‘By the time you’re 50, you have half a million hours of life and work experience – it’s your most valuable asset’
Age Diversity is the Future of Work – by Gwendolyn Parkin, Director of Integral Career
Given that predictions are that we will now be living longer, even up to 100, we will also be working longer, and the workplace will become increasingly age diverse. Each generation will have something different to add to the overall impact of the organisations they work in, through the sharing of skills with the age diverse colleagues. Here’s how to make the most out of an age diverse work place:
USE IT OR LOSE IT
A much longer life span has a huge impact on our working lives. By 2045, over-65’s will be 25% of our population (source: ONS). That’s thanks to fabulous medical innovation; but we also know, from a neuroscience perspective, that if we don’t use the brain guess what happens? It deteriorates. And one of the best ways to use the brain, is to work (especially doing something new which encourages rapid brain growth).
As well as longer lifespan, there’s been a huge technological revolution, which has also affected the workforce. There are now four generations with different skills in the workplace. We have Baby Boomers in their late 50-60s, Generation X who are in their 50s, Generation Y (40s), Millennials (30s), and now Generation Z (20s). So we have at least four generations who have been brought up very differently throughout these massive changes.
WATCH AND LEARN FROM THE FILM ‘THE INTERN’
There have been a number of studies describing the different skills and assets belonging to each of those types of generations. For example, Baby Boomers (aka Robert De Niro in the film The Intern) have good relational, communication and leadership skills.
YOUR BRAIN DOESN’T ‘GROW UP’ UNTIL THE AGE OF 28
As you go down the generational scale to Z-ers, you get real technical skills and in between you have a combination of the two. Baby boomers might be more experienced and skilled when it comes to leadership but younger generations are more adept to technology because the brain isn’t mature until we’re 28 (it’s roughly 25 for women and 28 for men). This means although I can, as a baby boomer, learn a lot about technology, it won’t be as natural as it would for a 20-something, who is absorbing new information at a deeper level at a much younger age as their brain reaches maturity.
Analyse your Most Valuable Asset
Your Work and Life Experience. Multiply your age (Age X 8760 hrs per year we are alive). Identify and evidence your skills and achievements to really understand the value you can create and transferability. Very few people have done this properly, so this can set you apart. At Integral Career, we help clients to work this through this process.
Set up a self-employed business. We should all have a portfolio career at any age to encourage flexibility, employability and skill development in the gig economy. The employer or industry will no longer be the centre of your career, you will be.
Research the Future of Work
Keep up to date with this unprecedented tech revolution context we are in, by watching Ted Talks https://engageme.online/ted-talks-future-of-work/and you will find numerous resources. In particular, try Andrew McAfee’s What Will Future Jobs Look Like.
Learning on the Job
Find role models who have skills you don’t possess. If you are a baby boomer, boldly approach the gen-Xers with tech questions; if you are gen-Xer or younger, chose a baby boomer with outstanding leadership, commercial or resilience skills who can mentor you as a boss or in other roles.
Training and Development
There are numerous organisations emerging to provide development and skills essential to the Future of Work. The School of Life https://www.theschooloflife.com/london/, The General Assembly https://generalassemb.ly/ and Decoded https://decoded.com/en-gb/ all help to de-mystify the role of technology in the workplace.
Know How Your Mind and Brain Work
Through science, and other disciplines, we know more than ever about how the human brain and mind work. Yet many are not aware how this technical age impacts us, or that the mind and brain can change remarkably at any age: check out Dr. Dan Siegel’s website http://www.drdansiegel.com/ for a lifetime of ideas on how can get the most out of your most valuable asset and enjoy age diversity at any age.
Gwendolyn is Director and Principal Coach of IntegralCareer (www.integralcareer.co.uk) a consulting firm she founded in 1993.
She is a leading executive coach, with extensive experience coaching senior and board level clients in a wide range of sectors, including financial services such as retail, banking, private equity and insurance; property, FMCGs, media, health care and legal among others. Gwendolyn has worked in the US, UK, Europe and Asia, has EU and US nationality, and speaks German.