The Longevity Dividend

The world population is aging and living longer. The old-style linear process of education, work, retirement and death has also changed. The main driver of change is technology and the world of work as we know it, is changing at a pace that just seems to be getting faster each day.

How do we as leaders in business and society manage these changes? The decisions we make today will impact the people we serve. It is not business as usual if we are living on average 30 years longer than people born 100 years ago.

There is a great book worth reading called “The 100-year life by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott”. They make several statements in the book about what the burning platforms may be.” If you are in your twenties or thirties you have a long stretch of time ahead to shape differently. If you are in your forties, fifties of sixties then you need to reconsider your future and think about how you will reinvest in the second half of your life. Failure to innovate in response to a longer life will mean stresses and strains in your life as existing models are stretched uncomfortably over 100 years.”

The world of work is changing for all of us. How do leaders start to grapple with what this may mean within their organisation and the impact on society? There are many aspects to consider for the learning and development of your employees or members. Individuals need to plan and design a different future than their parents and grandparents may have done. For the healthy individuals there may even be an extra season of life before becoming elderly.

Chip Conley, Global Executive at Airbnb is launching a new book in September called Wisdom@Work. This too is a worth reading to understand the complexity and change happening between generations in the work place. Chip calls himself a modern elder. One does not just become a modern elder, one needs to spend time learning, unlearning and relearning. He believes that there are many advantages of combining different generations in the workplace to bring about better results and building capacity and wisdom transfer. He uses a term in the book of being a MenTern. Learning as an intern from the younger generation in exchange for mentoring on emotional intelligence to the younger generation. He also talks about trading DQ (digital intelligence) for EQ (emotional intelligence)

A new organisation has been established in South Africa to help build conversations, strategy and learning around a longevity dividend. It is called 50plus-skills. The vision of this company is to focus on the 50plus generation heading into this new world. A community platform has been built to accommodate these individuals, for them to register their skills and availability to learn, serve and earn. This group with skills and time is about 2 million strong (Unilever Primetime research) This can also be a national asset to assist with job creation, health and education. 50Plus-Skills are engaging with business and civil society to connect the dots, assist employees and members to adjust to this new season and help build capacity in our nation.

Currently in Sub-Sharan Africa there are about 40 million people over 60. By 2050 this number will be over 160 million. Change is needed now. We owe it to our elders and our children to think about how longevity can be a gift and not a curse.