BLOG ARTICLE | By Debbie Mitchell
|BLOG ARTICLE|||||By Debbie Mitchell||25th September 2018|
Our lives are getting longer. According to research by the ONS, the typical life expectancy is around 80 years old, and although the rate of increase in life expectancy is slowing, it is expected to rise over time. Changes to our lifestyles, improvements to our environments and advances in healthcare and medical research are enabling us to live longer.
It is predicted that for children born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, life expectancy could be 100 years or more1. This means our working lives are likely to get longer. We are fitter and healthier than our parents, and the idea of retiring in our early to mid-60s can feel too early - physically and mentally.
For many, financial limitations will also necessitate working longer. Statutory pensions won’t fund our lifestyles and many people are joining workplace pensions too late so can’t save enough. For Generation X, we’ve seen statutory pension dates pushed back and retirement ages extended until they were officially removed through the Equality Act 2010’s statements on age discrimination. So now, we can work forever. Yippee!
In their book, ‘The 100-year life: Living and working in an age of longevity,’ Gratton and Scott highlight some of the challenges - or opportunities - that an extended life can present. Let’s look at how organisations can encourage engagement at work in response to these.
We will have older workers
We’re much more likely to now have workers in their 70s and 80s; maybe even beyond. To maintain their engagement at work, we may need to think about:
We will stay younger for longer
‘Middle-age’ hits at a very different time in the 100-year life. It’s not in our late 30s anymore; instead mid-life is hitting in our 50s. Apart from that, lifestyle, health and finances mean we can live full lives, feeling younger, for longer. Employers should consider offering:
Jobs will change and the skills we need will be different
Today’s jobs certainly didn’t exist when I left school - digital, customer success, blogger, business partner, social media specialist. These are all new terms that have evolved with business and technology changes. And many more traditional roles could disappear with the development of AI and robotization. This means we need to:
In a 100-year life, we’re likely to experience more life stages than just childhood, working life and retirement. People will experiment more and keep their options open - it could lead to mid-career changes, late education, career breaks, being self-employed or running your own business. To maintain engagement through these various stages we should:
It’s possible that we’re not financially prepared for a 100-year life, as pensions, savings and investments may not have considered a potential retirement of 30+ years. As a result, financial planning will matter to employees, who now have to consider either making up a shortfall or long term planning for a longer future. Employers should consider:
Transition will be the new normal
During this longer life, people will experience more change - they may even encourage, embrace and enjoy it. People don’t typically dislike change, they just don’t like having it done to them. So to keep people engaged through change, personal or business, you could:
This isn’t just an issue for the future. Our 100-year life is in progress, so taking a proactive approach in supporting employees through the various stages, challenges and opportunities will help to engage employees, encourage retention and add value to your employer brand.
Next time, we’ll be recommending some great TED Talks that you can tune into to engage you, your people managers and your teams.
1. Gratton, L., & Scott, A. (2016). The 100-year life: Living and working in an age of longevity. Bloomsbury Publishing.