THE INTER-GENERATION GAME
It is becoming increasingly established that age does not equal seniority, and even less capability – particularly in tech firms. Seven of the 10 most valuable companies in the world are tech companies. And as Chip Conley, former right-hand man and mentor to Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky put it in a recent piece for Fast Company: “60 may be the new 40 physically, but when it comes to power in the modern workplace, 30 is the new 50.” The reality, nonetheless, is that we’re all working longer, and the fastest growing age demographic in the workplace is the over-65s.
Conley is the founder of the Modern Elder Academy, a group whose subjects he defines as “someone as curious as they are wise”. The need for these two generations to work together has an upside. There’s no fast track or silver bullet to life experience, emotional intelligence and leadership skills – these things come with time. And for all that digital entrepreneurs can offer in terms of innovative, disruptive and society shifting ideas, the sage experience of those twice their age is equally valuable – particularly from a sustainability perspective.
“Now, with the reality of mid-life equalling mid-career, it is a case of ‘older, wiser and still growing.”
Some companies, notably the tech ones, have set up Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) for employees over 40 – the Google Greyglers and Uber Sage are two examples – to ensure this cohort has a voice that gets heard. Imagine if these groups took on a mentoring type role? Younger generations have real needs: they are more likely to be affected by mental health issues and to be raised in a single parent family, for example.
We’ve long since recognised the value of ‘older and wiser’, but now, with the reality of mid-life equalling mid-career, it is a case of ‘older, wiser and still growing’.
On a personal note, the first time I recognised the real value of intergenerational society spirit was when I first began taking part in triathlons. The cross-generational makeup of those competing, supporting, and organising the training and racing was and is as diverse as I’ve seen anywhere. Businesses need diverse formulas that reflect the pace of evolution today. The value of different life experience, well harnessed, can conjure a spirit that reflects in the culture and quality of the brand.
Anni Hood, Chief Executive, Well Intelligence
WHY A HALF-FULL GLASS IS BECOMING A RARITY
The University of Washington’s School of Medicine concluded last year that there is no safe limit for the consumption of alcohol. Other global and national bodies make recommendations on how many units of alcohol can ‘safely’ be consumed over the course of a week. Confusion reigns around what is safe and what is unsafe but the unambiguous fact is that total global alcohol consumption has risen from 21 billion litres in 1990 to 35.7 billion in 2017 – a 70% increase.
Low and middle-income countries are the greatest contributors to the rise, including Vietnam (up 90% since 2010), India (+37%) and China (+4%). Those countries seeing a decline in alcohol consumption include the UK (down 7%), Canada (-11%) and Australia (-14%) according to Forbes.
“More people are abstaining completely and those who do drink are more frequently drinking to excess.”
This may look like good news for the latter group, but hold on: recent reports put Britain at the top of the global list for the average frequency of getting drunk, at 51.1 times in a 12 month period. Despite that, abstention is on the rise, particularly among Millennials of whom one in seven (15%) abstained from alcohol in 2017. It is another example (there are so many in today’s society) of extremes – the centre ground of moderation is an empty landscape. More people are abstaining completely and those who do drink are more frequently drinking to excess.
What does this mean? Those abstaining from alcohol are not socially abstaining so there’s a need for a shift in provision towards soft drinks categories. More profoundly these numbers spell a culture shift in how people are choosing to live. This affects many aspects of lifestyle and turns traditional hospitality models on their head. Is clean partying the new cocaine?
Steve Dunne, Chairman, Well Intelligence
VIRTUE SIGNALLING – A MODERN CRIME?
It can feel like a bit of a minefield. Whether you’re endeavouring to do the right thing or to live a life packed with decency and clean living, you’re bound to annoy someone in today’s hypersensitive and ‘offended by everything’ society.
Nowadays, accusations of virtue signalling – aka being seen to do the right thing whilst having another agenda – are everywhere, and the expression of outrage at people or organisations pursuing what they perceive to be worthy objectives sometimes feels excessive.
Burger King’s #feelyourway advertising in support of MentalHealthAmerica may be one case where the criticism is justified. The fast-food company hit a hollow note among the critics, with its ad prompting the suspicion that depression was being used as a shameless marketing tool.
“The old adage of actions speaking louder than words needs to be applied to all legislation and policy.”
Wellbeing culture means being congruent with lifestyle choices that optimise rather than deplete how good the individual feels. It’s not just a personal thing, but as we’ve seen recently with Burger King, and the hastily removed Pepsi ad in 2017, it’s also about companies and even countries showing what they really mean through what they do.
With the exception of New Zealand (which is set to announce the world’s first wellbeing budget at a national level), few countries appear to be lighting the way. But the old adage of actions speaking louder than words needs to be applied to all legislation and policy.
Julian Richer, the founder and 100% owner of Richer Sounds has said “ethical capitalism is key to business success” and he proved it last week by giving his 522 employees a 60% stake in the company, and £3.5m to be shared out in a one-off cash bonus. Not every company, nor government, is likely to go to the same lengths – but moves such as this, coming from a place of authenticity and real empathy, will defy any charge of sending out virtue signals.