2012 – European Year for Active Ageing
The transition from employment to retirement for
employees of international organisations –
A qualitative research in Organisational Psychology
by Dagmar Freudenstein
Lunchtime Conference
Tuesday 28 February 2012, JMO - M5, 1 PM
Change as a constant of life
„There is nothing
permanent but change“.
Heraclitus of Ephesus
(ca. 500 B.C.)
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„But this structure of the
office I did not miss, after my
retirement. I put my briefcase
in a corner, and today, three
years later, it is still there,
still not unpacked.“
Retired EU official
 Background
 Psychology of Ageing
 Methodology
 Questions – main themes
 Questions – in detail
 Results
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Retirement is literally a life changing event in the existence
of every employee.
What might happen if after retirement both the geographical
and the social context change radically, as it is often the
case when EU employees retire?
>>> Starting point of this research.
Switzerland is very advanced in retirement research.
State of research for employees of international
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Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 25/4/2011
Psychology of ageing
 Old age ≠ Dementia;
 The cognitive abilities can be maintained throughout
life and do not necessarily decline with old age.
 One’s own perception of ageing and the expectations of
the environment are decisive for the process of ageing.
 The concept of „Self-efficacy“.
 Change of attitude towards: „The greyer the world gets,
the brighter it becomes“ (The Economist, Vol. 397).
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Methodology 1/2
 Qualitative content analysis of interviews.
 Target group: employees of a European institution.
 Eight interviews by means of a detailed questionnaire,
 of which six were transcribed completely and two
 Languages used: German and English.
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Methodology 2/2
 Composition of target group:
 Six pensioners (retired for three to five years);
 Two employees prior to retirement.
 Gender balance.
 No participant stems from the place of employment.
 Countries of origin: Germany (largest group), England,
Italy, Finland and Sweden.
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Questions – main themes
 Personal expectations and experiences.
 The social environment.
 The geographical environment.
 Identity and employment.
 Society’s demands and expectations.
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Questions – in detail – 1/3
 Personal expectations and experiences:
The timeframe for preparation.
The retirement course.
Own ideas of the time after retirement.
Similarities with other transition phases.
Structure and meaning in the new life phase.
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Questions – in detail – 2/3
 The social environment:
 Family.
 Friends.
 Former colleagues.
 The geographical environment:
 The place of residency after retirement.
 The influence of the family.
 What is „home“?
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Questions – in detail – 3/3
 Identity and employment:
 Self perception and employment.
 What changes after retirement?
 Society’s demands and expectations:
 The image of ageing in society and
expectations of the environment.
 Society and employment.
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Results in a nutshell
 A timely preparation for the time after employment is
of utmost importance.
 Relevance of family and friends on the choice of the
future place of residency.
 Careful reflection on the future place of residency –
combined with a thorough reality check.
 Significance of having a structured every day’s life.
 Perception of the self does not always correspond with
the expectations of the environment (and does not need
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“Age is an issue of mind over matter.
If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter”
Mark Twain
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Thank you for your attention
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28 February 2012