A major shift in how Australians envision their retirement and workforce participation has emerged, driven by the desire for more flexibility, financial security and connection during the later years. This transformation is a central finding of a new demographic report commissioned by Amazon Australia[i] to gain insights into the evolving landscape of Australia's workforce.

The report—Australians at Work: Over 55s—marks the first in a series of comprehensive studies exploring the dynamics of Australia's workforce, and was produced in partnership with Bernard Salt, noted Australian demographer and founder of The Demographics Group advisory. Among other findings, it highlights how seven out of 10 Australians now see work as an inevitable part of retirement, with the vast majority of workers hoping to transition from full-time work to part-time, casual, or flexible work in their later years.

Neil Hughes came out of retirement when he realised he could enjoy life more and afford extra holidays driving for Amazon Flex.

Here are three key takeaways.

1. A new life stage has emerged: The Lifestyle Years

Driven by changes in needs, values and aspirations, 73% of Australian workers said they were keen to continue working during retirement, but that their work needed to fit their lifestyle. As a result, the report found that an entirely new life stage has emerged for people aged between 55 and 69 who continue to work, but who shape their work to align with their lifestyle choices—a period coined The Lifestyle Years.

The Australian Bureau of Statistics[ii] confirms that 2.7 million Australians over the age of 55 are actively engaged in the labour force, making up 19% of the total, and that the participation rate for workers aged 55-64 has jumped from 48% to 70% in the past two decades.

The Demographics Group’s Salt noted that retirement is one of the major milestones that now occur at a later stage. “We are now doing more later in life: leaving home later, getting married later, starting families, retiring! What this research partnership with Amazon Australia has discovered is a new period in the lifecycle known as The Lifestyle Years.”

Graphic showing how life expectancy in Australia has changed from 1950-2023.

2. Over 55s seek flexibility, financial security and connections through work

Australians aged between 55 and 69 are also searching for more flexible options in careers that keep them active and align with their passion.

The report found that that almost 25% of retirees had changed careers in the last five years to stay active, reduce stress, switch pace, and give back and stay connected to the community.

“A change-of-career job later in life creates new work relationships, helps fund retirement plans, and keeps over 55s connected to the wider community,” Salt said.

Sydney-based former removalist Neil Hughes came out of retirement to become an Amazon Flex Delivery Partner to generate some extra income and still allow him time for family commitments and regular holidays.

“I can pick and choose the hours I work—and if I need to take a day off, I do,” he said.

3. Over 55s prioritise fulfilment over full-on work

The report also found that holidays, hobbies, and healthcare take priority for Australians aged between 55 and 69, and that unfulfilling or mentally taxing employment takes a back seat to more satisfying endeavours.

Brisbane-based delivery associate, Lynda Blake, is a former primary school teacher who decided to change careers so she could have more time to enjoy the things she loves and spend time with her with her grandson. “I wanted something totally different, something with reduced stress and that would keep me active,” she explained.

Graphic showing the labour force participation of over 55s in Australia from 2000-2023.

Jacqui Marker, HR operations director for Amazon Australia, said: “As the Australians at Work: Over 55s report highlights, many Australians over 55 are choosing work opportunities that enable them to have greater control of their time, a change of pace and move closer towards their financial goals.

“At Amazon Australia, we have seen first-hand the benefits our team members from this cohort bring to the workplace, most significantly in the positive impact they’ve had on younger colleagues.”

You can dream big at Amazon and build a career in anything from robotics and film production to the environment and trendsetting. And with 81 different job categories there really is something for everyone! Meet five Aussie Amazonians who love their jobs.

Amazon is passionate about providing quality jobs for all kinds of Australians, no matter their life stage or priorities. We offer casual, part-time, permanent and on-demand opportunities and, with 25 locations across the country, for many we offer the opportunity to work close to where they live.

To delve deeper into the evolving landscape of work for Australians aged 55 and above, access the full report here. And follow the series as we explore the changing nature of Australia’s workforce, and how we work, play and plan for our future.

[i] The research was commissioned by Amazon Australia and was conducted by Lonergan Research in line with the ISO 20252 standard. Lonergan surveyed 1,405 Australians aged 18+. Surveys were distributed throughout Australia including both capital city and non-capital city areas. The survey was conducted online amongst members of a permission-based panel, between 16 and 27 of June 2023. After interviewing, data was weighted to the latest population estimates sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.

[ii] Australian Bureau of Statistics, Labour Force Detailed