Retirement or multigenerational workforce

Let us look at the traditional meaning of the word Retire. It was initially used in the military sense. That is “to withdraw to a place of safety or seclusion.” It was taken into English from the French language – ‘re’ (back) and ‘tirer’ (to draw).

In the good old days, there was a time when youngsters would get into the organized workforce in their early to mid-twenties and exit the crew in their late fifties or, at best, early sixties.

It would cover a work span of approximately 30-plus years. Several exciting things are now happening at the same time. At the startup stage, kids, even in their late teens, are getting into the workforce.

As parts of the world move towards better affluence and development, men and women are choosing to stay single, get married late, or have very few or no children based on the lifestyles they wish to pursue. The world continues to undergo a massive demographic transformation. Because of advances in medicine, average lifespans are increasing, and globally, the number of people aged 60 and over is projected to double to more than 2 billion in another two decades. That will be approximately 25 percent of the global population. And those 60 and over will outnumber children under the age of 5.

Populations around the world are going to look very different in the next few decades. While leadership and mentoring coaches train the world to look at solutions within the problem, this is one area where not much thought has gone into converting a perceived problem into an opportunity area. Whether it is the area of development of products and services, how innovation is unlocked, how office spaces are designed, or whether it is talent recruitment, soon the workforce will likely include people from as many as five to six generations.

For some reason, the message is wholly ignored. We can see that there are hardly any young global decision-makers in governments. These very same older people create 20-30-40 year vision plans for countries. And some of them do a terrific job. And yet, the same decision-makers and corporate leaders have probably to realize the unprecedented ways that aging will change the game’s rules.

Strangely, all articles worldwide talk about this as a looming crisis. Not as an opportunity area. Yet, suppose one were to look around. In that case, whether it is in the world of corporate or government, these so-called elderly provide emotional stability, complex problem-solving skills, nuanced thinking, and institutional know-how. Their talents complement those of younger workers, and their guidance and support enhance performance and intergenerational collaboration.

While some older adults most certainly do suffer from disabling physical and cognitive conditions or are otherwise unable to maintain an active lifestyle, while many others chase the dream of early retirement to sit back and live what is their idea of enjoyment, far more are able and inclined to stay in the game longer, disproving assumptions about their prospects for work and productivity. Women in their late fifties and beyond have probably met most of their family obligations by that age.

These men and women are, by and large, of a generation who are motivated, knowledgeable, adept at resolving social dilemmas and care more about meaningful contributions and less about self-advancement. They are more likely than their younger counterparts to build social cohesion, to share information and organizational values. And indeed less likely to keep changing jobs for the sake of small increments. Many wish to leave a different kind of legacy.

Today it is considered socially unacceptable to ignore, ridicule, or stereotype anyone based on gender, race, or sexual orientation. Strangely, it seems to be still acceptable to do this to people based on their age.

Young workers can most certainly benefit from the mentorship of older colleagues, and a strong team always combines the energy and speed of youth with the wisdom and experience of age. Most such intergenerational organizations have better survived the ups and downs of business and geo-political cycles.
This transformative movement to realize the potential of the 21st century’s changing demography will be the next big test for the government, corporate, and HR leadership. Ignoring the realities of the demographic shift which is happening globally is no longer an option. Pro-active governments and senior leaders must put the issue front and center. This will take guts and persistence.
Government-public sector-private sector partnerships would require a lot of close collaboration, expertise, and experience from those who have witnessed several upturns and downturns.
It is becoming more apparent that leaving material wealth as a legacy is proving inadequate. Seventy percent of global SMEs create almost 70 percent of corporate employment. A better legacy can be left behind to sustain a better job.
With the combined issues of geo-political turmoil, mutating business models, the rapid shift to the online, the likelihood of more frequent pandemics, and de-globalization, all happening simultaneously, Multigenerational teams would stand a better chance of corporate, country, and employment success.
The authored article is written by by Mr Niranjan Gidwani and shared with Prittle Prattle News exclusively

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