On retirement, in-laws and entitlement | Inquirer Business

On retirement, in-laws and entitlement

This pandemic [taught] me how important work is,” says D, who heads operations in their manufacturing family business. “Before the pandemic, I counted the days till vacation, which was my only bonding time with my children. But when operations closed in April to June last year, I realized that I missed work. I [previously told my father] I wanted to retire at 60, so he should quickly groom his successor. But now I am not sure I want to retire at all. What do you think?”

My reply: People who find their lives to be useful and meaningful are significantly less likely to develop health issues like dementia and depression. According to the US National Bureau of Economic Research, Americans who stop work at age 62 increase their mortality rates by 2 percent due to retirement and negative lifestyle changes.

Companies mandate retirement age primarily to bring in new blood. Longtime employees also cost more to retain. But this does not have to be the case in a family business.


In fact, “older workers are reservoirs of accumulated skills, experience and tacit knowledge,” says National University of Singapore lecturer Jeff Hwang Yi-Fu in The Straits Times. “The more an organization can transmit these assets to younger workers as part of its knowledge retention, the more edge it will gain over its competitors. Organizations with a multigenerational employee profile can benefit from mentorship to attract young talent. Intergenerational cross-pollination of ideas and perspectives can yield a dynamic and rich environment for innovative thinking.”


Traditionally, retirement age was also viewed as a time when people finally get to enjoy the fruits of their labor. But with longer life spans (71 years in the Philippines), if you are healthy and productive, why retire?

Whatever your decision, your father needs to train and choose worthy successors.

My advice: continue working, but perhaps at a decreased pace to also make time for your family.


“My husband’s family prohibits in-laws from entering their family business,” says S. “In-laws cause problems. But I am highly qualified and I want to help my husband and his family. How can I make them understand?”

My reply: The issue of in-laws is sensitive. In-laws can sometimes be of help (“Turning in-laws into assets,” Dec. 6, 2013). But they often cause problems especially for the person caught in between (“In-laws? No, outlaws,” Nov. 29, 2013).


You don’t want to force your husband to choose between you and his family in case things don’t work out.

The in-law ban is a business decision, so don’t take it personally. Your husband’s family is not rejecting you as a person, but they want to avoid potential problems.

Follow your passion, set up your own business without competing with his. That’s the best way to help him and his family.


“My cousin wants a job for his son in my business,” says T. “My children are working with me, but my nephew is lazy and incompetent. Should I give in?”

My reply: I cannot make the decision for you. Perhaps you can help your cousin in other ways that will not harm your business, dismay your own children, and alienate your cousin and nephew.

Take heart that you are not alone. Oil tycoon J. Paul Getty treated his sons like other employees and they started at the bottom.

“They served customers in filling stations,” Getty said in his biography. “They sold gasoline and lubricating oil, filled batteries, changed tires and did their share of cleaning grease racks and sweeping the premises. Yet innumerable casual acquaintances have blandly asked me to do them a favor and give their sons, or unemployed relatives, executive-level jobs. They never seem to understand why I turn them down and almost always become highly indignant when I do.”

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There are no easy ways to deal with entitlement. Good luck. INQQueena N. Lee-Chua is with the board of directors of Ateneo’s Family Business Center. Get her book “All in the Family Business” via Lazada and the e-book version on Amazon, Google Books and Apple Books. Contact the author at [email protected].

TAGS: Family, pandemic

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