‘Queue jumpers’ aren’t waiting for retirement

It seems many Australians aren’t planning for their official retirement age to shrug off the daily grind, and bad bosses aren’t helping.

study published in the Journal of Organizational Behaviour has found a subset of Australian workers – dubbed the ‘queue jumpers’ – who are planning to retire well before retirement age, often prompted by wanting to get the best out of life and feeling poorly supported at work.

The study used data from surveying almost 500 workers aged 50 and over to ascertain why so many were considering retirement.

Traditionally, it was thought mostly workers in poor health sped up their approach to retirement, but the study also found many healthy workers were also accelerating their plans.

It found that older workers had a rising perception of time running out but their good health allowed for a choice between remaining in work or active retirement.

Low manager support

“The findings show that over a two-year period, in contrast to other older workers whose retirement intention remains stable, individuals in consistently good health but with low manager support demonstrate a growth in intention to retire,” the report found.

The report said the ‘queue jumpers’ were speeding up their retirement process relative to other older workers.

“This novel result helps explain recent trends. Even though life expectancy has increased in the last decades, retirement age has declined,” the report stated. 

“Many aspects of the meaning of work may have paled for them when the perception of time running out motivated them to consider what else life has to offer.”

Research co-author Professor Carol Kulik, from the University of South Australia, says if more people healthy older people are leaving work earlier than previous generations, that may have consequences for employers.

“Retirement intentions are no longer linked to a fixed age, when pensions become available,” Prof. Kulik says.

“Changes in wealth and income, longer life spans and a desire among active older adults to make the best of their life before poor health sets in, are all reasons why people might choose retirement over work.

“In the past, health, wealth, workplace-related factors, and family variables were major predictors of retirement, but there is a new motivation that hasn’t been previously considered – the passage of time.

Reassessing priorities

“Growing awareness that life is finite sets in at around 50 years when people start to reassess their priorities. 

“They become less concerned with future work goals and more interested in the present. Relationships with family and friends also become more important.”

The study found that as well as people wanting to enjoy their retirement while their health was still good, many were also motivated by unsupportive workplaces.

It was found that employers who do not value employees or discriminate against them risk losing experienced, valuable productive workers.

It also recommended rethinking the workplace environment to keep valuable workers and ‘pause’ their retirement plans.

“Hybrid office and working from home arrangements often suit older employees as they are removed from onsite discrimination that is prevalent in many workplaces,” Prof. Kulik says.

“This also gives them a bridge into retirement, allowing them to reduce their hours but continue working.”

A separate study by the Australian Human Rights Commission found more than one in four (27 per cent) of working Australians aged 50 years or older had experienced some form of age discrimination in the workforce.

The likelihood of discrimination increased as the workers’ age increased.

Are you considering early retirement? Does this reasoning resonate with you? Why not share your experience in the comments section below?

Also read: Am I eligible for the downsizer scheme?

Jan Fisher
Jan Fisherhttp://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/JanFisher
Accomplished journalist, feature writer and sub-editor with impressive knowledge of the retirement landscape, including retirement income, issues that affect Australians planning and living in retirement, and answering YLC members' Age Pension and Centrelink questions. She has also developed a passion for travel and lifestyle writing and is fast becoming a supermarket savings 'guru'.


  1. I retired 5 years ago. I am only aged pension age now. I was offered a redundancy so instead of finding another job in the company I took the redundancy. Even through COVID times I had enough to keep me entertained. My husband did the same a few years earlier than me but got casual jobs when he felt like it. We have travelled overseas and some places in Australia, organised the daughters wedding, Enjoyed ourselves. My husband has lost 5 members of his family in that time. 2 younger than him. We have lost many friends only 1 older than us. So we are grateful for the time we have had to experience retirement before we got too old to enjoy it

  2. My Government department gave the opportunity for voluntary redundancy. I could either work for 3 more years for 3 year’s salary or not work again and get one year’s pay. Fortunately I would also be paid out a lot of leave owing so it wasn’t a hard decision.

  3. A marriage “hiccup” meant that I returned to work after an early retirement. I’ve been back in the workforce for 3.5 years and my hubby and I, THANK GOD, are now reunited!! HOWEVER, circumstances mean that I am now looking to working to at least 66 before retirement (unless we have a lotto win that is!! 🤣😂). Just been promoted to a new position which means more $$ so may be quicker. All up? I’m happy we are back together. I’m happy with my new wage and my new role. BUT, bloody hell, I’m still wishing I was retired!!

  4. I retired 19 years ago. From a younger age I could see that most people who lost their jobs after age 50 have great difficulty in finding a comparable job, so my strategy was to be financially independent from that ago onwards. When after years of mutual trust and managing multi-million $ budgets my employer introduced poorly written, 2 year work contracts that trust was lost but I was well positioned to jump.
    Of course When I made it known that I had reached a tipping point I was assured that I had totally misunderstood the purpose of the contracts but the message was clear, it was in the contracts!
    Trust and loyalty works both ways, you’d think CEOs earning $ millions would be smart enough to realise that.

  5. Que jumpers is an interesting term. Any person retiring is effectively freeing up either a job or a promotional step for someone else.
    After 30 years in a Commonwealth Government job I was fortunate to be in a superannuation scheme that made it possible for me to retire from that job at 54 and 11 months with a modest pension and lump sum. The situation in the Department was such that overall morale was poor and it was almost a mental health issue that it was fortunate for me to go at that time.
    it was very curious to think that I had a nominal life expectancy of another 40 years.
    Not everything goes as expected though with interest rates plummeting which adversely affected the investment earnings that I had counted on for the comfort pocket money.
    The retirement has meant that I had the freedom to engage in some otherwise limited opportunities and at least start reading the library that I had acquired over the years.
    If a persons expectations are realistic, early retirement opens the world, but be wary as there maybe unexpected situations in that world.

  6. Don’t know about que jumping and why you use that term ..I was able to retire at 55 back in 2004 following a earlier redundancy package from a multinational company and then a couple of jobs until that date..Was never one of those who lived to work ,rather worked to live. Saw the kids through full education and also gave them a small start up in life..all due to taking an overseas posting with the multinational company and then investing every spare dollar back into super during that time.
    Upon retirement our funds balance was under 1 million dollars but we owned our home outright and then set about to really enjoy our life and freedom.
    Lived intrastate and even overseas for a number of years and caught up with much travel and life experiences sacrificed during work life.
    Now 73 and while we did make some financial mistakes along the way we still run our own SMSF and while on a part pension , life is still comfortable and enjoyable.
    Our experience was if you want to retire early then make sure you have sufficient funds ( not millions) and get your self financially literate so you can have enough control and understanding of your finances to know when to spend and when to pull back…Oh ..and life is still good and full of opportunities, thanks to doing those early hard yards.

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