Innovation in the 50-Plus Work Group

Decades continue to be characterized by how much younger we all are in an age where movement and evolution are key. Fifty is now the new 30, and 60 the new 40. Because the baby boomers and those just behind them live longer are generally healthier and desire to work beyond 65 more senior individuals are filling more spots in the workplace, often reinventing themselves to fit a “new mold”. Studies show that up to 80 percent of baby boomers continue to do some sort of paid work until at least age 70, thereby staying mentally sharp and keeping socially and professionally engaged. The current financial reality also assumes that while boomers live longer and are healthier, they also seek to maintain their lifestyle and, to do so, need additional income.

People who make a career change later in life tend to be happier, healthier and, more active than others who have opted to become retirees. Money Magazine published an article about baby boomers who reinvented their careers with considerable success and the consistent was creativity and keeping the brain active. Would-be retirees were remaining in the workplace and retirement as a concept became outmoded as reinvention took its place.

Money Magazine highlighted a 57-year-old sales manager in a real estate firm who became increasing discontented and struggled to do the job she had done for a number of years. At the same time at home, her washing machine stopped working and she had to visit a laundromat. Appalled by the conditions she found, she decided to launch a chain of cleaner, more energy-efficient laundromats “Wash Day” and focused on a younger demographic. The business clearly filled a need in the community. After the first year, they opened two additional facilities and they are now looking to further expansion.

Similarly, a retail executive who worked for the same company from the age of 15 to 46 in both management and corporate positions was terminated in a downsizing. She decided to use the skills that helped her to become a successful executive to develop an idea for a card that could be used to track and simplify discounts on health care expense given to workers. The company, “freshbenies”, gradually expanded and in 2013, had revenue of US$1.3 million. By 2016, the revenues tripled. A simple reallocation of skills with a mix of creative thinking.

These individuals shared common traits: they were willing to take risks, they used past skills as leverage for new challenges, they used their networks to help in the transition and they were creative.

source: Frederick Lamster is a partner at Battalia Winston International, and an ex-CHRO at L Brands. Sharon Tunstall is a consultant at Connect the Dots, and former CHRO at Nike.