Too Old to Work…..
Too Old to Work?
Most of us think that older workers, lets say between 45-65, are not going to deliver the outcomes that younger workers will. This isn’t really anything new in our thinking and it’s physiologically accurate that as we age we loose physical and mental capacity. However as someone going to turn 50 (yes 50!) next year I don’t see life changing down gears at all and certainly from a societal perspective I have never been busier, what with three teenage kids, weekend sport and some regular exercise there really isn’t enough time in the day. That means my time at work needs to be highly focused and productive, and I want it to be.
The USA and OECD countries are showing a significant trend towards an older workforce and the proportion of the labour force made up of 45-59 year-olds (people like me – and most in my LinkedIn network reading this too just quietly!) will increase from 25.6% to 32% by 2030. Ever increasing demand for skilled people and the increasing educational attainment of older workers are combining to raise the share of older workers further by stimulating higher labour force participation rates.
Even more staggering though is that half the people who have ever lived to the age of 65 in the world are alive today. By-and-large they are fitter and healthier than old people have ever been as well.
What this means is that regardless of the “truth” I discussed at the beginning about youth vs “old age”, we are now going through a period that requires us to challenge the veracity of any prejudice we have about age and find ways to utilize this resource – as wise, experienced, educated and able to contribute that it is. I think changing our approach to learning and who teaches is one of those areas most ripe for ensuring the ongoing contribution of older workers in the labour force. I asked a colleague how to do something on my new phone recently and his answer, “…ask a 12-year-old!, was funny and accurate. If you know, teach, if you don’t, be open to being taught, from whomever. Learning to accept reciprocity in the teaching role based on experience, not time could also bring the demographics closer together, increase respect and grow competence.
How can you challenge yourself and those around you, as you age, to respect the fact that you can and want to contribute for as long as you can!