Saturday, March 15, 2008 | 2:06 a.m.
When asked what retirement will look like, few people would envision an office cubicle, it would seem.
Reuters News Service reported this week that a new poll released by SecurePath by Transamerica, a retirement services company, shows that a third of American workers 50 and older don’t think they will have enough money to retire. And more than two-thirds of U.S. workers in that age group plan on working well beyond typical retirement age, the survey shows.
It could make for an interesting demographic around the water cooler (depending on how many workers in an office still know what the water cooler is).
Money Magazine reported last year that 60 percent of the nation’s human resource managers say they have observed generational conflicts in the workplace. Right now, four generations of people could conceivably be sharing a workplace.
The situation can be wonderfully creative or fraught with misunderstanding, depending on how older and younger workers perceive each other. Thousands of Web sites offer tips on how to help generations mesh in the office — including the AARP site, which advises older workers to embrace new technologies.
And although most Americans in the first poll say they see themselves working well past retirement age, a recent article by AARP suggests it may not be entirely of their own doing. Skilled nurses and teachers, for example, are in such high demand that their supervisors practically beg them to stay on.
More likely, however, people nearing retirement age will scale back their careers, either by cutting their hours or choosing more flexible lines of part-time work. And many will do so because the benefits of working are not only financial. Work provides people with social interaction and mental and physical activity — all of which are important for growing old healthfully.
Whatever the scenarios, it is evident that saving for what could be 30 years of self-imposed unemployment isn’t a goal every worker is confident of achieving. How this will affect the job market for younger workers is anyone’s guess.
For now, anyway, the future of America’s workplace may be a gray area — in more ways than one.