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Are Retirees Quietly Rejoining the Workforce?

  • Human Resources
  • Article
  • 6 min. Read
  • Last Updated: 02/07/2023

employees sitting around a table together working

Table of Contents

It’s been a tough few years economically in the U.S. The pandemic and inflation have upended peoples’ lives physically, mentally, and financially, making retirement seem even more like an improbable dream than before for many young people. As a result, some are adjusting their retirement goals.

But how is all of that affecting people who have already retired? To find out how many retirees are rejoining the workforce and what the experience is like for them and their employers, we surveyed 930 American employees, current and former retirees, and 206 hiring managers about their feelings on the matter.

Key Takeaways

  • 1 in 6 retirees are considering returning to work, and 53% want remote positions.
  • 55% of retirees went back to work because they needed more money.
  • 74% of returned retirees feel judged by co-workers because of their age.
  • 62% of hiring managers are skeptical about hiring retirees.

The Need To Go Back

There has been a lot of speculation about what inflation and the current economic climate mean for retirement, with some wondering if younger generations will be able to retire when all is said and done. But are these same issues leading retirees back to work as well?

infographic on retirees considering returning to work

Among those we surveyed, one in six retirees are considering returning to work after being out of the workforce for an average of four years. With so many preferring to work from home these days, it’s no surprise that more than half of our retired respondents would look for remote work (53%), 27% want a hybrid situation, and only 20% would seek an office job.

Most would want to work full-time (65%) instead of part-time (35%). This could be due to a need for more money — the reason cited by 53% of respondents. But nearly as many are thinking of going back to work because they’re bored (52%).

Boredom is understandable, especially for those who went from working 40 hours per week to not working at all. For the same reason, it’s not surprising that loneliness was the reason that 43% of retirees are considering working again. But the same number are also doing so because they’re concerned about inflation.

Employment After Retirement

While their reasons may vary, many retirees have already decided to go back to work. Let’s see what prompted them to return to the workforce and how they feel about it now.

the great unretirement infographic

The overwhelming majority of retirees who returned to work have faced judgment from their co-workers (74%); only 3% haven’t. Most of those working in finance (87%), education (83%), and information technology (72%) have experienced such discrimination.

One particular form of ageism that retirees feel they are dealing with when returning to work is younger employees making them feel insecure about their abilities, with 71% sharing this sentiment. With many having to work for employers who are younger than them, we were glad to learn that only 12% of our respondents find this extremely difficult. The majority feel that it’s, at most, only a moderate challenge.

Recruiting Retirees

The state of our economy has pushed many to take serious measures to make more money — workers and retirees alike — such as getting second jobs. Is the competition making it harder for retirees to go back to work? And how do managers feel about hiring them?

hiring perspective on hiring retirees

Our findings show that 62% of hiring managers are skeptical about hiring retirees, but they also shared some potential pros and cons. According to 56% of the hiring managers we surveyed, the main reason for hiring a retiree is their many years of experience. Nearly the same number feel that retirees can make great mentors in the workplace.

But the biggest reason to not hire a retiree is cultural, say 71% of hiring managers. Can these candidates integrate into the current company culture? This concern is followed by uncertainty about their knowledge of industry trends (67%) and whether they still have the skills needed for the job (59%).

When onboarding retirees, the top strategy hiring managers employ is taking it slow (50%) in case they need more time to adjust to the job. The next most common tactic was avoiding abbreviations and jargon that these new or returning hires may not understand (48%), followed by providing templates to help them find their bearings (44%).

Re-entering the Workforce

With concerns about inflation strongly impacting retirement, many retirees have either gone back to work or are considering it. Luckily, many hiring managers see the benefits of onboarding these experienced job candidates, despite ageism being a problem for post-retirees. Hopefully, their return will eventually make the workplace a more inclusive and adaptable place for people of all ages.


For this campaign, we surveyed 930 Americans to explore their retirement plans. Among them, 16% were retired, 22% were still working, and 62% were retirees who had returned to work. We also surveyed 206 hiring managers to explore their sentiments about hiring retirees.

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Fair Use Statement

If you enjoyed our study, you’re more than welcome to share it. We just ask that you link back to these findings and that your purposes are noncommercial.


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* This content is for educational purposes only, is not intended to provide specific legal advice, and should not be used as a substitute for the legal advice of a qualified attorney or other professional. The information may not reflect the most current legal developments, may be changed without notice and is not guaranteed to be complete, correct, or up-to-date.

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