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Work Futures Daily - When No One Retires

When no one retires; Dwindling talent pool = more training; Blaming the old; Cashiers are disappearin

Work Futures

November 9 · Issue #1029 · View online
The ecology of work, and the anthropology of the future.

When no one retires; Dwindling talent pool = more training; Blaming the old; Cashiers are disappearing; Service robots from LG; Outsourcing AI training; Channeling Gary Hamel

Beacon NY - 2018-11-09 — As the charts below show, the world is getting older, on average. We can anticipate people living longer, and therefore working longer. However, the business sector may not be ready for that trend.
One of yesterday’s stories mentioned The 100 Year Life, by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, a title that is less aspirational and more a sensible planning exercise. A reader tweeted this:
Rude awakenings have ensued.
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Long Takes
When No One Retires | Paul Irving notes that Standard & Poor’s predicted in 201 that the biggest influence on “the future of national economic health, public finances, and policymaking” will be “the irreversible rate at which the world’s population is aging.” He goes on,
This societal shift will undoubtedly change work, too: More and more Americans want to work longer — or have to, given that many aren’t saving adequately for retirement. Soon, the workforce will include people from as many as five generations ranging in age from teenagers to 80-somethings.
Are companies prepared? The short answer is “no.” Aging will affect every aspect of business operations — whether it’s talent recruitment, the structure of compensation and benefits, the development of products and services, how innovation is unlocked, how offices and factories are designed, and even how work is structured — but for some reason, the message just hasn’t gotten through. In general, corporate leaders have yet to invest the time and resources necessary to fully grasp the unprecedented ways that aging will change the rules of the game.
Business leaders are considering this as a crisis and not an opportunity.
Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends study found that 20% of business and HR leaders surveyed viewed older workers as a competitive disadvantage and an impediment to the progress of younger workers. The report concludes that “there may be a significant hidden problem of age bias in the workforce today.” It also warns that “Left unaddressed, perceptions that a company’s culture and employment practices suffer from age bias could damage its brand and social capital.”
How bad is this growing ageism in the culture and at work?
Yet the flawed perceptions persist, a byproduct of stubborn and pervasive ageism. Positive attributes of older workers are crowded out by negative stereotypes that infect work settings and devalue older adults in a youth-oriented culture. Older adults regularly find themselves on the losing end of hiring decisions, promotions, and even volunteer opportunities. Research from AARP found that approxi­mately two-thirds of workers ages 45 to 74 said they have seen or experienced age discrimina­tion in the workplace. Of those, a remarkable 92% said age discrimination is very, or somewhat, common. Research for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco backs this up. A study involving 40,000 made-up résumés found compelling evidence that older applicants, especially women, suffer consistent age discrimination. A case in point is IBM, which is currently facing allegations of using improper practices to marginalize and terminate older workers.
Irving concludes with a series of recommendations for business leaders, such as relaxing the notion of a one-size-fits-all workweek:
To start, you need to reconsider the out-of-date idea that all employees work Monday through Friday, from 9 to 5, in the same office. The notion that everyone retires completely by age 65 should also be jettisoned. Companies instead should invest in opportunities for creative mentorship, part-time work, flex-hour schedules, and sabbatical programs geared to the abilities and inclinations of older workers. Programs that offer pre-retirement and career transition support, coaching, counseling, and encore career pathways can also make employees more engaged and productive. Many older workers say they are ready to exchange high salaries for flexible schedules and phased retirements.
But no matter what, leaders must confront this trend and prepare:
The realities of the demographic shift under way is no longer an option. CEOs and senior executives will need to put the issue front and center with HR leaders, product developers, marketing managers, investors, and many other stakeholders who may not have it on their radar screens. This will take guts and persistence: Leaders must bravely say, “We reject the assumption that people become less tech-savvy as they get older” and “We will fight the impulse to put only our youngest employees on new initiatives.” To genuinely make headway on this long-range issue, companies will have to make tough, and sometimes unpopular, decisions, especially in a world where short-term results and demands dominate leaders’ agendas. But isn’t that what great leaders do?
A must read. Worth using one of your free monthly reads on HBR.
Your boss is now more likely to train you up, thanks to a dwindling talent pool | Erin Winnick reports on the growing willingness of employers to train workers, because they can’t poach enough already trained ones from rivals. In Clocking In she asks Alicia Sasser Modestino of Northeastern University about that:
Are you seeing an increase in businesses being willing to offer training for their workers? 
“I think it is increasing. We did interview some really large manufacturing firms. They did say in the 80s they were doing a lot of training and then realized they weren’t in the training business: they were in the manufacturing business. A winning strategy for them has been to poach workers from all the smaller firms who train people and then they go on to these bigger places. But the labor market has gotten so tight that even the bigger firms, they admitted that strategy isn’t working for them anymore. They still have jobs to fill. So now they are willing to train.”
Winnick discusses the PwC reskilling program I mentioned in Yes, Change Is Hard. So What?.
Short Takes
Apropos of negative stereotypes of older workers, here’s 3 kinds of employees who hurt transformation momentum. Guess who are the first group ‘hurting’ momentum?
The first, and perhaps largest, group is composed of older workers. This is not an insignificant group – for instance, Americans over 65 (and thus past the classic age for retirement) are actually the fastest-growing segment of the workforce at the moment.
Organizations often dismiss older workers’ ability to participate in digital efforts. “They’re obstinate.” “They don’t care.” “They didn’t grow up with this technology and will never get it.”
And these workers themselves sense they are not being included, and inject biases of their own as well: “I don’t need to be a part of digital. It doesn’t concern me.” “This is just another bogus transformation. I’ve seen a million of them and I can wait it out.” Or most poignantly: “I don’t have anything to contribute here.”
The author, Melissa Swift, does go on to say ‘Organizations would be far better served by bringing these workers on the journey with them’, but she’s already thrown them under the bus
Via Clocking In – The cashiers are disappearing
It’s more than a trend, it’s an avalanche.
Along similar lines, LG has announced a new generation of robots aimed at replacing service workers. I actually saw one of these robots at Incheon International’s in Seoul Korea a few weeks ago.
Why Big Tech pays poor Kenyans to teach self-driving cars | Because Kenyans are cheap, and willing to work long hours tagging objects in videos.
Companies are hiring freelancers to make the office look busy | Companies pay people to work from their offices – 'seat fillers’ – to look larger and busier when investors or clients come to visit. I. Am. Not. Kidding.
The 1 Thing That Immediately Kills Your Company | The Corporate Rebels were inspired by Gary Hamel at the 2nd International Rendanheyi Forum inn China, in September. I was too. This post is a brilliant condensation of some of his insights, like this:
Organizational change: experiments should be revolutionary in intent, but evolutionary in practice.
From the Archives
Quote of the Day
The problem with business is that it is afraid of dealing with the business of people.
| W. Edwards Demings
Crossposted from
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Stowe Boyd, 17 South Cedar Street, Beacon NY 12508