Where goes the aging workforce? Is it as if there is a cliff just beyond the foreseeable horizon, where legions of aging workers suddenly drop away?
Public news headlines and discussions in the field of human resources have been talking about this for years now. And there is current evidence that many people over 55 (in North American at least) will be asked, or will themselves ask, to stretch out their term of organizational employment. For some, this just moves the edge of the cliff a little more out of view.
Labour market statistics and projections aside for a moment, from the countless client conversations I have had over the last few years, business professionals in later life career are surely interested in working longer, but it’s not about keeping a job. It‘s about working differently in a foreseeable future. Where’s that cliff again?
Looking at a 10 – 15 year horizon from a median age of 55, the word career takes on new meaning and it is more about creating and recreating a portfolio of options. Crafting a portfolio takes time, research, visioning and support from others. Charles Handy as he talks about the chunking of our lives in The Elephant & the Flea says, “the old chunks of work and non-work don’t function any more. We have to invent new chunks.”
It’s a new mind-set for many. It’s a new work mythology. And it’s episodic.