Counseling Program Eases Transition : Polaroid Workers Try Out Retirement
When Allen Metcalfe got ready to retire after a 17-year career making camera prototypes for Polaroid Corp., he was given three months to prepare himself for a life of leisure.
If he didn’t like it, the company would have taken him back, no questions asked.
Polaroid officials said they established the three-month “rehearsal retirement” program because many employees find the adjustment traumatic, and some would rather keep on working.
“From the morale point of view, this is a biggie,” said Joseph Perkins, Polaroid’s corporate retirement manager.
It only takes a year of experience at Polaroid to be eligible for the 10-year-old program, but interested employees also must gain approval from an immediate supervisor. Most participants are in their late 60s, Perkins said.
Only 40 to 50 of Polaroid’s 13,000 employees have opted for the tryout retirements, Perkins said, adding that the company continues to offer the program solely as a good-will gesture.
“There’s no management decree pushing for this,” said Perkins, whose office counsels potential retirees on retirement options and gives advice on spouse relationships, hobbies, forming businesses, doing volunteer work, relocating, second homes, life styles and finances.
Metcalfe said Polaroid’s retirement office advised him that he needed time to decide what retirement would do for him.
“When I was getting ready for retirement, I didn’t know whether I was going to like it,” he said. “I didn’t know if I’d fit in with it or what was going to happen. It was a very, very uncertain thing.”
During his three months off, Metcalfe, of Weston, Mass., spent more time participating in what had previously been a hobby: polishing stones.
“Now I’m into lapidary work, making custom jewelry,” said Metcalfe, 73.