In an earlier post, we spoke of how the mid-career crisis  affects organizations and can lead to loss of valuable talent. As a professional who is responsible for mid-career employees, what can you do?

Help them improve their wellbeing

If you directly manage mid-career employees or you are engaged in Talent and Culture conversations with them, you might have noticed that they are held accountable for getting results from the junior team members while also expected to implement the strategic and policy decision of the leadership. It is a tightrope act that can take a toll in today’s VUCA environment, especially as middle age comes with many social and biological changes which include added caregiving responsibilities, greater financial burdens, and dipping energy levels.

To help them get their groove back, Kelly Waffle from Hinge Research Institute, suggests more in person work related social events. He advises against virtual meetings however, as this segment of employees are more likely to be managing virtual conversations with multiple departments and employees already and will find further virtual interactions less fulfilling.

Help them find meaning 

For many, the cause of a mid-career slump is not stress or overwork, but a lack of stimulation. In such cases, workplace culture expert Serenity Gibbons recommends offering them more lateral responsibilities or a relocation opportunity, but only if the employee indicates that he or she has the time, energy, and freedom to do so. For those who are missing a sense of purpose, she also suggests supporting employee-driven volunteering opportunities by accommodating such activities around their work schedule and giving them a greater sense of agency in such projects. Mentorships also offer mid-career employees the chance to tackle a sense of ennui as well as the opportunity to give back, as they present a chance to learn and grow as mentees while also giving back to the organization and to the next cohort of professionals as mentors.

Help them focus on the future

A huge element of the mid-career crisis is the feeling that things haven’t turned out the way you planned in your early years, which leads to a sense of disappointment that is often coupled with diminishing aspirations. Managers and HR professionals will need to work hard to help mid-career professionals focus on their future, whether that means a change in direction or a recalibration to stay on top of their goals.

Encourage those going through a mid-career crisis to do a bit of soul searching and understand exactly what is causing the sense of malaise. Sometimes, they might be able to narrow it down to a specific unfulfilled goal or a particular area in which they have felt stifled. With the newfound clarity, you could see whether it’s worthwhile to offer them new learning opportunities or the services of a career coach.

Besides these tips, the solution to rising above a mid-career crisis seems to lie in the U-shaped curve we discussed earlier. Jonathan Rauch, writer and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, noticed that just speaking to middle-aged people about the U curve made them feel better about their mid-life satisfaction slump. Today, he makes it a point to tell others that they are not alone in feeling like this and it will only get better from here. And with a little help from our organization and peers, each one of us eventually will pass the dip of a mid-life career and move forward to a golden second half, professionally and personally.

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