The three-stage life no longer exists as the retirement age keeps increasing. Experts argue that you’re going to be working well into your 70s. Are you prepared?
Lynda Gratton has spent her career looking at the future of work. The renowned academic is bringing her latest findings to AHRI’s National Convention in August 2016. Gratton, Professor of Management Practice at London Business School, has spent the last three years modelling work, life and retirement in an age of longevity. The 100-Year Life co-authored with Professor of Economics Andrew Scott is the result.
Those 55- to 65-year-old staff members within your organisation have mostly followed a typical and well trodden three-stage life path involving education, career and retirement, she says. It is a pattern with which the corporate world has become familiar and comfortable, a reliable and mostly predictable journey around which modern-day HR practices have been built. But this pattern is about to be smashed, says Gratton.
“If you’re likely to live to 100 and want to retire on 50 per cent of your salary, which most people want to do, then you have to work into your late 70s or early 80s. We quickly realised the three-stage life – education, work, retirement – was impossible. Who can work from 21 to 75 non-stop?”
Modelling the future of work on a figure called ‘Jane’, who is currently in her 20s, Gratton posed the questions: What sort of work would Jane be doing? What would it mean for her family relationships? What would it mean for the community she lives in and for her leisure time? And what are the implications for government policy and corporate strategies?
What Gratton and colleagues came up with in response was the ‘six-stage life’.
“When we modelled the scenarios for Jane, some of them had up to six life/career stages,” Gratton says. “Some of those are new. For instance, we expect more people to be freelance at some stage of their career. They will work either on their own or in a small team because technology platforms are being built that will allow people to do so quite easily.
“Notably, she could easily decide to travel during her career or go back into education for a period of time to upskill or re-skill. We think people are going to be much more thoughtful about building portfolios where they do multiple things. People are already doing that, but I don’t think it has emerged as a recognised stage.”
The increase in Jane’s longevity, coupled with the rampant pace of technological advancement, introduces an entirely new set of challenges for HR professionals. From recruitment to retention to retirement, and everything in between, new processes will have to be developed to successfully provide an organisation’s flow of human resources and, indeed, to encourage individuals to manage their own life stages, says Gratton.
Rather than focussing on how much Jane should be paid, or where exactly she will need to be located, Jane and her employers will instead need to think about what it is that will allow her to be more productive, agile, healthy, and what will give her the power to constantly change and re-invent, says Gratton. “How can Jane be offered a true and innately satisfying level of work-life balance, rather than the lip-service that is usually paid to such an idea? How can a career that continues into one’s 80s be made realistic, practical and enjoyable?”
But Gratton is optimistic about the future, especially in the challenges posed for HR. “I think HR management roles will become more fascinating and more creative. Managing the career of Jane will require more skills and a more individualised and tailored way of thinking about current practices and processes.”
Professor Lynda Gratton is a speaker at AHRI’s National Convention from 3 to 5 August 2016 in Brisbane. To check event details and register, click here.