Operations/ Strategic/ Asia Pac

Can't Wait for 2050? Act Now.

Can't Wait for 2050? Act Now.

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This article highlighting Japan’s aging demographics and how they are expanding their notion of an aging workforce is one of a series the Wall Street Journal is publishing in its exploration of the world of work in 2050.

Deep in the author’s analysis is this gem:

“The United Nations projects that by 2050, 32 countries will have a greater share of senior citizens than Japan has now.”

2050 seems a long way off. It is but the problems Japan is facing today are already being felt in the US. That Japan is ‘redefining aging’ goes without saying. There is a great deal we can learn from their current efforts to solve their aging dilemma by applying innovative work and hiring strategies today- especially as we discover, as Japan has, that 60, 70 and even 80 year olds are more vigorous and significantly less costly than previous generations.

If assumptions about older workers’ health, cost and ability to learn, etc. etc. prove to be unfounded could they provide a new source of engaged and flexible workers at price points that have a higher return than competing for those same scarce skills in the marketplace? Should we be asking them about their plans and aspirations as they approach retirement age, matching and even developing their ability to work more effectively- on their schedule, not ours to fill critical gaps?

HR peers in Training, Benefits and Reward functions of Talent Management often raise objections related to current pension laws, training resources, motivation and more but these are transactional not business strategies. Talent Acquisition influences the business in ways other elements of HR do not and recruiting our own employees for new ways to work is a TA function whose strategy with potential solutions our peers may not be willing to consider. Reasonable accommodations using technology, robotics, AI and more might also extend well into retirement the retention of employees performing critical and highly skilled jobs.

Want to be perceived as strategic? This entire series by the Wall Street Journal is worth reading in its entirety. Propose an internal Talent Management challenge/exercise to consider the impact these future scenarios have on today’s businesses. Remember, “the future is already here- it’s just not very evenly distributed.” (William Gibson). Let us know if you would want to build out some of these ideas for your staff or an all hands meeting to brainstorm long-term strategies.

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