There are many who think that the traditional 20th century approach to retirement will just not work in the future. Working until you’re 65 then exiting the workforce seems to be both unaffordable and unrealistic if the average life expectancy is going to be over 90.
Retirement as we know it may be on the brink of a major revolution – at least that’s the claim from one leadership expert who says the current system just can’t cope.
Morag Barrett, CEO of international HR firm SkyeTeam who recently co-authored ‘The Future-Proof Workplace’ – says most baby boomers simply can’t afford to retire at the traditional age because they wouldn’t be able to support themselves financially for the rest of their lives. “Imagine how big of a pension pot we would have to save to fund a 40-year retirement? That’s a huge amount of money.”
So, what is the answer?
There may be the need for us all to embrace new ways of living, working and learning throughout our lives. The traditional perception of a three-staged life based on education, career and retirement will need to be replaced and Barrett thinks a braided system will become more common. “So it’s education, work and life together then a period away – whether you’re travelling, doing a community project or going back into education – then coming back for a period of work in order to refill the coffers and continue that cycle.”
It will work well for employers too as it will give older workers a chance to reskill and fill problematic talent gaps.
The idea of a lineal career progression is no longer the norm and will become nearly obsolete in the future. Being flexible within the workforce, i.e. being able to move up, down and also across will be important not only for older adults in the workforce, but also millennials who are just beginning their working life. The earlier workplaces embrace this the quicker they will reap the benefits.