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Older talent- a gift or a curse?

We live in a world that is changing significantly. The convergence of technology and longevity is changing what the world of work looks like. This brings both opportunity and challenge, depending on one’s skills, health and attitude.

We have a large cohort of youth entering the formal and informal job market. Our legislation is helping to bring transformation economically, but the reality is that we have a large skills gap and challenge in business. How and what can we do to help as the elders?

Employees five years away from retirement are either holding on for dear life or keen to continue beyond their pensions rules. Both these groups face a dilemma. How can we look at this group differently? Can we engage and find the wisdom? Is this group viewed as human capital or human fodder?

The only way to change the conversation is to engage to unlock individuals’ dreams. Individuals need to see sunrise rather than sunset ahead. Longevity impacts on us all differently depending on what life challenges we have had along our journey. We may have lost our health, marriage, not saved enough or have all of these intact but dread getting up every day without purpose. For the baby boomer generation, work has defined us and made us happy. Many are out of their depth without status and routine.

I encourage organisations to engage with this group. Conduct a skills audit around everyone who is five years away from retirement. Use a retirement life coach to engage with this group. Assess the areas where there may be a skills gap and try to start looking for solutions through phased retirement and mentoring.

You may even find that some who are holding on for dear life ask to leave earlier. Encourage this collective skilled resource to engage with some of their time beyond formal work in volunteering in an area of passion and skills. As a nation we have so many needs in the areas of health, education, job creation and crime. There may even be scope for your organisation to become a leader in this space.

Many employees have nightmares about the lack of finances to support a long retirement. Many may still have debt. The changing world of work offers many new opportunities for this group to look for second careers. This strategy may ensure that they do not draw down on their investments too early, but continue to add value through entrepreneurship. The work can also be local or global.

We need to look at our talent differently and think innovatively. As a nation, we need to enhance our human capital, work together and change the economic landscape for all our citizens.

Key Learnings

  1. Look at your older talent through a new lens
  2. Engage in dialogue and education with this group
  3. Can this talent be a gift in helping to transform our nation?

Written by Lynda Smith, Retirement Life coach and CEO of Refirement Network

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