For the first time ever!

By 2023 for the first time ever in the UK 50% of the working population will be aged 50 and over.*

What does that mean for both professionals who want to continue working but frequently not in the way they have been? And what does it mean for employers who are facing an ageing workforce, combined with an ever-increasing experienced talent shortage in the professions?

My co-author, Mike Mister and I have been talking to a range of organisations and experienced professionals about these issues. What we have found is that both experienced professionals and organisations feel ill-equipped to have the much-needed conversations on these issues – both are fearful of opening up “a can of worms”. In particular, employers are fearful of being perceived as ageist (and all that that entails) and individuals are fearful that if they put their hands up it as good as signals their intent to check out of their career and any ambitions they may have left.

The opportunity though if handled well presents big potential for experienced professionals as well as the organisations for whom they work. However, if handled badly (or not at all) the repercussions for both can be scary (not least of which from a reputational damage perspective) as well as financially costly for organisations. And it can leave individuals leaving organisations feeling disappointed and embittered.

Organisations have a range of options available to them when faced with this scenario including:

– restructuring roles so that they work for experienced professionals. This could involve reducing or reworking how individuals contract with the organisation (eg reducing working time commitments with a gradual “glide path” out of the organisation)

– offering professionals, a clearly defined consulting role rather than an employee role (eg with a minimum number of days guaranteed for a specified amount of time acting as a gradual runway out of the organisation).

Ultimately, supporting experienced professionals to smoothly transition out of the organisation and into a fulfilling encore** turning them from potential detractors to pro-active and engaged ambassadors is a game-changer which really only has an upside for both parties.

Likewise, experienced professionals need to exercise their agency, especially if the organisation is not proactively engaging in the conversation by deciding on a plan that works for them. They also need to take a lead on the communication with their organisation.

What we have found through our work and research is that:

– Those organisations who proactively plan and engage with their experienced professionals on what their mid to later career looks like, both within and beyond the organisation, have better outcomes for their organisations including retention of productive, highly motivated professionals. And when those individuals leave, they act as advocates and promoters of the organisation in their fulfilling encore stage including in the board room and beyond.

– Professionals who exercise their agency by making a plan that includes working with their employer wherever possible, have better outcomes whilst in the organisation and beyond in their fulfilling encores.

Organisations and employees are going to have to face the impact of an ageing workforce and quickly – the time for action is now. Avoiding conversations and not taking action is no longer an option for either party!

Our book From work life to new life – rewriting the rules of smart professionals acts as a resource for experienced professionals as well as organisations to assist with this transition. So, if you haven’t already check out the book as this may be a good place to start.

To learn more about my work with organisations and individuals, you can email me at rebecca@wisesherpa.co.uk.

#coaching #businesscoaching #executivecoachlondon #50career #midlife  #midcareer  #fromworklifetonewlife

*ONS

**the term we use to describe the phase after life in large organisations which is increasingly replacing the traditional approach to retirement.

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