Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

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jehovasfitness
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Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by jehovasfitness » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:39 pm

I'm going to assume it's a big no-no, but figured I'd ask here as it partially relates to my previous thread about my wife's commute.

The city gov't I work for has 1 communications position which has been filled for quite some time.

Part of me is curious as to how much longer the person in the role plans to stay as when she leaves it would be great if my wife applied for the position. Totally separate building by the way.

Is it acceptable to ask a co-worker such a question, especially someone you're not close to and only see them few times per year?

Neither of us is in a managerial role.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by abner kravitz » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:49 pm

Not a good idea.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by Broken Man 1999 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:49 pm

Not something I would do. Seems a bit personal since by your statement you aren't close friends. Some people are very private, as well, and probably wouldn't wish to discuss such matters.

If I were in their shoes, if asked such a question, I'd probably say, "It's none of your business."

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by jehovasfitness » Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:51 pm

That's what I assumed. Figured it didn't hurt asking here first

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by soccerrules » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:02 pm

i think you can do it under the right circumstances.

if there is a company wide gathering and an opportunity to "mingle". Make small talk and then transition into.

How long have you been with the Company ? Same role ? -blah blah blah.
Still enjoying the work ?
Are you looking for the exit ramp after X years ? (if the retirement/pension program is widely known - Yrs of service + age=80) Then you could ask -- you HIT the magic number. Thinking of jumping out ? (add you might be tempted to do it)

You might be surprised what they share. Or if they tend to dodge your questions then you might not get the information you want.
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by montanagirl » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:17 pm

Funny, in the last couple years of my job, when I knew things were shaky, one of the project managers used to stop by my office and tell me his retirement plans. Not when, but how long until FRE, what he was planning to do (start a boutique furniture making business in his shop) and he'd go on and on. I'd say wow, that's great, yeah it's getting close for me, too, etc. He admitted he'd cashed out his 401k in 2009. No fool, he!

I think now he was trying to *hint* that I should be thinking about such things, in case I hadn't been. But I was a Boglehead by then and had things set up pretty well. . I just wasn't going to tell anyone about it...soon he stopped talking to me and I got laid off.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by jehovasfitness » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:23 pm

soccerrules wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:02 pm
i think you can do it under the right circumstances.

if there is a company wide gathering and an opportunity to "mingle". Make small talk and then transition into.

How long have you been with the Company ? Same role ? -blah blah blah.
Still enjoying the work ?
Are you looking for the exit ramp after X years ? (if the retirement/pension program is widely known - Yrs of service + age=80) Then you could ask -- you HIT the magic number. Thinking of jumping out ? (add you might be tempted to do it)

You might be surprised what they share. Or if they tend to dodge your questions then you might not get the information you want.
Yeah, my manager is retiring next month so maybe I'll be like, "we going to be doing this all again for you soon?"

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by livesoft » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:26 pm

Your spouse could take her out to lunch and do an "informational interview" as in asking questions about how to get a job like hers, whether she enjoys it, headaches, etc.
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by carolinaman » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:29 pm

Retirement plans are something most people keep close to their vest. It is not a good idea to ask her as she would likely feel you were being intrusive.

I worked in public sector for 28 years. The last few years of work, I was often asked this question which was annoying. I usually gave a non answer.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by Fallible » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:40 pm

carolinaman wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:29 pm
Retirement plans are something most people keep close to their vest. It is not a good idea to ask her as she would likely feel you were being intrusive. ...
Agree. And I would guess that she might respond to the question with another: "Why are you asking?" A truthful answer: "Because my wife might like your job." I don't know what the reply might be, but OP, I think you can see it might not go well. Consider what you might say if someone you don't know well asked when you are retiring. :shock:
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by Goal33 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:43 pm

jehovasfitness wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:23 pm
soccerrules wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:02 pm
i think you can do it under the right circumstances.

if there is a company wide gathering and an opportunity to "mingle". Make small talk and then transition into.

How long have you been with the Company ? Same role ? -blah blah blah.
Still enjoying the work ?
Are you looking for the exit ramp after X years ? (if the retirement/pension program is widely known - Yrs of service + age=80) Then you could ask -- you HIT the magic number. Thinking of jumping out ? (add you might be tempted to do it)

You might be surprised what they share. Or if they tend to dodge your questions then you might not get the information you want.
Yeah, my manager is retiring next month so maybe I'll be like, "we going to be doing this all again for you soon?"
That sounds like a rude question to ask...
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by FIREchief » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:49 pm

jehovasfitness wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 2:39 pm
I'm going to assume it's a big no-no, but figured I'd ask here as it partially relates to my previous thread about my wife's commute.
I don't think this is a "big no-no," since you are not in management. Inappropriate? Awkward? Sure. Illegal or unethical, not likely.
Part of me is curious as to how much longer the person in the role plans to stay as when she leaves it would be great if my wife applied for the position.
If you are willing to possibly irritate somebody and get a "go away" response, you may decide to explain the situation to the current employee just as you have above. There is always a chance that the person will be understanding and maybe even give you an honest answer. In my years at Megacorp, I found it very interesting (and entertaining) to watch how older employees communicated their retirement plans. Some would go on and on for years about how they were leaving on a certain date. I saw one guy who did this to the point where his department just offered him an early layoff with separaton pay to his planned retirement date. This current employee may take great pride and joy in telling you when they are going to finally achieve "freedom." Others will proudly tell you that they are going to work until God takes them home. You might get a useful answer. 8-)
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FIREchief
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by FIREchief » Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:53 pm

Goal33 wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:43 pm
jehovasfitness wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:23 pm
soccerrules wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 3:02 pm
i think you can do it under the right circumstances.

if there is a company wide gathering and an opportunity to "mingle". Make small talk and then transition into.

How long have you been with the Company ? Same role ? -blah blah blah.
Still enjoying the work ?
Are you looking for the exit ramp after X years ? (if the retirement/pension program is widely known - Yrs of service + age=80) Then you could ask -- you HIT the magic number. Thinking of jumping out ? (add you might be tempted to do it)

You might be surprised what they share. Or if they tend to dodge your questions then you might not get the information you want.
Yeah, my manager is retiring next month so maybe I'll be like, "we going to be doing this all again for you soon?"
That sounds like a rude question to ask...
Yeah, it's a bit rude, but nothing that crosses any lines (as long as the asking party is not in management). I used to get asked that a lot at Megacorp. At best, I would just tell them "well, I am eligible in xx months" and leave it at that. This wasn't really telling them anything, as many of the old guys would openly discuss "how long we still had to stick it out."

Besides, retirement plans are just like vacation plans (or most other life plans). They mean something until you change your mind.
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gogleheads.orb
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by gogleheads.orb » Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:20 pm

I do it, but I realize it is basically calling someone old. or rich. either way is is rude, so I probably shouldn't.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by afan » Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:23 pm

Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see the point of asking or why it would be useful to know.
Right now, the position is occupied and the job is not open. So no one can apply for it.
If the person currently in the job were to retire then the job would become open and it would be possible to apply for it.

How does knowing when the current holder of the job will retire help?
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by FIREchief » Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:35 pm

afan wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 4:23 pm
Maybe I am missing something, but I don't see the point of asking or why it would be useful to know.
Right now, the position is occupied and the job is not open. So no one can apply for it.
If the person currently in the job were to retire then the job would become open and it would be possible to apply for it.

How does knowing when the current holder of the job will retire help?
I think you're assuming a functional workplace where open positions are properly posted and time is allowed for all eligible candidates to apply and be given proper consideration. OP mentioned city government. If it's a smaller municipality (or any size for that matter), things may not always work the "right" way. That's just reality, and unfortunately it still exists in many places.
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by jehovasfitness » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:02 pm

It allows us to plan

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:09 pm

jehovasfitness wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:02 pm
It allows us to plan
Man makes plans, God laughs.
What is your contingency plan if this job falls through?
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by downshiftme » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:15 pm

jehovasfitness wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:02 pm
It allows us to plan
Not likely. It allows you to plan if you get an honest and correct answer. Most people like to keep their retirement plans private and if there is any risk you might pass on the info, you are very likely to get a politically correct answer, such as I intend to work here for many more years, whether that is true or not. If you plan based on misinformation you might be disappointed when the real situation emerges.

If someone asked me such a question, I'd likely report the breech of normal workplace etiquette to my manager, at least. I'd expect some HR action to counsel the questioner. Not appropriate.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by TravelGeek » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:33 pm

Maybe it's different in the public sector, but I wouldn't share my retirement plans with anyone at work until the day when I hand it my notice.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by stan1 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:38 pm

Interesting comments so far. Where I work (in a government job) many people talk casually about retirement plans years in advance. Some are dreamers, some enjoy their jobs and would miss coming to work, some have specific plans, some have kids/grandkids/parents they are supporting, some don't know what they would do if not working, some say they will have to take me out on a gurney to the morgue. It's a little unusual just to call someone up randomly and ask "when are you going to retire" but it's often an openly discussed topic among people who interact on a regular basis. I've noticed few people follow through with the plans they've discussed years in advance.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by FIREchief » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:44 pm

downshiftme wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:15 pm
jehovasfitness wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:02 pm
It allows us to plan
If someone asked me such a question, I'd likely report the breech of normal workplace etiquette to my manager, at least. I'd expect some HR action to counsel the questioner. Not appropriate.
I highly doubt that there would be any "HR action." More than likely your manager, if a newbie, might seek HR guidance just to ensure he/she didn't have any real required action. Armed with such guidance, the manager would likely sit down for five minutes with the inquisitor and cousel them that older employees might be offended by such questions. He/she would then spend five more minutes with you and tell you with a very serious look "we've taken appropriate actions in response to your concerns." He/she would then spend the rest of the day working on real issues, with a lingering minor annoyance that they had needed to waste ten minutes babysitting. Later, with other management brothers and sisters, he might share the story so that they could all have a good laugh. That's how it "really" works.
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by fandango » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:46 pm

Bad idea.

He'll tell you if he wants you to know.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by Jack FFR1846 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:50 pm

You may not get the truth. If anyone asked me that, I'd make up a story. My younger son is still in high school and I can't stop working till he's done with grad school.

The real story? Probably 2 years from now, I'll be gone.
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by FIREchief » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:52 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:33 pm
Maybe it's different in the public sector, but I wouldn't share my retirement plans with anyone at work until the day when I hand it my notice.
A person after my own heart! Why so soon though? Assuming a proper two week notice, why set yourself up for two weeks of annoying questions (how are you going to spend your time? Why aren't you sticking around, don't you love us? Won't you be bored?) and empty congratulations (we'll miss you so much! I am so happy for you!).

I sent an email to real friends at 10:30 am on my last day and stopped by a few offices during check out. A few PMs with people in the immediate area just before leaving my office for the last time. My boss told me the last time I spoke with him that when he eventually retired he was going to do it the exact same way.
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by FIREchief » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:54 pm

fandango wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:46 pm
Bad idea.

He'll tell you if he wants you to know.
That's just it. There is always the chance that this person is supportive and really is willing to share the truth. Not sure the down side of trying (unless the person is a real psycho....)
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by TravelGeek » Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:58 pm

FIREchief wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:52 pm
A person after my own heart! Why so soon though? Assuming a proper two week notice, why set yourself up for two weeks of annoying questions (how are you going to spend your time? Why aren't you sticking around, don't you love us? Won't you be bored?) and empty congratulations (we'll miss you so much! I am so happy for you!).
I'll create an FAQ for that. :twisted: :beer

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by rebellovw » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:01 pm

Bad idea - but perhaps worth asking how long both his parents have lived for. :twisted:

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by michaeljc70 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:07 pm

No. But you can tell her that if she ever decides to leave her job, you would appreciate a heads up because you may know someone that is interested in the job. She may offer some information then. She may not.
Last edited by michaeljc70 on Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by cfs » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:18 pm

NO WAY Jose.

I would never ask that question to anyone, and I am glad no one at work ever asked me about my retirement plans (I don't have a sense of humor, so, my reply was going to be less than diplomatic).

My team learned about my retirement plan AFTER my two-week notice letter was hand-delivered to the head of my contracting team.

Good luck with your interrogation techniques !!!!

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:35 pm

How old is this person? Do they seem to be in good health? Have they been there long enough to qualify for the pension?

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by jehovasfitness » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:01 pm

quantAndHold wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:35 pm
How old is this person? Do they seem to be in good health? Have they been there long enough to qualify for the pension?
Best I've gathered is she either graduated HS or college in '81.

She had a major health issue 2 yes ago or so and missed an extended period. Other than that not sure. If I had to guess I'd say 60.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by FIREchief » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:26 pm

TravelGeek wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:58 pm
FIREchief wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 5:52 pm
A person after my own heart! Why so soon though? Assuming a proper two week notice, why set yourself up for two weeks of annoying questions (how are you going to spend your time? Why aren't you sticking around, don't you love us? Won't you be bored?) and empty congratulations (we'll miss you so much! I am so happy for you!).
I'll create an FAQ for that. :twisted: :beer
Yeah, I could have taken that approach, but a FAQ with every answer being either "none of your business" or "I don't expect to miss anything" might not be the most productive. :twisted:
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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by quantAndHold » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:14 pm

jehovasfitness wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:01 pm
quantAndHold wrote:
Fri Apr 13, 2018 6:35 pm
How old is this person? Do they seem to be in good health? Have they been there long enough to qualify for the pension?
Best I've gathered is she either graduated HS or college in '81.

She had a major health issue 2 yes ago or so and missed an extended period. Other than that not sure. If I had to guess I'd say 60.
Someone who graduated HS in 1981 would be 55. If she’s been working for the city for 30 years, she might qualify for the pension now. It’s often age plus years of service equals something (85 is common). That doesn’t mean she’s required to retire. And it doesn’t mean that your wife would get the job if she did retire. I would keep an eye on the person and the job, but make other plans in the meantime.

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by downshiftme » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:16 pm

Being 55 also doesn't mean that random co-workers should be approaching to say "Gee, you're old. When do you plan to retire so my wife can take this job?"

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Re: Appropriate to ask co-worker when retiring?

Post by invst65 » Fri Apr 13, 2018 9:39 pm

My boss called me into his office for a private talk one day and he asked me what my thoughts were about retiring. I was around 65 at the time. I told him I planned on working a few more years but eventually I realized he was asking because he had to lay some people off and if I was planning on calling it quits any time soon he figured it might as well be me.

The year I turned 67 I started dropping hints that I wouldn't mind so much if I got laid off and shortly after my 67th birthday I got called into his office again. This time it was to let me know the end had arrived and I was out the door for good after a brief visit to HR. It was about a year earlier than what I had in mind but I got paid for doing nothing for half of that year so it wasn't so bad. Truth be told, it was a bit more of psychological shock than I anticipated but as of today I have no regrets. Probably should have happened sooner.

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