Retirement support – a systems approach

These resources are specifically for emergency service organisations who want to improve their systems and culture to support older and transitioning workers.  The should be read in conjunction with the ESF Transition to Retirement systems framework and the planning for retirement resources that is listed in the ‘individual’ directory of this Knowledge Hub.

Policy templates

Ageing Workforce Ready have developed sample policies relating to the fitness and wellbeing of older employees in the workplace in the areas of:

Management Guides

Ageing Workforce Ready have developed tools to support policy implementation by providing guidance for HR and managers around:

Policy templates and management guides should be implemented with the support of this policy change management brochure.  It provides information to guides HR teams to implement new policies and covers topics such as the need for consultation and buy-in, and how to adapt the resources to create a smoother transition for your managers and employees.

In response to a rapidly ageing population, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have developed a set of policy recommendations based on research to give older workers around the world more incentives and better choices around how they work as the age.

Flexible Work

In addition to a flexible work policy and management guide, Ageing Workforce Ready have developed the following resources to help managers have conversations and plan for flexible work with team members.  These are:

VicSES has developed a Support  Accommodation Plan tool to support managers to plan for accommodations that may assist an employee to remain at work by exploring the psychological, emotional and cognitive job expectations and develop strategies that support the employee’s success on the job.

Conversation guides (Ageing Workforce Ready)
  • Flexible work: This brochure gives step by step advice for managers to have conversation with their team members about flexible work. It provides a list of options that support your employee to work safely, and in a way that protect their mental health and wellbeing, and sustains their ability to effectively do the job. 
  • Late career: The purpose of a late career conversation is to give employees a framework to help them plan their late career transition. By helping them plan, and giving them tools, managers can identify what team members need to stay engaged or become more engaged with their job.
  • Pre-Retirement: The purpose of a pre-retirement conversation is managers to understand where a team member is placed in relation to their transition to retirement. This brochure gives managers a framework and tools to assist team members actively plan, including how to get back on track when an employee’s retirement plans have been derailed by an unexpected event of decision paralysis.  This activity has the benefit of giving managers an understanding of what an employee needs to stay engaged with their job, or else to begin the process of letting go of their work and moving on to retirement.
  • Retirement: This brochure helps guide managers to have informative conversations with their team members about retirement which help to establish a connection and encourage individuals to plan their transition out of the workforce.  It dispel common myths, and prepares managers to think about for life beyond work.
Planning Support
ESF‘s ‘retirement for individuals page‘ has several planning tools and resources to recommend to employees.  This includes a guide to help team members reset their retirement plans if they have been derailed by unexpected events or decision paralysis.
Exit interviews – Developed for the ‘Workplace Strategies for Mental Health’ series by Canada Life, this brochure guides HR/managers to have retirement and exit interviews
Transition Brochures

The Australian Defence Force’s ‘Member and Family Transition Guide’ is a comprehensive and best practice approach for communicating issues and strategies for exiting an organisation.  The information has many parallels with emergency service organisations.

Ambulance Victoria’s ‘Looking Forward to Retirement’ is a leading practice example of a transition guidebook for agencies.  It prompts employees to reflect and plan on transitions at different time periods – specifically 10, 5, 2 and 1-year – before retirement.  It also includes a list of resources and planning tools.


The collection and use of meaningful ageing workforce related data is an effective way to guide strategic planning, create buy-in and make informed decisions. Ageing Workforce Ready have developed the following three resources to build “people metrics” which can be used to support decision-making.

Creating the data 

  • The “Metrics Dictionary” contains examples of the types of data that may be relevant in an ageing workforce dashboard. Commentary has been included to highlight the significance of the data and other relevant information like trends, industry benchmarks and things to look out for.

Representing and reporting data

  • The “Dashboard Introduction” document outlines process for designing, creating and updating dashboard.  Dashboards provide a concise and intuitive display of key indicators and metrics. Depending on the underlying data collection methods, it is possible to introduce a level of automation in managing it.
  • The “Report Example” illustrates how a report could look once it has been designed and created.

Developing a methodology

Better Evaluation is a web-based resource for finding methods to answer your evaluation questions and processes to plan and implement an evaluation.


This is the third of three reports that presents findings from a study by Dr Darja Kragt about the challenges career firefighters’ face in relation to retirement. It summarises the first report, a literature review on retirement, the second report, the results of a mixed methods study into firefighters’ retirement experiences, and provides recommendations for addressing retirement issues. The study was funded from South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (SA MFS) and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) in Western Australia.

This study by Gignac et al (2022) ‘Workplace Disclosure Decisions of Older Workers Wanting to Remain Employed: A Qualitative Study of Factors Considered When Contemplating Revealing or Concealing Support Needs. Work, Aging and Retirement qualitatively examines workplace disclosure support decisions among workers aged 50 years and older. The findings highlight challenges experienced by older adults in remaining employed and barriers to communicating their needs. Results underscore the importance of greater attention to ageism within organizations, the need for age-inclusive policies, and workplace flexibility to promote job sustainability across the life course

The Emergency Services Foundation has conducted four studies of issues, challenges, and needs of retired and retiring Emergency Service Workers.

  1. Retiree experience: a qualitative study (2021)

A qualitative study to better understand the challenges people face when they retire from a career in the emergency services was conducted by Right Management. Based on their experience as the contracted Commonwealth Provider for transition support for the ADF, they undertook 30 semi-structured interviews in September and October 2021 emergency responders who have retired in the last two years to learn of the challenges they faced in their retirement journey.

2. Literature review: Leaving service and retiring well

Dr Sarah Hewat (Learning Network project manager) conducted desk research on mental health and wellbeing challenges and programming solutions for retiring and retired emergency responders. This report provided key findings and insights about issues and challenges of retirement for emergency responders from Australian and international literature. It also provided a scan of best practices resources and programs for retirement and transitions and analysed the elements of best practice retirement and transition support. 

3. Volunteer retirement experience (2020)

A study undertaken by students from Worcester Polytech Institute (WPI) explored how emergency service volunteers could be better supported as they transition to retirement. The students spoke with agency managers, experts, and older volunteers from across the sector and concluded that there is much room for improvement in how emergency service volunteers are supported in their transition to retirement. Five recommendations were made.

4. Retirement in the Victorian Emergency Services Sector (2019)

Four students from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts (USA) assessed the current landscape of retirement support, identified the needs and concerns of retirees based on interviews with personnel from ten emergency management organisations, and formulated recommendations for a holistic transition to retirement program for Victorian emergency service workers,