Where is workforce really booming? Among the oldest workers. Christian Science Monitor, 24 May 2019, Laurent Belsie
Age No Barrier
“Darneese Carnes was in a bad mental place three years ago. In October, she was fired from her job at a group home in suburban Boston, especially tough for a woman in her mid-50s with few job prospects. The next month, her sister died. Her brother-in-law, a trucker, was so worried about her he took her along for two months while he made his runs. Back home, she ran across a flyer from Operation Able, a Boston nonprofit aimed at getting people, especially older people, back into the workforce through training and job placement. She did so well there, the nonprofit itself hired her. “Operation Able really did save my life,” she says.
Since then, Ms. Carnes has moved to Boston Duck Tours, which offers land-water tours of the city, and drives its iconic duck boats. “I love driving!” she says. “I love people.” A funny thing is happening on the way to America’s aging crisis, which is expected to strain government resources and could well drag down economic growth. Increasingly, senior employees are staying in the workforce, either holding onto their jobs long beyond traditional retirement or returning to work after retirement. And companies, which once tried to push seniors out the door, are waking up to the potential value that they offer.”
Through the WI lens
This piece charts the quiet revolution taking place in American workplaces as demographics dictate that citizens are living longer – and expecting to work longer too. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that between 2014 and 2024 the number of workers age 65 to 74 will rise 55%, and those 75 and older will increase 86%. This comes at a time when the ageing population poses many other problems for society, and puts an unprecedented strain on the economy. Companies are queueing up to sign the AARP’s pledge – that’s the American Association of Retired Persons, ironically – to promote equal opportunity for all workers regardless of age, and some are even thinking about how to make the workplace more friendly for older workers. What really comes across in this article is that having work for some older people is an economic necessity and for others it can provide a continued purpose and meaning in life; in either case it’s at the heart of wellbeing. And what’s clear is that the ageing workforce is a reality that all employers – on both sides of the Atlantic – are going to have to grapple with.
What this article goes on to explain is how positive thinking – described here as ‘thriving’ – can counter the effects that come from the negativity outlined above, from reduced memory to diminished performance. Based on studying people in a series of organisations in different industries, one of the authors has found that people who attain this state are more resilient, experience less burnout, and are more confident in their ability to take control of a situation
“Behind the jargon what this is really about is how we address the challenge of biodiversity under threat, move away from fossil materials like plastic and concrete, and use nature in a sustainable way, all of which could be summed up by “living in harmony with nature”.”
“In the new ‘consensual contract’ between employer and worker, what’s required is a commitment from the employer to safeguard the wellbeing of their people, and a commitment in return from employees to take personal responsibility for their performance of their job.”
“Could loneliness not only be damaging our mental and physical health but also be making the world a more aggressive, angry place? And if so, what are the implications for a cohesive society and democracy?”
“On such fragile foundations are built the first steps towards a more ethical kind of business, and who knows what virtuous circles might result?”
“Scientific evidence recently emerged that, contrary to earlier beliefs, Covid-19 can be spread by tiny droplets that we breathe out when we respire, called aerosols.”
“Economic wellbeing is part of the story, but it is also about finding less stressful lifestyles, in which healthy diet figures as a meaningful measure of success.”
“The industry has every asset needed to be a guiding light in the shift toward personal health priority. Will that become a prevention legacy, a ‘phoenix rising’ from the Covid-19 ashes?”
“Looking at the bigger picture, putting the measures in this order represents a lost opportunity that the pandemic could have offered for a cultural pivot pivot towards getting people more focused on their health, a powerful statement of intent.”
“Employment is necessary to fulfil our most basic human needs such as food and shelter. Any significant increase in long-term unemployment will spell a retrograde step for human wellbeing like no other.”