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Recent UK retirees’ views about the work-related factors which influenced their decision to retire: a qualitative study within the Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) cohort

Recent UK retirees’ views about the work-related factors which influenced their decision to retire: a qualitative study within the Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) cohort
Recent UK retirees’ views about the work-related factors which influenced their decision to retire: a qualitative study within the Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) cohort
Background
Lower birth rates and increasing longevity have resulted in ageing populations in European countries. These demographic changes place challenges on pension provision as numbers of those who are economically inactive and retired increase relative to those in paid work. Therefore, governments need workers to postpone retirement and work to older ages. Whilst health and wealth are important in retirement decision-making, considerably less is known about the effects of workplace factors. The aim of this study was to explore the views of recent UK retirees about the role that work-related factors played in their decision to retire.

Methods
This qualitative study was nested within the Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) cohort. People who had retired 3-6 years previously (not for health reasons) were purposively sampled to obtain the views of men and women from a range of socio-economic backgrounds and jobs. Semi-structured interviews were carried out by telephone using a pre-defined topic guide. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically.

Results
Seventeen interviews were conducted. Thematic analysis showed that retirement decisions were complex and multi-factorial but that work-related factors contributed to decision-making in two main ways. First, some work factors pushed participants towards retirement. These were perceptions that: workplace change had affected the way they were valued or increased pressure on them; work demands, including commuting, had intruded excessively on personal time, effects that were exacerbated by modern technology; work was draining, isolating or under-appreciated; and /or that work was causing physical strain or discomfort relative to their perception of their capacity. In contrast, work factors could also cause participants to pull back towards work, particularly: autonomy; supportive work colleagues; a sense of being appreciated; and perceived job flexibility.

Conclusions
Recent retirees explained that their decision to retire was multi-factorial but work-related factors contributed importantly. Potentially, employers could: review workers’ perceptions about their work; their capacity in relation to job demands; increase flexibility; and facilitate a supportive work community to encourage longer working lives.
Ageing, Retirement, Work
1471-2458
Stevens, Martin
6ed230b2-7eaa-478b-80f7-ea75234bb76f
Barker, Mary
374310ad-d308-44af-b6da-515bf5d2d6d2
Dennison, Elaine
ee647287-edb4-4392-8361-e59fd505b1d1
Harris, E. Clare
3e4bd946-3f09-45a1-8725-d35e80dd7971
Linaker, Catherine
6c6d1b90-ee40-4c96-8b2e-b06efbe030ae
Weller, Susie
6ad1e079-1a7c-41bf-8678-bff11c55142b
Walker-Bone, Karen
ad7d1336-ed2c-4f39-ade5-da84eb412109
Stevens, Martin
6ed230b2-7eaa-478b-80f7-ea75234bb76f
Barker, Mary
374310ad-d308-44af-b6da-515bf5d2d6d2
Dennison, Elaine
ee647287-edb4-4392-8361-e59fd505b1d1
Harris, E. Clare
3e4bd946-3f09-45a1-8725-d35e80dd7971
Linaker, Catherine
6c6d1b90-ee40-4c96-8b2e-b06efbe030ae
Weller, Susie
6ad1e079-1a7c-41bf-8678-bff11c55142b
Walker-Bone, Karen
ad7d1336-ed2c-4f39-ade5-da84eb412109

Stevens, Martin, Barker, Mary, Dennison, Elaine, Harris, E. Clare, Linaker, Catherine, Weller, Susie and Walker-Bone, Karen (2022) Recent UK retirees’ views about the work-related factors which influenced their decision to retire: a qualitative study within the Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) cohort. BMC Public Health, 22 (116), [116]. (doi:10.1186/s12889-022-12541-1).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Background
Lower birth rates and increasing longevity have resulted in ageing populations in European countries. These demographic changes place challenges on pension provision as numbers of those who are economically inactive and retired increase relative to those in paid work. Therefore, governments need workers to postpone retirement and work to older ages. Whilst health and wealth are important in retirement decision-making, considerably less is known about the effects of workplace factors. The aim of this study was to explore the views of recent UK retirees about the role that work-related factors played in their decision to retire.

Methods
This qualitative study was nested within the Health and Employment After Fifty (HEAF) cohort. People who had retired 3-6 years previously (not for health reasons) were purposively sampled to obtain the views of men and women from a range of socio-economic backgrounds and jobs. Semi-structured interviews were carried out by telephone using a pre-defined topic guide. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed and analysed thematically.

Results
Seventeen interviews were conducted. Thematic analysis showed that retirement decisions were complex and multi-factorial but that work-related factors contributed to decision-making in two main ways. First, some work factors pushed participants towards retirement. These were perceptions that: workplace change had affected the way they were valued or increased pressure on them; work demands, including commuting, had intruded excessively on personal time, effects that were exacerbated by modern technology; work was draining, isolating or under-appreciated; and /or that work was causing physical strain or discomfort relative to their perception of their capacity. In contrast, work factors could also cause participants to pull back towards work, particularly: autonomy; supportive work colleagues; a sense of being appreciated; and perceived job flexibility.

Conclusions
Recent retirees explained that their decision to retire was multi-factorial but work-related factors contributed importantly. Potentially, employers could: review workers’ perceptions about their work; their capacity in relation to job demands; increase flexibility; and facilitate a supportive work community to encourage longer working lives.

Text
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More information

Accepted/In Press date: 3 January 2022
Published date: 17 January 2022
Additional Information: Funding Information: This work was supported by grant CF/02/17 from The Colt Foundation. Publisher Copyright: © 2022, The Author(s).
Keywords: Ageing, Retirement, Work

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 454951
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/454951
ISSN: 1471-2458
PURE UUID: c4cbccff-9a6a-4bbe-83f8-5451a086c0cc
ORCID for Martin Stevens: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6142-5278
ORCID for Mary Barker: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-2976-0217
ORCID for Elaine Dennison: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-3048-4961
ORCID for E. Clare Harris: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-8037-566X
ORCID for Catherine Linaker: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-1091-9283
ORCID for Susie Weller: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6839-876X
ORCID for Karen Walker-Bone: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5992-1459

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 02 Mar 2022 17:53
Last modified: 30 Oct 2023 03:05

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Contributors

Author: Martin Stevens ORCID iD
Author: Mary Barker ORCID iD
Author: Elaine Dennison ORCID iD
Author: E. Clare Harris ORCID iD
Author: Susie Weller ORCID iD

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