Regular readers know that I have been reviewing Tamara Erickson’s book, Retire Retirement. Although aimed at Boomers (born 1946 – 1964), the book offers insights that are useful across the generational alphabet! Erickson’s research suggests that work culture will change in the next decade for several reasons:
1. To accommodate Boomers seeking flexible, new experiences. As the first generation with the realistic expectation of a 30-year healthy, active life after age 55, Boomers may engage in several new careers!
2. Because of Gen Y’s desire to have a work-life balance and refusal to join companies requiring 60-hour work weeks.
(It seems as if Gen X doesn’t have much to say in this matter!)
Erickson makes the case that Boomers who wish to stay in the paid workforce will leverage a lot of power:
- Boomer skills and experience are needed. Employers don’t want to experience the “brain drain” of Boomers retiring in droves.
- Technology and a changing economy offer flexible ways of working.
- Research shows that workers over 55 are more reliable and loyal than younger workers.
Erickson encourages readers to dream big and to think optimistically about their plans. She believes that by 2025, more companies will embrace next-generation enterprises, which she describes as:
Intensely collaborative, continually informed, technologically adept and skilled at on-going experimentation…Companies will adopt flexible relationships and continual active connections to attract both talented employees and loyal customers (49).
As a result, she believes that employees should reasonably expect the following in the next 5 years:
- Flexible time. Changing shifts, compressed work week, individualized schedule.
- Reduced time. Part-time, job sharing, leave-of-absence programs.
- Cyclic time. Project-based or contract work. Employees will focus on a project for a number of weeks or months, complete the work and then either take a break or move on to a new contract. (Read more about this here.)
- Flexible place. Telecommuting, no fixed location for work.
- Task, not time. Instead of working 9 to 6, for example, employees would have a task and be required to put in only the time that it takes to get the work done.
Erickson offers specific strategies for Boomers to negotiate a new work plan. She encourages this powerful and large group to reinvent themselves and dream big! The book also outlines a myriad of ways for those seeking a brand new challenge (not with current or similar employers) to leverage their reputation, or “brand.”
Erickson emphasizes that responsibility for a new and improved work life is up to YOU! Boomers (and future generations) need to plan in advance, position themselves and plot a course to navigate a desired career path. Many successful workers will map their route years in advance and steer toward their goal. Others will take advantage of unexpected opportunities. Either way, a life’s worth of work impacts our options if we wish to work beyond traditional retirement age with the benefit of flexibility and personal choice.
If Erickson is correct about the changes coming to the workplace, Boomers, and younger generations as well should read Retire Retirement to begin to plan how to position themselves in a brave new working world!