University Business - November 2008 - (Page 23)

HUMAN RESOURCES Retirement’s Other Side: Addressing the Emotional Consequences Part two of a two-part column on retirement planning at colleges and universities By Carol Patton T’S CERTAINLY IMPORTANT to help employees build their retirement funds, but should college and university employers be doing more? e September Human Resources column featured best practices from HR professionals about how they prepare employees for retirement. Most provide workers with periodic financial projections, online investment tools, and a variety of workshops that focus on retirement savings growth. Besides the financial aspect of retirement, more attention may need to be paid to the other side of retirement, one that’s often overlooked—the emotional aspects of this stage of life. For some, the emotional consequences of retirement can be severe, producing feelings that range from isolation to lack of self-worth. While most higher education institutions support employee assistance programs, people may shy away from seeking counseling. Others falsely believe they can handle the transition when just the opposite is true. So some IHEs have programs to help retirees adjust to their changing lifestyle. COLLECTIVE EFFORT In 2002, Northeastern University and other Boston schools created a program under the umbrella of e Boston Consortium, a group of 14 local colleges and universities that create initiatives to address common issues. Five of those IHEs piloted a project that brought together faculty from their schools to talk about the transition from their current role to the next phase of their life, explains Kater Pendergast, vice president of human I Retirees may shy away from seeking counseling through support programs. source management at the university. “Some of the richness of the program was that it was done together,” she says, adding that participants also represented faculty from Boston College, Wellesley College, Tufts University, and Babson College. “ ere’s this whole other 30 years that people want to be prepared for.” e program focused on all aspects of retirement. Would employees have enough retirement income to live on? How would they spend their time? What purpose would fill their lives? A series of group meetings and individual sessions (with partners or spouses sometimes included) was led by consultants with expertise in developing programs for mature adults. e semesterlong program ran each year between 2003 and 2006. e program idea itself, however, wasn’t a quick sell, in part because of its hefty $4,000 per person price tag. Still, Pendergast says, roughly 50 people in total attended the three separate programs. Twenty were from Northeastern. Each school promoted the program differently. At Northeastern, people in the provost area identified potential participants while Pendergast solicited individual faculty and opinion leaders for their participation and referrals, which she says proved to be very effective. Her institution is considering the program again for next year. Meanwhile, HR periodically invites retired faculty to a luncheon so they can stay in touch. “ e most common comment from people who retire is, ‘I wish I had done it sooner,’ ” Pendergast says, adding that “all of them said, ‘I should have done more planning.’ ” HOLISTIC APPROACH Misconceptions about retirement are fairly common. In July, the MetLife Mature Market Institute (MMI) surveyed more than 1,200 working people between the ages of 55 and 65 about retirement income issues. Almost seven in 10 (69 percent) overestimated how much they could withdraw from their savings each month. Forty-three percent believed they could withdraw 10 percent or more each year while still preserving their principal, even though most retirement experts suggest no more than 4 percent annually. More than half (60 percent) underestimated life expectancy, while 49 percent underestimated the amount of preretirement income they’ll need during retirement. Worse yet, 45 percent Carol Patton is a Las Vegas-based freelance writer who specializes in covering HR topics. November 2008 | 23

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of University Business - November 2008

University Business - November 2008
Editor's Note
College Index
Company Index
Advisory Board
Behind the News
Sense of Place
Human Resources
Financial Aid
Money Matters
Community Colleges
Expansion, without the Red Tape
Coming to You by Video
Challenging Authority
Road Tour
What's New
End Note

University Business - November 2008