70 is the new 55. Let’s prepare for that.

Millennials will constitute 75% of the workforce, by 2030. This is an important statistic for employers. But, let’s switch lenses a little, and talk about the Baby Boomers – the ones millennials are replacing.

Global workplaces are expected to experience a ‘Silver Tsunami’ over the next decade – a phasing out of the older generation, from active professional engagement. According to Investopedia, Baby Boomers are retiring at the rate of around 10,000 employees a day! But, is it time for us to say a complete goodbye to their skills and experience? Absolutely not.

Market research indicates even that generation is shifting its expectations around retirement, and wants to craft a different career path, post the age of 65. More so, because of increasing life expectancies. The Department of Health and Human Services, USA, says the average life expectancy went from 76.8 years in 2000, to 78.8 in 2014. What’s pushing them to keep working? The reasons aren’t necessarily financial. The Street conducted a survey, and found the following:

  • 18% are working to stay mentally sharp.
  • 15% are working to stay physically active.
  • 15% are working to maintain a sense of purpose.

How can you accommodate this in your organization’s culture? We have some ideas:

Design part-time or flexible schedules. With age, comes a desire for flexibility. Merrill Lynch found that 71% of pre-retirees would like to include some work in their retirement years. However, most ask for a range of choices in their work styles/ timings – on the job part-time, remotely, or with the ability to mix periods of work with periods of leisure.

Offer consulting opportunities. Considering this age group (60-75) has had a full career and a full life, there is ample they can offer in terms of strategic inputs, human development skills, financial growth ideas, building organizational systems, and even change management. Offering them consulting projects of varied durations, is a powerful way to optimize their skills. A common best practice – having them as active advisory board members.

Invite them as mentors or experts. Choose a field of expertise – accounting, leadership, innovation, or even productivity – and pair seniors with millennials in mentoring relationships. According to Prof. Peter Cappelli, Wharton School of Business, the greatest asset older workers bring is experience — their workplace wisdom. “They’ve learned how to get along with people, solve problems without drama, and call for help when necessary.”

As we address a range of ‘-isms’ in our workplace cultures, ageism is a real one in that list too. Can someone above the age of 60 not contribute effectively to a company’s growth? We invite you to challenge that.

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