There is no longer such a thing as a job for life

The book, The 100-year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity, written by Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott – both professors at the London Business School, shows us that individuals are now living longer than ever, and that as life expectancy continues to rise many people will be routinely working for 60 or 70 years.

A subsequent MITSloan Management report, The corporate implications of longer life, written by The 100-Year Life authors, explains how few organizations have come to grips with the opportunities and challenges that greater longevity brings.

One of the implications is that the traditional 3-stage model of education-work-retirement will no longer apply, and will be replaced by a multi-staged model, where there are a variety of ways to arrange the steps – as shown in the diagrams below.

Source: The corporate implications of longer lives

Sometimes individuals will be in full employment and other times freelancing in the so-called “Freelance-“ or “Gig Economy.” The consequence is that the traditional “job for life“ model will disappear and will be replaced by a “life of jobs” model, as the report explains:

“the flexible nature of the modern workforce will likely see a 15-year-old today navigating a portfolio of 17 jobs in 5 different industries.”

It is also thought that individuals will change specialisations more than once over their career. This will mean building a portfolio of skills over a collection of experiences that will in turn support multiple careers.

“As working lives become longer, the need for lifelong learning will increase.As working lives become multi-staged and the sequence of those stages becomes more customized, individuals will take an interest in skills with value that extends beyond the current employer and sector.” his will weaken the one-size-fits-all approach to learning and development. Instead, there will be a growing need for more decentralized and flexible approaches to learning, curated more by individuals than by employers.”

The report recognises this will cause a number of tensions:

  1. people want personalization; corporations want conformity
  2. people want flexibility; corporations want standardization

The authors conclude

“We expect the pressure building from these tensions to grow in the years ahead. Without changes in corporate policies, employees will struggle to build working lives that have resilience over an extended period of time and that support healthy and prosperous longevity. In response, companies need to initiate a top-to-bottom redesign of their human resource practices and processes.”

This is the reality of today’s ever-changing world and poses new challenges to all – both organisations and individuals.  So let’s now take a closer look at the modern employee – what they want from a job and how they learn.


The modern employee

Last updated: December 10, 2018 at 8:23 am

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