Home' HR Monthly : February 2016 Contents Agile Workplaces is a leading provider of workplace assessments for staff who work at home throughout Australia,
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AUSTRALIAN MALE AND FEMALE LIFE EXPECTANCIES
are now in the 80s, and the conditional life expectancy of
most 50 year olds today is also north of 90 years. Careers are
expected to last for 60 years – not 40 years as they did for
In counterpoint to this trend, large corporations are
shrinking in size and employing fewer people. This is due to
globalised competition, and the impact of the internet, which
is now a 30 -year-old technology that isn’t predicted to mature
for another 20 years. Doing ‘more with less’ is a mantra that’s
not going away any time soon.
Charles Handy, an Irish author and philosopher, specialising
in organisational behaviour and management, is an exemplar
of a working mindset we all need to aspire towards. At 83,
Charles is still actively writing, teaching and publically
speaking. Some years ago, he said future organisational
employment patterns would be expressed in the following
equation 1⁄2 x 2x3.
What that means is that, in future, organisations will
employ half the number of people they did previously, but pay
them t wice as much and expect them to produce three times
the quantum. Discomforting as it is, these trends are already in
So where are the new jobs going to come from? The internet,
a key change driver, is one place. A global corporation can be
one person sitting alone at a PC in their bedroom. Resourceful
types in Silicon Valley in California and other byways are
creating small, nimble companies to employ like-minded souls
who don’t want to work for unwieldy, large corporations.
The Dunbar principle, named after an Oxford academic
psychologist, states that we all have a strong preference to be
acquainted with or be connected to no more than 150 people
at one time, across our family, work environment, and close
Bringing these trends together suggests that future
employment growth will come more from small firms and
solitary operators working as e-lancers; and crowd-sourced
participants in other people’s business who work for a limited
time and from time to time.
Part of the reshaping of our national and global economies
will also come from us, the workers. And how we feel about
our life and career. Handy says work forms three important
parts of our life: to fulfil our passion, to enable discharge of
our set of duties and to make money.
These three features change in their priority over time, and
are usually associated with three forms of activity. Making
money and fulfilling duties are very important to working
parents, usually until children grow up and move away.
Passion has been missing from our working lives in the past
decade, says Handy. Engagement surveys support this assertion
with Gallup revealing that 75 per cent of employees currently
feel disengaged from their work. And as we reach our 50s, we
know we are among the next target for downsizing.
In Handy’s latest book The Second Curve, he surmises all
of us have a career shaped like an ‘S curve’. It starts off low,
we have a few dips early on, and then we rise steadily upwards
until our peak is reached, at which point we can hang on a bit
too long and then start to drop off in our performance, until
our career ends.
In post war years, that was alright
because you could slow up from ages 55
to 65, and we had employers who were
tolerant of that. But no longer.
Handy believes humans can reshape
themselves and their careers with a
two-year maturity pattern. The key to
that is finding out what golden seeds
sit within you and where they can be
mobilised to introduce a new, second
‘ S curve’ into your working life.
reaching 50 need to explore
their passions and potential
for a future career. And
it’s also where leadership
from HR, both by example
and by encouragement, is
important for the people
we work alongside.
OUR SECOND CURVE
In maturity, we can discover new talents and new challenges to prolong our working life.
BY PETER WILSON AM, AHRI CHAIRMAN
To read past Perspective
columns by Peter Wilson, visit
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