Un babyboomer en un startup…

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Este artículo es de Chip Conley, asesor en Airbnb, publicado en la Harvard Business Review, junio de 2017

Entré a trabajar en Airbnb con 52 años y esto es lo que he aprendido sobre edad, tecnología y RRHH.

Un número cada vez más grande de personas se sienten como viejos cartones de leche con la fecha de caducidad impresa sobre sus arrugadas frentes. Una de las paradojas de nuestro tiempo es que los baby boomers (las personas nacidas durante la explosión de natalidad experimentada después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial) disfrutan de un mejor estado de salud que nunca, todavía se consideran jóvenes y forman parte de la fuerza de trabajo más tiempo, pero se sienten menos y menos relevantes. Les preocupa, con razón, que sus superiores y empleadores potenciales vean su edad como una desventaja en lugar de un factor positivo, sobre todo en la industria tecnológica.

Sin embargo, los trabajadores de “cierta edad” nos parecemos más a una botella de buen vino que a un cartón de leche, sobre todo ahora, en la era digital. Al sector tecnológico, el mismo que se ha dado a conocer por culturas de trabajo tóxicas y consejeros delegados que van trabajar con sudadera y capucha, le vendría bien una dosis de la tranquilidad y sabiduría que aportan los años.

Yo fundé una empresa de hoteles boutique cuando tenía 26 años y, tras 24 años como CEO, la vendí en el punto más bajo de la Gran Recesión de 2008 sin saber qué vendría después. Entonces, surgió Airbnb. A principios de 2013, su cofundador y CEO, Brian Chesky, contactó conmigo después de leer mi libro Peak: How Great Companies Get Their Mojo from Maslow. Chesky y sus dos cofundadores millennials querían que les ayudara a convertir su expansiva start-up tecnológica en un gigante internacional como Director global de Hospitalidad. Sonaba bien. Pero yo era un hombre de hoteles chapado a la antigua y nunca había utilizado Airbnb. Ni siquiera tenía la app de Uber en mi móvil. Tenía 52 años, nunca había trabajado para una empresa tecnológica, no programaba, le doblaba la edad al empleado medio de Airbnb y, después de dirigir mi propia empresa durante más de dos décadas, reportaría a un tipo inteligente 21 años menor que yo. Me sentía un poco intimidado. Pero acepté el trabajo.

En mi primer día, escuché una pregunta tecnológica existencial durante una reunión y no supe contestarla: “Si despliegas una prestación y nadie la utiliza, ¿se ha llegado realmente a desplegar?” Confuso, me di cuenta de que me encontraba en un buen lío: ni siquiera sabía qué significaba “desplegar” un producto digital. Brian me había pedido ser su mentor, pero también me sentía como un becario.

Me di cuenta de que tendría que encontrar la manera de ser ambos.

Primero, aprendí rápidamente que necesitaba olvidarme estratégicamente de mi identidad profesional histórica. La empresa no necesitaba dos CEO, ni que yo pontificara mi sabiduría desde el púlpito de los ancianos. Más que nada, me limitaba a escuchar y observar con gran atención mientras evitaba los juicios y el ego. Me veía a mí mismo como un antropólogo cultural, intrigado y fascinado por este nuevo hábitat. Parte de mi trabajo consistía en simplemente observar. A menudo, tras concluir alguna reunión, le preguntaba discretamente a uno de mis compañeros -que fácilmente podría tener veinte años menos que yo- si estaba dispuesto a escuchar unos consejos personales sobre cómo interpretar las emociones dentro de la sala, las motivaciones de un ingeniero en particular, de una manera un poco más eficaz.

Eso me lleva a lo segundo que aprendí y que puede resumirse en un acuerdo comercial de una única línea: “Yo te ofreceré un poco de inteligencia emocional a cambio de tu inteligencia digital”. Muchos jóvenes pueden leer “la cara” de su iPhone mejor que la de la persona que tienen al lado. No digo que los jóvenes no entiendan las emociones. Nuestro mundo digital rebosa de emoticonos, y el término “emo” no existía cuando frecuentaba el patio del colegio. Pero los emoticonos no crean habilidades interpersonales ni para las relaciones cara a cara. De repente, me veía rodeado de personas expertas en tecnología, pero que quizá ignoraran que ser un poco más “emocionalmente sofisticadas” podría ser justo lo que necesitaban para convertirse en líderes geniales. Me di cuenta de que esperamos que los nuevos líderes de la era digital pongan en práctica de forma milagrosa las claves de las relaciones personales sin apenas formación, la misma que a nosotros, sus mayores, nos llevó el doble de tiempo aprender. Con los años, aprendí que ser un becario en público y un mentor en privado era esencial: nadie quiere ser criticado durante una reunión por alguien que suene como su padre.

También descubrí que mi mejor táctica era reinterpretar mi desorientación como curiosidad y darle rienda suelta. Hice muchas preguntas de “¿por qué?” y de “¿y si…?”; renuncié a los “¿qué?” y “¿cómo?” en los que se centran la mayoría de los altos directivos. No podía hacer otra cosa. Pertenecer a una empresa tecnológica era nuevo para este viejo. Mi mentalidad de principiante nos ayudó a identificar nuestros puntos ciegos un poco mejor porque estaba libre de rutinas y hábitos de experto. Solemos considerar los “¿por qué?” y los “¿y si…?” como preguntas de niños pequeño, pero no tiene por qué. De hecho, según mi experiencia, puede resultar más fácil a la gente más mayor reconocer cuánto desconocemos todavía.

Paradójicamente, esta curiosidad nos mantiene jóvenes. El teórico de la gestión Peter Drucker era notablemente curioso. Vivió hasta los 95 años, y una de las maneras en las que envejeció sano fue sumergirse en nuevos temas que le interesaran, desde el arreglo floral japonés o ikebana hasta las tácticas de guerra medievales.

Aunque algunas colegas de más edad en el ámbito tecnológico creen que tienen que ocultar su edad, pienso que hacerlo es desperdiciar una oportunidad. Mostrarme y actuar de forma abierta me ayudó a triunfar en el mundo tecnológico. He pasado toda una vida sintiendo curiosidad por las personas y las cosas, algo que supongo significa que puedo considerarme una persona leída y bien relacionada. No estoy seguro de que haya alguien dentro de Airbnb a quien se le haya pedido charlar un rato con un grupo más diverso de trabajadores. Siempre me esforcé al máximo por responder con un “sí” entusiasta a estas peticiones. Y lo agradezco. Porque si mapeara todas esas conversaciones con todas las islas (o departamentos) de la empresa, se apreciaría una nutrida red de relaciones y conocimientos. Esto me ha servido aún más para desempeñar mi papel como consejero estratégico de los fundadores, puesto que me permitía tener una idea fundamentada del pulso de la empresa y sus varios equipos.

Los baby boomers y millennials tienen mucho que ofrecer, y hay mucho que pueden aprender los unos de los otros. Aquí entra el “viejo moderno”, que sirve y aprende tanto como mentor como becario, el mismo que disfruta de ser tanto alumno como sabio. La oportunidad de aprendizaje intergeneracional es especialmente importante para los baby boomers, ya que tenemos probabilidades de vivir 10 años más que nuestros padres. Sin embargo, los grupos y puestos de poder dentro de la sociedad digital se han desplazado unos 10 años hacia abajo. Esto significa que los baby boomers podrían experimentar 20 años adicionales de irrelevancia y obsolescencia. El hecho de que el número de trabajadores de 65 años o más del año pasado en Estados Unidos fuera un 125 % más alto que en 2000 presagia una tragedia para los recursos humanos.

La sabiduría y la experiencia implican el reconocimiento de patrones. Y cuanto más mayor es una persona, más patrones ha visto. Me encanta el viejo refrán: “Cuando se muere un anciano, es como si se hubiera quemado una biblioteca”. En la era digital, las bibliotecas –como los ancianos– no son tan populares como antes, pero la sabiduría nunca pasa de moda.

– See more at: https://www.hbr.es/cambio-generacional/612/entr-trabajar-en-airbnb-con-52-os-y-esto-es-lo-que-he-aprendido-sobre-edad#sthash.RzJxI7jh.dpuf

The Corporate Implications of Longer Lives

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Article published in MIT Sloan Review, in 1/3/2017.

People are living longer and working longer — but few organizations have come to grips with the opportunities and challenges that greater longevity brings.

Across the world, people today are living longer. Whether it is in the United States, China, or Rwanda, average human life expectancy has increased over the past few decades. If life expectancy continues to grow at the rate of two to three years every decade, as it has done over the last 150 years, then a child born in Japan in 2007 will have a more than 50% chance of living past the age of 107. Under the same assumptions, children born in that year in most of the advanced economies will have similar odds of living past their 100th birthday.1

There is growing awareness that increasing longevity will have major implications for how people manage their work lives and careers. Rising life expectancy means the level of savings required to provide a reasonable income for retirement at age 65 is becoming increasingly infeasible for most people.2 We predict that, given the average level of savings in advanced economies, many people currently in their mid-40s are likely to need to work into their early to mid-70s; many currently in their 20s (many of whom could live to be over 100) will be working into their late 70s, and even into their 80s.

Across the world, people are becoming more conscious of their lengthening working lives — but frustrated by their working context. Our research suggests that while people know they will have to restructure their lives and careers, corporations are unprepared. (See “About the Research.”) Indeed, corporations have been somewhat inconsistent in their reaction to greater longevity. On the one hand, many executives are excited about the possibilities of tapping into the estimated $15 trillion of spending power of people over 603; on the other hand, few have taken full account of the opportunities and challenges longevity brings to their own workforces.

Most companies, especially those operating in the advanced economies, still view life in terms of three stages: full-time education, full-time employment, and then a “hard stop” retirement around the age of 65. This is the life structure that emerged in advanced economies in the 20th century and continues to underpin much thinking about the workforce. Although this structure worked when life expectancy was 70, it cannot be stretched to support a healthy 100-year life.

Individual Experimentation

In response to the pressures resulting from longer working lives, individuals are starting to experiment with new stages of life and creating different career structures. The pressures are having particularly significant effects on three age groups: people approaching retirement age, those currently in their 40s, and those just entering the workforce.

People Approaching Retirement

One of the first age groups to test traditional corporate policies are those currently in their 60s. For many of them, the idea of a traditional “hard stop” retirement at age 65 is under real pressure. As they think about the rest of their lives, they are beginning to look for ways to be productive for longer. Currently, one in five Americans over the age of 65 (and one in 12 over 75) still works, and these proportions continue to rise. Some of those working longer are continuing in their existing jobs; others are taking on roles that involve different skills or offer a better work-life balance. An increasingly popular option is to become an entrepreneur; indeed, in the United States, people starting a business today are more likely to be over 55 than under 34.4

People in Their 40s

For people in their mid-40s, there is a growing realization that retirement isn’t a hard and fast turning point. Indeed, some are beginning to recognize that they could have another 30 or more years of work ahead of them and are figuring out how to make the most of those years. Navigating this extended period successfully will require maintaining skills, remaining enthusiastic, maintaining physical well-being, and creating a good work-life balance. Many are considering what they need to do to upgrade their skills to continue on their current trajectory or wondering whether now is the time to switch to a new career and a new stage of life.

People Entering the Workforce

The generation just entering the workforce has the longest expected lifespan in history, perhaps 10 to 15 years beyond that of the generation approaching retirement. In contrast to older workers, many younger workers are aware that their working lives are apt to involve many different jobs in a variety of sectors. A long and shifting career will force them to create a sense of coherence with their values and preferences, and to adapt and develop new skills and interests.

Members of this group are beginning to focus on options, which become more valuable as the time horizon over which they can be exercised becomes longer. As a result, the age range at which a number of traditional markers of full adult independence and commitment take place — such as getting married, having children, and buying a home — has been extended. In addition, as can be witnessed in the streets of Brooklyn, New York, and London’s East End, many in this group are embracing a new form of entrepreneurship that combines work, leisure, and creative space, and that includes a focus on experimenting, learning new skills, and building a distinctive professional identity.

The Importance of Intangible Assets

A primary focus during the traditional work-oriented stage of life has been financial matters: earnings, retirement savings, and home ownership. However, as life extends and careers become longer, different types of assets take on new importance. For a 40-year-old man or woman, extending the second stage of life by working more years will enhance his or her financial assets and may secure a reasonable retirement income.5 But what impact does working longer have on other types of assets that are needed to support a good life? We term the other types of assets “intangibles,” and we group them into three categories:

The first category is productive assets: the individual’s skills, knowledge, reputation, and professional networks. It is these productive assets that will enable a 40-year-old to find interesting work during a career that spans several more decades.

The second category consists of what we call vitality assets, which include strong mental and physical health, a good work-life balance, and powerful regenerative relationships. Having such assets will enable people approaching the traditional retirement age to continue working.

The final category, which we believe will become increasingly important, is what we call transformational assets, which involve self-knowledge and the types of diverse networks that support personal change and transitions.

Intangible assets are critical for enabling a long working life. At any point in time, people will need to be either actively building or maintaining these assets, or they will depreciate. (See “Key Assets for a Multistage Life.”)

Key Assets for a Multistage Life

In a multistage life, intangible personal assets that enable productivity, vitality, and career transformations are as essential as financial assets.

The challenge for longer working lives is how to build and maintain intangible assets over a career of 50 or 60 years. Already, by the end of a traditional three-stage 40-year career, the skills and knowledge built at the beginning are substantially eroded. With advances in artificial intelligence, it’s hard to imagine skills and knowledge lasting multiple decades.

Similarly, extending one’s working life could result in a sharp deterioration of vitality assets such as health and happiness. Measures of well-being and life satisfaction tend to reach their lowest level during the second, employment-focused stage of life and then increase.6 Therefore, although working longer will build the financial assets to support greater longevity, it could risk depleting crucial intangible assets.

What is the alternative? Inevitably, people want to balance their investments in tangible and intangible assets by committing time to both. This will mean committing time to work in order to generate tangible assets. But it will also mean prioritizing activities to stay healthy, maintain friendships, and learn new skills. Those starting their careers may later want to have time out of the workforce to explore, or to move later into a company after a period of self-employment. Those in their 40s may need to take time out of the workforce to make significant investments in learning new skills to maintain momentum, and those who don’t plan to (or don’t want to) stop working at 65 will want to develop a portfolio of options.

These different paths will require individuals to make substantial commitments of time to develop intangible assets. One obvious approach is to add new life stages that prioritize such investment. It will not be the first time that new life stages have been introduced. Increasing longevity in developed countries during the 20th century led to the emergence of two stages that had not been previously recognized: the teenage years7 and retirement.8 It follows that longevity gains may lead to the development of further additional stages. Rather than a three-stage life, we expect to see a multistage life, along with a larger number of transitions. (See “Creating a Multistage Life.”)

Creating a Multistage Life

A traditional three-stage life consists of a sequence of education, work, and retirement. But longer lives create opportunities for new stages to emerge and for each individual to create his or her own unique sequence of stages.

Tension Points

As traditional life patterns become less relevant to many people’s needs, individuals will want to pursue working lives that are more flexible and multistaged. However, this desire for flexibility will clash with current corporate practices and processes. Specifically, we anticipate three tension points, involving: (1) people’s desire for personalization; (2) their interest in flexibility; and (3) their desire not to be pigeonholed on the basis of age.

People want personalization; corporations want conformity. Employees increasingly want to decide for themselves which intangible assets they invest in, how much they invest, and how to sequence the various life stages. So, the first tension point is likely to involve how those choices align with their employers’ interests.

Although it is understandable that employees will want to make their own choices, corporate policy and practice are largely based on assumptions that similar age cohorts are engaged in similar types of activities and work during the same stages of life. Those leaving full-time education are typically in their late teens and 20s; those taking time off tend to do it as young parents in their 20s and 30s; those retiring do so in their mid-60s. From a corporate human resources perspective, age has been a reliable predictor of likely aspirations and motivations.

In a three-stage life, there has been one main sequence: education, work, and then retirement. In a multistage life, there are a variety of ways to arrange the stages. As a consequence, the link between age and stage breaks down.

People want flexibility; corporations want standardization. In the course of our research, we asked MBA students and executives to narrate their possible future working lives, the stages they would incorporate, and the sequence they would use. We were struck by the variety of these descriptions, with the many different ways of leading a working life presenting a mosaic of possibilities.9 What this variety reveals is that in a multistage life, even those within the same age cohort will be engaged in different stages at any given time. Moreover, some of the anticipated stages — for example, exploring new work options, becoming self-employed, founding a business, and building a portfolio of activities that may include both paid and unpaid work — will include periods of time outside the enterprise.

The desire for variety and flexibility will conflict with corporate preferences for standardized working times and operating procedures that have dominated organizational practices since the Industrial Revolution. The traditional structures, of course, have the advantage of simplicity and cost-effectiveness, and they facilitate standardized working careers with conventional entry, promotion, and exit points. In addition, these structures reduce the amount of unfairness that can occur when individual employees negotiate deals that aren’t available to others. Standardization reduces the possibility of setting new precedents that must be extended to a broader group of employees or even to everyone.

People want to be age-agnostic; corporations want age markers. Over the years, corporations have played an influential role in separating the young from the old. In many industries, retirement has had an important purpose; it provides companies with a way to ease workers out of physically demanding jobs in a nonconfrontational manner. Traditional job titles reinforced age divisions, with job titles referring to “junior” and “senior” roles. Age plays an important role in a linear career path, and both implicitly and explicitly, it has a huge influence in recruitment, promotion, and salary setting.

Given that people are living longer, many want opportunities to contribute throughout their long working lives. Careers have many different stages, each with different aims and different needs. How people sequence the stages will be based on their own motivations, preferences, and financial requirements — not just their age. In other words, they don’t want their age to be the only factor determining who they are or what they want. If age and stage are no longer so intertwined, this will inevitably lead to more cross-generational activities. For example, one could be an undergraduate at 20, 40, or 60, or a senior manager at 30, 50, or 70.

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Easing the Tensions

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. The redesign should be composed of two parts: a shift toward intangible assets, and a move toward a multistage approach to careers.

A Shift to Intangible Assets

In a three-stage life, the core of the employee-employer relationship was tangible assets. Corporations found that the best way to recruit and retain workers was to offer a promise of tiered earnings based on promotion and length of service, along with the prospect of a pension to finance retirement. However, for many employees, this dominant role of tangible assets has been waning in recent years. In many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, corporate pension schemes are decreasing dramatically both in number and coverage. But the changing roles of the different kinds of assets are not just about the reduced attractiveness of the tangible assets companies offer. In a long multistage life, securing long-lasting intangible assets becomes as critical as securing strong financial assets. As a consequence, in a multistage life, the relationship between the corporation and the employee can no longer be simply mediated by tangible assets.

Monitoring Intangibles

The capacity and opportunity to build a much wider range of assets are essential factors to a longer working life. The challenge is to bring these assets into the corporate narrative, and acknowledging and measuring intangible assets is an important first step. At Tata Consultancy Services Ltd., a large IT service, consulting, and business solutions firm headquartered in Mumbai, India, there is a focus on understanding and calibrating productive intangible assets such as knowledge and skill acquisition. Across the company, an internal digital platform called Knome enables the firm’s 380,000 employees to track their skill development, use online training to boost and broaden their skills, and build their reputation through virtual badges earned for skills.10 The credentials are then used to assess the development of productivity assets across the whole organization.

Cultivating Lifelong Learning

As working lives become longer, the need for lifelong learning will increase. As working lives become multistaged 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. This 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. Skills and knowledge that are portable and externally accredited will be particularly valuable. Longevity will force a shift in responsibility for lifelong learning toward the individual. Organizations such as City Lit, which was founded in 1919 to provide adult education in London, will likely see a new spurt of growth.

Supporting Employees’ Transformational Skills

The capacity for individuals to transform will become an ever more valuable asset as employees work longer and make more transitions in their careers. Those most likely to make successful transitions will be those with self-insight and with diverse networks that provide alternative experiences and role models. There is much that organizations can do to support this — such as encouraging employees to regularly reexamine their own goals and skills, and helping them develop dynamic and diverse networks.

Tata Consultancy Services’ internal digital platform, for example, gathers data on an individual’s advice network, in terms of who the person is giving advice to and receiving it from. Using this data, employees can gain insights into whether they are building or depleting the strength of their professional social networks within the company by assessing the extent to which these networks are becoming more homogenous or more diverse. The aggregate data is also used to influence corporate policy on encouraging cross-functional and cross-business networks.11

Bringing Variety to Employment

Longer lifespans will affect how long employees remain at a company in many ways. As careers extend in response to longevity, it is fair to assume that the percentage of workers who will spend their entire career with one organization will decline. Even so, many people may increase the number of years they remain at a particular company. The challenge companies will face with longer tenure is to maintain the productivity enhancement that comes from stability and continuity while also creating space for people to develop the capacity to transform. Simply increasing tenure has its challenges. People can become stale and bored; moreover, organizations run the risk of generating frustration when people aren’t able to advance.

There are a number of ways to mitigate this tension. One is for employees to stay in the job but reshape it by adding new tasks and skills. Employers, for their part, can help people transfer their skills to other areas or stimulate the development of new skills. Another option is to offer employees sabbaticals and longer breaks to help them recharge. Such flexibility can enable companies to retain promising younger workers while incentivizing older workers to invest in their transformational assets and prepare for multistage careers.

Acknowledging the Needs of Dual-Career Families

Not all intangible assets are centered on supporting careers. Vitality assets stress family and friendships. As more households address the financial tensions associated with funding longer lives by ensuring that both partners work outside the home, the nature of families is changing. Deloitte, the global professional services firm, saw this firsthand when it studied the evolving family structure of its employees. The company discovered that the traditional structure of a male partner supported by a stay-at-home spouse applied to a minority of its people.12 Instead, many employees were in dual-career households and were often the parents of young children. Realizing that a career track with a steady upward trajectory was not appropriate for all circumstances, Deloitte encouraged employees to build their own career “lattice” where they could change pace (accelerate or decelerate), workload (full or reduced working hours), work location (office or home), and role (project or support).13

Creating Time Flexibility

Investments of time are crucial to building intangible assets — whether related to skills and knowledge, health and fitness, or families and relationships. To invest time, employees need a degree of control over their working practices — that is, when, where, and how they work.

Flexible working was championed by companies including British Telecom more than two decades ago, with an aim of learning whether employees who had more flexible work arrangements tended to be more productive and less likely to leave.14 Since then, many initiatives have supported flexible working, and the current push to reduce office costs promises to bring more opportunities to work from home and to work flexible hours.

As common as flexible work schedules have become, long breaks are not typical in the business world. Currently, very few companies offer sabbaticals. There is no doubt that when more people work into their 70s or 80s, longer breaks will be seen as attractive. Some companies with demanding work schedules, such as consulting firms, are attempting to respond by allowing eligible employees to take four- or eight-week sabbaticals, in addition to vacation time, to pursue personal interests and passions.15

Taking a Multistage Approach

As people increasingly opt for a customized, multistage approach to their lives and careers, companies will need to rethink their personnel practices to attract the best employees. This will involve three major changes:

1. Revamping Recruiting

In the traditional three-stage life, corporate recruitment practices are primarily geared toward recent graduates. The danger is that as careers become increasingly multistaged, companies that focus exclusively on this narrow age band fail to identify other talent, such as young people who used their 20s to explore other fields; people in their 30s and 40s who managed small businesses or startups; and experienced people in their 60s and 70s who could mentor and inspire young workers.

Many of the most visible projects to reengage with mid-career candidates have emphasized mothers returning to the workforce; major companies involved in such initiatives range from Goldman Sachs to General Motors to UBS.16 More broadly, corporations are seeking to broaden their talent pool with mid-career hires. For example, for some years Fujitsu Ltd., the Japanese technology company, has recruited a wide range of experienced people, including actors, poets, physicians, and architects, to boost its innovative capabilities.17

In the traditional recruitment model, candidates with gaps in their work experience (for whatever reason) have been viewed with suspicion by corporate recruiters. But as nonlinear careers become more common, we expect people with unconventional experiences to become less unusual — and perhaps even to be viewed as a desirable resource.

The need to diversify sources of recruiting will arise not just from the emergence of multistage careers but also because of an anticipated decline in new workers entering the workforce. In the United States, for example, the number of workers aged between 16 and 24 is expected to decline by 10% in the coming decade, a time when baby boomers are moving into retirement.18 This will inevitably result in more competition for talent and highlight the growing demand for workers from nontraditional sources and ages.

2. Rethinking Age-Related Stereotypes

In a three-stage life, age and stage are inextricably intertwined, and it was appropriate for corporate policies to use age as shorthand for roles and aspirations. But it is not appropriate when the model moves to multiple stages. Of all the policies we have studied, age stereotypes and attitudes regarding older workers are the area where action is needed most immediately.

Too often, companies view older people as a liability rather than an asset. It’s time to rethink what it means to be over 60 and how business can tap into the experience and wisdom older employees offer. The motivation for change is a simple one: Longevity means people are living longer and staying healthier for longer. In addition to older individuals being healthier and fitter than previous generations, growing automation is boosting older workers’ productivity.19 The result is that the current generation of older workers is able to be more productive than past generations, and advances in technological augmentation will boost their productivity still further.

The early adopters celebrating the experience and wisdom of the over-60s are often found in the retail sector, selling to older customers, or in sectors such as engineering, where there is a dearth of younger talent. For example, at B&Q PLC, a home improvement and home gardening supply retailer based in Chandler’s Ford, England, more than one quarter of the company’s workforce is over 50.20 Among other things, the company considers older workers more experienced with do-it-yourself home projects and more empathic with homeowners. BMW AG has redesigned factory space around the needs of an older workforce.21 At Vita Needle Co., a manufacturer of stainless steel tubing and fabricated parts based in Needham, Massachusetts, about half of the employees are aged 75 or older.22

3. Redesigning Retirement

Key to better utilization of older workers will be fundamental changes in retirement practices. Retirement is already being substantially transformed. In many countries, the effective retirement age is rising as more people over 70 are working. Yet while there are some signs of coordinated social change in retirement, it is still the case that most organizations deal with retirement on a case-by-case basis. As a result, many workers in their 50s have little clarity about their employer’s policies regarding flexible retirement dates or flexible working after retirement from a full-time job. We think there’s an opportunity to think more broadly about retirement — in particular, whether it makes sense to have a hard stop or to make the transition more gradual.

The first step will be setting expectations properly. People need to know in advance what their options will be and, if they wish to stay in full-time employment, what they have to do to make their preferred option happen. They also need to know the circumstances under which they can delay retirement and the different options that exist in terms of time (for example, hours per week), responsibilities, and salary. A corporate policy built on cherry-picking individuals the company wants to retain is unlikely to be successful over the long term, and it is likely to be limited by anti-ageism legislation.

Companies will need to specify the type of flexibility they are prepared to offer. At a minimum, they may want to provide an option for people to stay in their roles and extend their tenure for a few years after retirement. However, this is not without its challenges. Among other things, extending the careers of those near retirement age may block promotions for younger workers rising in the organization.

Another challenge is confronting the role age currently plays in determining pay. Older workers currently tend to earn more than younger workers, since salaries rise with promotions and tenure. Questioning the link between age and salary opens up possibilities for nonlinear career moves, enabling older workers who want to work longer to shift with dignity to lower-paying positions that offer the benefits of lesser time demands and less responsibility. It also addresses one of the major reasons for inflexibility in corporate retirement policies: Companies often seek to retire older workers in order to reduce their payroll, since the ratio of cost to productivity for highly paid older workers can be unappealing. It is important for companies to create options that recognize that, for some older employees, salary may have plateaued — or they may want to consider accepting lower pay in return for greater flexibility in a multistage career.

The Longevity Challenge

There is a rapidly growing realization that technology will fundamentally transform jobs, the nature of the tasks performed, and the structure of companies. Less attention has been paid to longevity, which may produce equally profound changes. At the heart of the challenge of the transformations associated with longevity is the traditional three-stage life. Not only has this been the dominant career narrative for nearly a century, but it has also led corporations to focus on linear career models that emphasize the accumulation of financial assets. In the next few decades, we believe there will be a fundamental rethinking of these traditional models. This will begin with individual employees experimenting and pushing the boundaries, eventually leading to new and more flexible policies of recruitment, retention, learning, training, compensation, and retirement. The transitional phase will be a time of anxiety and frustration. Corporations that are able to move rapidly in transforming their policies will gain from employees who are more engaged and productive.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Lynda Gratton is a professor of management at London Business School. She tweets @Lyndagratton. Andrew Scott is a professor of economics at London Business School and a fellow of the Centre for Economic Policy Research. He tweets @ajslondon1. They are the authors of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity (Bloomsbury, 2016).

¿Están listas las empresas para los sénior?

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Artículo publicado en “Expansión” el 26/02/2017.

Conocer las fortalezas de la plantilla y gestionar sus expectativas son los pilares de una nueva gestión de personas necesaria para no perder el conocimiento de los sénior. Aunque aún escasean las empresas que tienen políticas para preservar este talento.

Un buen estado de salud y lucidez mental, una nutrida y válida agenda de contactos, la experiencia de éxitos y fracasos y la empatía de miles de relaciones profesionales convierten a los sénior en un cóctel perfecto laboral pero ¿prescindible?, porque hace tiempo que los mayores de 45 años han pasado a engrosar eso que se denomina colectivo en riesgo de exclusión social. Aunque algunos expertos afirman que no es que padezcan más el despido que otras generaciones, sino que tardan más en regresar al mercado laboral, este juego de palabras no soluciona la pérdida de talento del que ya empiezan a arrepentirse algunas organizaciones. Por ejemplo, Marta García-Valenzuela, directora de diversidad de Talengo, apunta que “siempre se ha destacado que la crisis que sufrió el sector financiero no habría sido tan grande si no se hubiera prejubilado a una generación de profesionales que hubiera actuado con una mayor cautela, porque habían gestionado otras crisis antes”. Añade que “el coste de no contar con su talento ha sido altísimo, muy superior a si hubieran seguido en la entidades con sus salarios”. A este ‘despilfarro’, García-Valenzuela suma otro nada despreciable en otros sectores: “Perder las relaciones de confianza que tienen con los clientes supone un elevado coste económico que no se suele concretar ni valorar”.

Las empresas tendrán que compaginar fórmulas contractuales a medida de cada profesional

Esta es una de las lecciones que parece que algunas organizaciones aún no han aprendido. Deslumbradas y aterrorizadas por la presión de una transformación digital necesaria, han dirigido su mirada a los nativos digitales a quienes se presume una serie de habilidades en la red prioritarias para ese cambio de modelo. Un reflejo de esta realidad son iniciativas como las convocatorias de empleo para menores de 30 años que lanzan buena parte de las firmas del Ibex 35. Sin embargo, algunas de las que apostaron por estos perfiles se dan cuenta de que se han quedado sin profesionales con otro tipo de habilidades que proporciona la experiencia laboral y que son imprescindibles para ser más competitivos. Elena Orden, consultora de PeopleMatters, destaca “la mayor motivación, responsabilidad y compromiso con el trabajo, menor rotación, redes de contacto valiosas, conocimientos y experiencia profesional y vital que es importante que transmitan a las nuevas generaciones”.

Políticas necesarias

Algunos responsables de recursos humanos son conscientes de ello. Así, Amalia Rodríguez, directora de recursos humanos de Heineken España, declara que “se trabaja mucho por el nuevo empleo, pero existe una gran inflexibilidad en el mercado laboral maduro. Resulta complicado si necesito modificar las condiciones laborales de un profesional en plantilla, contratado para una actividad obsoleta y cuyo salario ya no se corresponde”.

Desde el Observatorio GT, un órgano para la investigación, análisis y formación en materia de diversidad generacional, explican que “las empresas de la red del observatorio hace tiempo que están analizando sus pirámides de población. De hecho, se puede decir que desde el año pasado están poniendo en marcha políticas de recursos humanos para gestionar los distintos colectivos que las componen y en especial los de mayor edad”.

Es muy importante diseñar programas de motivación a la carta y planes para que ejerzan de mentores

Una de las iniciativas dirigidas a gestionar este colectivo es la que hace unos años creó Gas Natural Fenosa y que puso sobre la mesa en un focus group organizado por IESE y Grupo Persona, uno de los utilizados para realizar el informe Cómo gestionar personas en una sociedad madura. La multinacional señala que, unas de las limitaciones de los mayores de 45 años es su frecuente resistencia a la movilidad, “algo cada vez más necesario para las empresas y que resulta imprescindible para cumplir los compromisos con el empleo adquiridos con los sindicatos”. Para ello crearon el programa de Trayectoria Extendida, entre cuyos objetivos se encuentra derivar a posiciones horizontales afines; pasar, en el caso del trabajo de campo, a posiciones de apoyo y revisión, en segunda línea (documentación de las operaciones) y el insourcing.

La salida natural de ésta y otras políticas en la gestión de personas la comenta Carlos Recarte, socio director de Recarte&Fontenla executive search: “Las empresas tendrán que compaginar diferentes fórmulas contractuales, con distintas políticas retributivas y planes de carrera en función de las necesidades y motivaciones de los empleados”. En esta nueva estructura, Orden propone que “en cada área de la empresa la diversidad, en todas sus acepciones, debe ser el núcleo de la gestión: generacional, de género, cultural y funcional. De esta forma las compañías pueden aprovechar las fortalezas de los mayores y, en general, de todo el talento de que disponen”.

Para García-Valenzuela, la transformación del departamento de recursos humanos pasa por “la gestión individualizada de oportunidades laborales, no podemos dar por hecho que el colectivo de mayores aporta, piensa o se comporta de manera homogénea. Es muy importante hacer programas de motivación a la carta, en la que ofrezcamos modelos de contratación flexible, más tiempo para dedicar a actividades fuera de la organización, programas de desarrollo de talento joven en los que ejerzan como mentores y, sobre todo, implicarlos en el diseño de estas soluciones. El futuro del área de gestión de personas es migrar a un área de gestión de expectativas».

Diversidad, consenso y coherencia

La convivencia de distintas generaciones en el lugar de trabajo es necesaria, aunque muchas organizaciones se empeñen en desequilibrar la balanza hacia el lado de los más jóvenes. Que dentro de unos años los mayores serán legión es una cuestión demográfica: en Europa viven 1,6 personas por cada una en edad de trabajar, y para 2060 se estima que serán dos. Andrés Fontenla, socio director de Recarte&Fontenla ‘executive search’, recuerda que “los programas de ‘mentoring’ han sido grandes protagonistas en las políticas de recursos humanos, y creo que entramos en un momento en que lo volverán a ser”. Su socio, Carlos Recarte, piensa que los actores que participarán en este nuevo entorno laboral no variarán: “Recursos humanos deberá seguir liderando la gestión del cambio y de la cultura de la empresa, contando con la activa participación de los diferentes líderes y profesionales de la empresa”. La diversidad, la coherencia administrativa y el consenso entre las distintas generaciones marcarán el futuro de la gestión de personas que tendrán que mirar más hacia adentro, preocuparse por lo suyo, para ser más competitivas. Marta García-Valenzuela, directora de diversidad de Talengo, explica que “el invierno demográfico que está sufriendo Europa va a implicar que las organizaciones se vuelvan ‘human centered’ y que su verdadero cliente sea su propio talento, cada vez más escaso y necesario. Este reto supone poner en valor al talento sénior. Cuidar, desarrollar y potenciar el talento diverso, también el de más edad, en los roles que aporte más. Esa será la clave para triunfar”.

9 major job-search changes for older workers

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One question I ask during my introductory workshops is, “When did you last have to look for work?” Invariably I’ll get answers like “25 years,” “35,” 40,” and so on. On the other hand, others haven’t had to look for work in the past five or ten years, some in the past two years or less. The disparity is great between my customers who have been long-tenured workers and those who are veterans to the job search.
The folks new to the job search didn’t have to write a résumé that fits today’s standards, if write one at all. Nor did they have to go through five to 10 rounds of interviews. They might also be new to networking, never used LinkedIn, haven’t engaged in informational meetings, and used other job-search methods. Some tell me, “Companies came to me. I didn’t have to do anything.”
These people have a lost look on their face. It’s as if they have to learn to walk all over again.
Needless to say, there have been changes in the job search in the past decade or two, changes that represent challenges to people who aren’t used to a different job search. Here are eight components of the job search that are new to older workers.
1. The most obvious change, being out of work. This comes as a complete shock, especially for those who worked at their last company for 20 or more years. Gone is their routine, the camaraderie they shared with their colleagues, the income they came to rely on. Also gone, for some, is their self-esteem and confidence.
They know they are experienced and valuable workers, but there’s self-doubt and fear that the job search will be long. In the back of their mind they know the longer they’re out of work, the harder it will be to regain it.
2. Longer hiring process. The good news is that employers are hiring. The bad news is that it’s taking them longer to pull the trigger. I’m witness to many job seekers who are getting jobs but usually after a longer process than before. It’s not unusual for job candidates to be interviewed multiple times over the telephone and endure additional face-to-face interviews.
One of my customers endured five telephone interviews before being hired. Another was hired after 12 personal interviews–No lie. This goes to show that employers are more cautious than in the past; they don’t want to make hiring mistakes, as it can cost tens of thousand dollars to hire a replacement employee.
3. Résumés have changed in the past decades. Nay, the past five years. Employers want to see accomplishments on résumés, not just duties. I remember applying for positions years ago where I would send résumés that were one-fits-all, didn’t include a Performance Profile, and were written in Currier font.
There are enough articles written on how it’s important to list quantified accomplishment statements. (Read this article that explains 10 important elements of a professional résumé.) But talk has increasingly turned to the importance of appeasing the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Simply put, this software eliminates approximately 75% of résumés, based on the lack of keywords. Approximately 95% of my customers haven’t heard of the ATS.
4. Networking is imperative. During the days when securing a job took less time and all the jobs were listed in the newspapers, networking wasn’t as important as it is now. This is a tough change for many people who haven’t had to look for work for a couple of decades. Networking was necessary as part of their job. But to find a job? Not so important back then.
Now your business is called Me Inc.; meaning you are your own business and therefore networking is absolutely necessary. And it can be uncomfortable, even scary. (Read this article on getting outside your comfort zone to network.) Anywhere from 60% to 80% of your success can be attributed to personal networking.
5. LinkedIn arrived on the scene. At least 95% of hiring authorities (recruiters/hiring managers/HR) are using LinkedIn to cull talent. Twelve years ago LinkedIn didn’t exist. My customers who haven’t had to look for work since 1988 feel like a confused child when they hear of LinkedIn’s ability to help them find work. Talking about having to learn to walk again.
Some are even afraid of “being on the Internet.” This is an immediate stopgap to LinkedIn. When I hear some of the long-tenure employees say they’re reluctant to disclose too much information, I’m inclined to tell them not to join LinkedIn. (Read this article on how LinkedIn isn’t for everyone.) One cannot be afraid of the Internet if he wants to benefit from LinkedIn.
6. Most jobs are posted online. Older workers are now faced with the prospect of searching for jobs on job boards like Monster.comDice.comSimplyhired.com, and a plethora of others. Because most jobs—75%-80%—are unadvertised, this is time often wasted. In addition, the applications are difficult to fill out for some older workers who aren’t familiar with the computer.
Twenty years ago I remember picking up the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe which was thick with job ads, and the challenges of the Hidden Job Market weren’t as glaring as they are today. More jobs were obtained by using newspapers to locate them, and then we simply sent a generic résumé to land an interview. This speaks to changes in technology, which some older workers struggle with.
7. Telephone interviews are more challenging. This includes telephone interviews which are making the traditional screening process an oxymoron. Yes, employers want to know your salary requirement, but the questions go way beyond that. Telephone interviews are conducted by most employers. They are similar to face-to-face interviews, save for the fact you’re not at the company.
Now, as one former customer told me, the phone interview can consist of behavioral-based questions only. “They’re tough,” I hear. “I wasn’t prepared.” More than one customer told me they were only asked behavioral-based questions, approximately 12 of them. (Read this article on Preparing for behavioral interviews.)
8. The personal interview is tougher. Many of my customers are taken aback by group interviews. Thirty, or so, years ago, group interviews were not common. Rather, companies would conduct one-on-one interviews to size up the job candidates. Group interviews are commonplace these days; they should be expected.
The group interviews aren’t the only challenge candidates are facing. Tough questions, such as behavioral-based and situational, as well as tests to gauge one’s knowledge. Interviewers are asking questions that get to the core of the applicants. One of my customers told me that after a five-person group interview, he felt like he’d gone three rounds with Mike Tyson. He told me this prior to his next interview with the company, and maybe additional interviews henceforth. When do they end?
9. Age discrimination is the white elephant in the room. This is not a myth nor an excuse. Older workers are experiencing it from not only younger interviewers, but older interviewers as well. The reasons range from the demand for higher salaries than younger workers to inability to keep up.
However, the smart employers understand these reasons aren’t necessarily true. As well, older workers have many fine attributes they bring to the table. (Read this article on the 5 strengths of the older worker.) I suggest that my older job seekers explore companies that are older-worker friendly. AARP can be helpful, or simply looking on LinkedIn for companies whose average age exceeds 40 plus can be a find indicator.

These are a few of the changes that have occurred since older workers have had to look for work. Very talented people, who were at the top of their company, are experiencing changes that are hard for them to grapple. But eventually they get into the groove and learn the proper tenets of the job search. Some of the long-tenured workers even see this as a welcomed challenge.
Please add to this list of job-search changes older workers are facing today.
From: https://thingscareerrelated.com/author/thethingsmethinks/

You’re How old? We’ll be in touch…

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Artículo del NY Times, del pasado 3 de septiembre. La generación de los “millenials” está dejando de lado a su generación anterior, la gen “X”, y no hablemos de los “Baby boomers”, muchos jubilados… Buena lectura, para situarse:

You’re How old? We’ll be in touch…

It might not seem that Hillary Clinton and Donald J. Trump have much in common. But they share something important with each other and with a whole lot of their fellow citizens. Both are job seekers. And at ages 68 and 70, respectively, they’re part of a large group of Americans who are radically upending the concept of retirement.

In 2016, almost 20 percent of Americans 65 and older are working. Some of them want to; many need to. The demise of traditional pensions means that many people have to keep earning in their 60s and 70s to maintain a decent standard of living.

These older people represent a vast well of productive and creative potential. Veteran workers can bring deep knowledge to the table, as well as well-honed interpersonal skills, better judgment than the less experienced and a more balanced perspective. They embody a natural resource that’s increasing: the social capital of millions of healthy, educated adults.

 

Why, then, are well over a million and a half Americans over 50, people with decades of life ahead of them, unable to find work? The underlying reason isn’t personal, it’s structural. It’s the result of a network of attitudes and institutional practices that we can no longer ignore.

The problem is ageism — discrimination on the basis of age. A dumb and destructive obsession with youth so extreme that experience has become a liability. In Silicon Valley, engineers are getting Botox and hair transplants before interviews — and these are skilled, educated, white guys in their 20s, so imagine the effect further down the food chain.

Age discrimination in employment is illegal, but two-thirds of older job seekers report encountering it. At 64, I’m fortunate not to have been one of them, as I work at the American Museum of Natural History, a truly all-age-friendly employer.

I write about ageism, though, so I hear stories all the time. The 51-year-old Uber driver taking me to Los Angeles International Airport at dawn a few weeks ago told me about a marketing position he thought he was eminently qualified for. He did his homework and nailed the interview. On his way out of the building he overheard, “Yeah, he’s perfect, but he’s too old.”

I’m lucky enough to get my tech support from JK Scheinberg, the engineer at Apple who led the effort that moved the Mac to Intel processors. A little restless after retiring in 2008, at 54, he figured he’d be a great fit for a position at an Apple store Genius Bar, despite being twice as old as anyone else at the group interview. “On the way out, all three of the interviewers singled me out and said, ‘We’ll be in touch,’ ” he said. To his disappointment, he didn’t hear anything immediately, and he says that he called to follow up. Though he did get an email from a recruiter some days later to set up a second interview, he stopped pursuing the opportunity.

Recruiters say people with more than three years of work experience need not apply. Ads call for “digital natives,” as if playing video games as a kid is proof of competence. Résumés go unread, as Christina Economos, a science educator with more than 40 years of experience developing curriculum, has learned. “I don’t even get a reply — or they just say, ‘We’ve found someone more suited,’ ” she said. “I feel that my experience, skill set, work ethic, are being dismissed just because of my age. It’s really a blow, since I still feel like a vital human being.”

A 2016 study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found “robust” evidence that age discrimination in the workplace starts earlier for women and never relents. The pay gap kicks in early, at age 32, when women start getting passed over for promotion.

Discouraged and diminished, many older Americans stop looking for work entirely. They become economically dependent, contributing to the misperception that older people are a burden to society, but it’s not by choice. How are older people supposed to remain self-sufficient if they’re forced out of the job market?

Not one negative stereotype about older workers holds up under scrutiny. Abundant data show that they’re reliable, handle stress well, master new skills and are the most engaged of all workers when offered the chance to grow and advance on the job. Older people might take longer to accomplish a given task, but they make fewer mistakes. They take longer to recover from injury but hurt themselves less often. It’s a wash. Motivation and effort affect output far more than age does.

Age prejudice — assuming that someone is too old or too young to handle a task or take on a responsibility — cramps prospects for everyone, old or young. Millennials, who are criticized for having “no work ethic” and “needing to have their hands held,” have trouble getting a foothold in the job market. Unless we tackle age bias, they too are likely to become less employable through no fault of their own, and sooner than they might think. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act kicks in at 40.

The myth that older workers crowd out younger ones is called the “lump of labor” fallacy, and economists have debunked it countless times. When jobs are scarce, this is true in the narrowest sense, but that’s a labor market problem, not a too-many-old-people problem.

A 2012 Pew Charitable Trusts study of employment rates over the last 40 years found rates for younger and older workers to be positively correlated. In other words, as more older workers stayed on the job, the employment rate and number of hours worked also improved for younger people.

Progressive companies know the benefits of workplace diversity. A friend in work force policy calls this the “shoe test”: look under the table, and if everyone’s wearing the same kind of shoes, whether wingtips or flip-flops, you’ve got a problem. It’s blindingly obvious that age belongs alongside race, gender, ability and sexual orientation as a criterion for diversity — not only because it’s the ethical path but also because age discrimination hurts productivity and profits.

Being part of a mixed-age team can be challenging. Betsy Martens was 55 when she landed a job as an information architect at a start-up during the heady days of the tech boom. Decades older than most of the staff, she found it invigorating. “When it came time to talk about the music we loved, the books we’d read, the movies we saw and the life experiences we’d had, we were on different planets, but we were all open-minded enough to find these differences intriguing,” she told me. Things shifted during an argument with her boss, “when he said exasperatedly, ‘You sound just like my mother.’ That was the moment the pin pricked the balloon.”

“Culture fit” gets bandied about in this context — the idea that people in an organization should share attitudes, backgrounds and working styles. That can mean rejecting people who “aren’t like us.” Age, however, is a far less reliable indicator of shared values or interests than class, gender, race or income level. Discomfort at reaching across an age gap is one of the sorry consequences of living in a profoundly age-segregated society. The Cornell gerontologist Karl Pillemer says that Americans are more likely to have a friend of a different race than one who is 10 years older or younger than they are.

Age segregation impoverishes us, because it cuts us off from most of humanity and because the exchange of skills and stories across generations is the natural order of things. In the United States, ageism has subverted it.

What is achieving age diversity going to take? Nothing less than a mass movement like the women’s movement, which made people aware that “personal problems” — like being perceived as incompetent, or being paid less, or getting passed over for promotion — were actually widely shared political problems that required collective action.

The critical starting point is to acknowledge our own prejudice: internalized bias like “I’m too old for that job,” and that directed at others, like “It’s going to take me forever to bring that old guy up to speed.” Confronting ageism means making friends of all ages. It means pointing out bias when you encounter it (when everyone at a meeting is the same age, for example).

Confronting ageism means joining forces. It means seeing older people not as alien and “other,” but as us — future us, that is.

Correction: September 6, 2016

 

An earlier version of this article included a quotation by JK Scheinberg, a retired Apple engineer, saying he was not contacted after an interview for a position at an Apple store Genius Bar. Mr. Scheinberg and Apple now say that the company did send an email asking to schedule a second interview.