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Are businesses not ignoring a great source of knowledge, skill and experience by mandating retirement based on an arbitrary age, generally between 60 and 65 for men, when longevity has increased so much?

By the age of 65 we’ve generally spent somewhere between 40 and 50 years working (many start with serious ‘holiday jobs’ in their teens) and have gained enormous knowledge and experience. Yet despite the huge improvement in life expectancy since 1950 – in the West, for example, it’s generally increased from around 68 years for men in 1950 to 80 years today – the retirement age is largely unchanged.

I read constantly about companies bemoaning the difficulties they’re having with finding suitably skilled and experienced staff. This situation is currently exacerbated by the sudden rise in inflation and a looming economic downturn – part pandemic-induced, part war-induced – and few executives in their 40s have any real experience with these conditions.

Paradoxically, I know many men and women in their 60s and beyond who love being active in business and yet are not considered for roles by the same companies that are looking for the knowledge, skills and experience they can offer, despite being extremely fit and healthy.

Are these people not a rich largely untapped resource for the companies to use? They generally have fewer outside distractions and/or calls on their time than younger executives, are settled in their identities, have been through significant changes in their lives and so handle change well. Older workers take less time off, have a strong work ethic and are more likely to stay in their roles as they know what they enjoy doing, and they also make great mentors and are happy to pass on their knowledge. This article from Columbia University provides more detail.

And, of course, many of them make great Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) or Advisory Board members – with fees considerably lower than those of the external consultants many companies use instead.

Certainly, not everyone wants to keep working – some people want to retire and do little or nothing at 40 – but I would suggest there are enough people in their 60s and beyond who would love the opportunity to continue using the knowledge they’ve accumulated through the decades.

As Chanakya, the Indian Polymath who lived over 2200 years ago, said, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourselves.”

Isn’t it time to give serious consideration to this potential solution to some of the problems your business is facing?



I work with successful owner-led businesses to enhance their growth, profitability and business value.

If you’d like to have a conversation about your business objectives and concerns, book a free 30-minute call with me here. I’d be delighted to talk with you.


#BusinessFitness #Attitude #Board #JobSatisfaction #Loyalty #NED #People #Productivity #Recruitment #Retirement #Unretirement #QOTW


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