Sadly, Miyako Chiyo, the oldest person in Japan and the world, recently passed away. She was an incredible 117 years old.
This news was brought to me, surprisingly, by my 11-year-old son. As we discussed the news together, we talked about the age to which he might live. Some estimates show that half of the 11-year-olds in the US today are expected to live beyond the age of 104. In Japan, with one of the world’s most rapidly aging populations, this increases to 107.
Miyako reportedly put down her long life to eating sushi and getting eight hours sleep a night. Jeanne Calment, who was the oldest person ever recorded at age 122, and other centenarians, reportedly enjoyed the regular consumption of chocolate. If only it was that simple to live well as we live longer.
Have you read?
Longer lifetimes mean many people need to be earning and saving for longer. In fact, most people today do not expect to retire at all. Mercer’s Healthy, Wealthy & Work-Wise research suggests that 68% of individuals globally don’t plan to ever retire or expect to keep working past a traditional retirement age, either out of financial necessity or choice.
As people are staying productive well into their 60s, 70s and even 80s, older workforces are growing rapidly around the world. In Japan, the proportion of the working age population aged 50-64 is expected to reach 38% by 2030; while in the UK the only growing labour pool is the over-50s.
But older workers are today the group most likely to be involuntarily retired. Looking forward, older workers may also be the group most at risk of losing their jobs to artificial intelligence and robots as the Fourth Industrial Revolution disrupts the way we work. This underscores the need for a widespread change to how we think about work, retirement, lifelong learning and reskilling.
We can all benefit from greater acceptance and more accommodation of working later into life. Increased productivity and earnings for individuals in later years would go a long way to improving the solvency of government pension systems. Organizations can retain older workers’ significant experience and knowledge and benefit from more productive, age-diverse workforces. Individuals who work for longer are likely to see improved physical, emotional and cognitive health, plus, of course, greater financial security.
We must determine how to better enable older workers to contribute professionally by reappraising biases toward older people and eliminating ageism. Organizations have a significant role to play.
Here are three ideas to get started:
1. Assess your organization’s demographics: internal labour market (ILM) maps and other tools can be deployed to ensure an evidence-based approach to understanding current and future workforce demographics.
2. Incorporate ageing into talent strategies: organizations must rethink how they attract top talent, have plans to develop talent as their businesses evolve, and have strategies to keep older talent in the workforce for longer.
3. Retire retirement: organizations and individuals will benefit from a more open and transparent dialogue and policies regarding retirement. Organizations and individuals should actively plan for how valued workers can continue to contribute to an organization perhaps in an entirely different capacity.
With such a significant majority of people expecting to continue working, the time has come for us all to actively plan to retire retirement.