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FUTURIST: LYNDA GRATTON
LOOK AROUND: 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. It is a pattern with which
the corporate world has become familiar and comfortable,
a reliable and predictable journey around which modern-day
HR practices have been built.
But this pattern is about to be smashed says Lynda
Gratton, a Professor of Management Practice at London
Business School. Gratton, who is addressing AHRI’s national
convention in August, has spent the past three years modelling
work and life in an age of longevity.
Along with co-author, Professor of Economics A ndrew Scott,
she has written The 100-Year Life, a book that isn’t about the
future, Gratton says, but discusses what is happening right now.
Gratton explains that corporations are currently built to suit
‘Jack’, a man in his 70s. But those same businesses are fast filling
with ‘Janes’. Jane is 20 and is just beginning her career. She faces
a very different career path to the one Jack experienced.
“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,” Gratton says. “In
our modelling process we quickly realised the three-stage life –
education, work, retirement – was impossible. Who can work
from 21 to 75 non-stop?”
“So we then asked: what sort of work would Jane be doing?
What would it mean for her family? For the community she lives
in? For her leisure time? And what does this mean for government
policy and what does this mean for corporate policy?”
Corporate bodies and particularly HR practitioners are
about to face major change and to illustrate that she delves
deeper into the lives of Jack and Jane.
“Jack retires at 63 and dies at 75,” Gratton says. “He had
a wife called Jill and while Jack worked, Jill brought up the
children. He worked in maybe three companies across his lifetime
in a job environment that was relatively stable.”
“Jane is different on every single one of those dimensions. Even
if she does have a partner for life, the couple is almost certainly
going to have to have a dual career [meaning both individuals
work full time]. Very few people are able to make enough money
to have a stay-at-home partner. She is also going to be working in
an environment with artificial intelligence and robotics. A nd she
will likely re-skill and change careers along the way.”
THE SIX-STAGE LIFE
The focus of organisations and of individuals, is going to have to
change from the tangible to the intangible or, at least, to the less
tangible. What does this mean?
Rather than focusing on how much Jane should be paid, or
where she will need to be located, Jane and her employers will
need to think about what will allow her to be more productive,
agile, healthy, and how can she constantly change and re-invent?
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?
“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.”
“She could 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.”
How will this fit into the Australian work and education
environment which, anecdotally at least, contains a level of
ageism? This negative attitude towards older people in workplaces
and educational institutions will natu rally break down on its
own, Grat ton believes.
The friction is caused by the segmented way we currently
think about age and life stage, she explains. If you go to
university you must be 21 years old; if you are travelling
extensively then you must be on a gap year. But this ‘age equals
stage’ mentality will disappear.
“One of the implications of longevity is that people will
be more comfortable with those of different ages,” Grat ton
“ONE OF THE IMPLICATIONS OF
LONGEVITY IS THAT PEOPLE WILL
BE MORE COMFORTABLE WITH
THOSE OF DIFFERENT AGES.”
15/04/2016 3:33 pm
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