encore
By Brian Anderson
Perhaps you have heard of the term “encore career.”
Popularized by Marc Freedman of Civic Ventures — a nonprofit think tank on boomers, work and social purpose — it’s used to describe a post-retirement career. The word “encore” serves to both applaud and promote people seeking purposeful work after they retire from their traditional professional career.
Let’s hope this term catches on big time in the coming decade. It will be imperative to the prosperity of the country that fewer boomers retire in the traditional sense of the word.
Once 2011 began, the first of the baby boomers started hitting age 65 — and will continue to do so at the rate of 10,000 per day for the next 19 years. By 2025, there will be 66 million Americans over age 65. How the over-65 crowd decides to spend its days will have a tremendous impact on the country.
It’s no secret that a large percentage of boomers — more than half, by most of the many studies I’ve seen — have not saved adequately to be able to even remotely maintain their lifestyle throughout a traditional retirement. But beyond that, America can’t afford to have a large percentage of boomers sitting on the sidelines once they exceed the traditional retirement age.
The country as a whole needs to embrace and value the experience and wisdom of the boomer population and do everything we can to encourage them to remain engaged and active in the workforce — especially by way of the encore career whenever appropriate. I just don’t see how the encore career could be interpreted as anything but a win-win situation.
While many boomers will undoubtedly pursue an encore career based solely on their own personal interests or niche causes, boomers in general will be instrumental in helping America deal with the enormous challenges of a rapidly aging society on the not-too-distant horizon. We need them to be part of the solution, rather than add to the problem.
Ellen Goodman of the Washington Post Writers Group recently noted in her column, “No time for ’tirement,” that “the one age group that didn’t vote for the ‘hope and change’ message of 2008 was those over 65. The elders who already had universal health care — Medicare — were the least eager to assure it for others.”
Goodman, who did just join the board of Civic Ventures, went on to say, “I have a sense that if we don’t use this gift of time to open up new possibilities, we may go into a long, anxious crouch. If we are not the change agents of aging, we’ll be the change resisters. Indeed, if we don’t feel needed and engaged as problem solvers, we may well be part of a growing me-first senior politics.”
That would not be a win-win.