Why companies must adapt to the long-tenured worker


In 2016, London Business School professors Andrew J. Scott and Lynda Gratton published “The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity”, a self-help book for our longer lives. . Now they’re back with a sequel: “The New Long Life: A Framework for Thriving in a Changing World,” with tools for individuals, employers, higher education and government to meet the challenges. longevity. In this excerpt, the authors explain why and how employers need to better serve their older workers.

It is imperative that corporate practice catches up to the needs of a 100-year life, the ebb and flow that a 60-year career entails, and the flexibility that new technologies will demand.

Life in three stages is deeply rooted in companies’ approach to their workforce: young people are recruited after leaving full-time education; The “high potentials” are promoted in their late twenties and have accelerated several other rungs of the promotion ladder and a hard stop is set for those in their late fifties or mid sixties.

In a multi-stage life, careers become non-linear: there are periods of full-time work; time spent taking breaks to recharge or rebuild skills; and time to achieve better work-life balance. So, rather than running the risk of losing valuable workers embarking on a new stage, it makes sense for companies to offer their workforce the opportunity to increase and decrease their work commitments.

See: Why the coronavirus could pinch your social security in years

Sponsoring educational breaks, sabbaticals or periods of charitable work in the community is one way to achieve this.

How some companies are evolving

Fortunately, some companies are starting to broaden their approach to the entire talent pool.

The reception of people who have taken up to two years of sick leave is at the heart of an initiative by the British telecommunications company O2. He runs an 11-week paid program to redirect people to full-time work. Barclays Bank has designed an apprenticeship program that targets all ages, including those laid off mid-career or who have decided to take early retirement.

Longer, non-linear career paths also require new thinking about promotion. They can do this by providing employees with the opportunity to expand their skills in side roles and in doing so create more flexible career ladders or career networks that will also facilitate rise and fall.

One of the major lessons of longevity research is the malleability of age and the potential it has to enable people to be economically productive until the age of 70. Yet many people are currently prevented from working longer by a company retirement policy at age 65 or 60 or even earlier.

This needs to change – and quickly.

Why new policies for older workers are essential

While some companies offer older workers the option of continuing to work, few have created a systematic way to help people work until the age of 70 or 80. Instead, they offer employees a binary choice; either full-time work or full-time retirement. It is far from what people want or need.

One way to do this is to design optional retirement paths, including the option to continue full-time as well as more flexible and progressive paths until the end of work.

Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi US: MSBHY
created an independent company, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, to specifically harness the skills of workers past the traditional retirement age. These focus on managerial positions, but the odd-job economy offers the opportunity to reshape retirement for a wider range of workers.

Age and salary

Now is also the time to speak openly about age, promotion and salary.

A major obstacle to extending professional careers is the implicit link between age and salary. In many industries, wages increase over time with the length of employment. The result is that older workers become more expensive and are therefore often the first to be made redundant in times of economic downturn.

Lily: How bleak is the outlook for aging in America?

It takes real social ingenuity to meet this challenge. One of the solutions is to develop more flexible wage structures combined with more flexible approaches to working time. Many workers over 60 would like to continue working, but often not on the same full-time basis.

Another problem that companies need to address is age discrimination. The AARP reports that two-thirds of workers aged 45 to 74 report being victims of ageism. At the root of this ageism is the belief that older workers are less productive and that older workers are physically constrained and unable to work.

Also see: Why millions of older workers will pay a high financial price – forever – for the coronavirus

However, there is surprisingly little strong evidence showing the relationship between age and productivity, and certainly no simple correlation.

In addition, not only are older people on average in better physical health than in the past, but the role of physical labor is diminishing. This effect is expected to become even stronger in the coming years, as robotics supports physical labor performance and AI serves as a kind of cognitive prosthesis.

The link between longevity and technology will become more and more powerful in the future. It is therefore crucial that companies adapt now, not only to enable human development, but also to ensure their own success.


About Author

Comments are closed.