Chris Knight

Chief Executive Officer, Legal & General Retail Retirement

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Is volunteering the key to a happy retirement?

Research shows that the people who are happiest in retirement are over twice as likely to have found purpose in something other than work, as our retail retirement CEO Chris Knight, found first hand.

“I get such a buzz from it and the team at the centre are fantastic. It’s so enjoyable. As well we keeping me busy, it has kept my brain active”, so says Val from Ossett; a former travel agent, stroke survivor and grandmother of five.

There are millions of other Vals volunteering all over the country and their efforts improve our society and our quality of life. Many of those people, like Val, found their way to helping society by getting in touch with Royal Voluntary Service, which has been helping volunteers since 1938. Since Legal & General began a formal partnership in 2014 my colleagues have run hospital cafés, pushed the on-ward retail trolley on its rounds and, between them, they have contributed 8,000 hours of service for our society.

I do my part by volunteering with The Samaritans and I can’t emphasise enough the importance of modern businesses engaging in the success of our society. Real business is about more than simply profitable transactions. At Legal & General we call this commitment to better business ‘inclusive capitalism’, and one of the ways we have been engaging directly in society is by supporting the Royal Voluntary Service campaign to ‘step-forward’, and volunteer.

For older people, maybe those who are transitioning out of full-time 9-5 work, volunteering can help to fill up the gap. As Val says: “I’m a get up and go person, I don’t like sitting around at home and so by helping others I can help myself too”.

Legal & General supports millions of people who are either saving for their retirement or using their savings during retirement. The very idea of retirement is changing around us all. The 20th century versions of work (often a ‘job for life’) and pensions (often fixed incomes) created the 20th century version of retirement; it’s what we call ‘carriage-clock retirement’. But the world changes and 21st century retirement is changing too.

As one of the ‘young old’, Val is using her time and skills to help the ‘old-old’.

21st century retirees are making their own ‘DIY-retirement’ that includes a mix of work, volunteering, home improvement projects, caring for others, hobbies, wellbeing, and learning new skills – it is a long list! Research we conducted with the Royal Voluntary Service shows that the people who are happiest in retirement are over twice as likely to have found purpose in something other than work (39% v 17%) and almost twice as likely to look after their grandchildren (30% v 17%). The findings showed that retirees are also seven times more likely to be using their skills and talents (28% v 4%) and four times more likely to be exercising (33% v 8%). Building your own colourful retirement is an important part of ensuring your wellbeing.

We asked psychologist Jo Hemmings to analyse our research findings and she said: “When you give up work it can feel like a huge sense of loss but actually it doesn’t have to be that way. Retirement is an exciting phase of life, but the emotional jolt of leaving work, its routines and friendship circles, can bring with it loneliness and a lack of fulfilment. Getting involved with your local community is the best way to make sure you have the right ingredients for a content and meaningful retired life."

Over the past year the equivalent of 1.3 million new volunteers stepped forward; maybe after you’ve read this blog you might join them?

... I can’t emphasise enough the importance of modern businesses engaging in the success of our society. Real business is about more than simply profitable transactions.

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