You get up every morning from your alarm clock's warning
Take the 8:15 into the city … to get to work by 9.
That's what the rock band Bachman-Turner Overdrive sang in their 1970s hit song, "Takin' Care of Business," and you might shudder to think it's all about you and how there's no end in sight.
Yes, working well into your 60s and even 70s is a pillar of many retirement plans these days. But you can often find ways to scale back and gradually step away from your job.
Clocking in at a reduced schedule allows freedom to focus on the other parts of life, such as family, travel and volunteering, while still earning a paycheck and employer benefits to keep your financial safety net in place.
"As people live longer and in good health, retirement is becoming a more active life stage, with more people looking for the opportunity to combine work and leisure," says Catherine Collinson, president of the Transamerica Center for Retirement Studies. "Many workers have retired the notion of fully retiring at age 60 or 65."
The hitch is that employers have been slow to adopt phased-in retirement in a formal way.
According to a survey by the Transamerica Center, "The New Flexible Retirement," 61 percent of workers in the U.S. envision a "flexible transition" to retirement. But only 25 percent of workers 55 and older said their employers actually offer the opportunity to shift from full-time to part-time arrangements. And just 4 percent of that age group say that they have employers that offer skills retraining to help them carry out this transition.
Why the foot-dragging by employers? "They simply don't want another benefit that may be subject to laws and regulations, as a formal program probably would," says Sara E. Rix, an employment consultant and former senior adviser with the AARP Public Policy Institute.
"The companies that do offer their employees phased retirement typically worry about losing too much skill too fast," adds Chris Farrell, author of Unretirement: How Baby Boomers Are Changing the Way We Think About Work, Community and the Good Life.
But some companies are making the leap. Take Herman Miller Inc., a Zeeland, Mich.–based furniture manufacturer where about a quarter of the workforce is 55+. The company has a program that allows employees to take 6 to 12 consecutive weeks off during the year. They aren't paid during that time, but they keep their benefits and length of service.