You might remember the Beatles song that goes “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64?” Back when that song was released in 1967, 64 was old. It was assumed that after some 40-plus years of work, a 64-year-old was ready for a simple life of shuffleboard, bridge games, and naps. But while we know that technology and society are changing the future of work, the future of retirement may be in for an even bigger change.
A goldmine of talent: the golden years
For the last several years, organizations have been trying to figure out how to attract and retain young talent. But another goldmine of talent — augmented with experience — is at the other end of the career arc. Changes in how society views retirement, education, and technology will allow organizations to fill their talent gaps in new ways.
There are several reasons for the changing concept of retirement. First of all, people are living longer. According to the Social Security Administration, for the generation that was to turn 65 in 1960, 60.1 percent of men and 71.3 percent of women lived to that age. For the generation turning 65 in 1990, that percentage jumped to 72.3 and 83.6, respectively.
As more people grow the ranks of the senior community, society is shifting in its understanding of what is old and what it means to be old. For many people, the traditional retirement age no longer makes sense. For example, a recent survey in Britain found that most people now consider 80 to be old. People from the traditional retirement age of 65 to 80 are living more vibrant, active lives. Retirement is looking less like a time to stop working, and more like a time to reassess — even revamp — life and work.
An economy extending to fit veteran workers, not just millennials
Knowledge workers and high-skilled labor will not stop working, so much as work differently. Some will choose a second career, and some will choose to work when and how they want to. Businesses that prepare for this type of retirement will have some great competitive advantages. Imagine a manufacturing company that pairs a junior mechanic with a retired mechanic, connected through a device like Google Glass. When the junior mechanic gets stuck on a tricky problem, a second pair of experienced eyes are available on demand.
Most people associate the gig economy with younger workers, but it may be even better suited for retired workers. Skilled retirees are able to take time off to travel or spend time with family, and then make some extra cash and keep their skills up when they want to.
There are a lot of problems in the current state of retirement. Many retirees are reporting financial hardships, stress, and loneliness. The good news is that the next generation of retirees will redefine retirement on their own terms, and smart organizations will benefit from this shift.