Due to technology, medicine, and improvements in public health, people are living longer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. life expectancy reached 78.8 years in 2014. Physical activity and healthy eating habits have also contributed to this and, in turn, these new ways of living and our longer lifespans are impacting the workforce as we know it.
Projections suggest life expectancy will surpass 100 years in some advanced countries by the second half of this century—roughly triple the lifespan that was prevalent throughout most of humanity. As we move toward healthier and more active lifestyles, this changes how we eat, how we live and how we work.
We often hear that the best companies to work for are those that place an emphasis on physical activity through workplace design such as treadmills, stand-up desks and even yoga balls as seating options. Companies are stocking their cabinets with unprocessed food and providing gym memberships, and employees are making a conscious effort to limit sitting for long periods of time.
Yet the most sought-after career benefits of the near future may not be limited to yoga balls and complimentary health food. Longevity is changing the way we live and is on its way to changing the way we work.
Lifelong learning is about continuing education in order to keep up with the evolving workforce, all while supporting both personal and organizational longevity. As the pace of business continues to accelerate, employees’ knowledge and educational backgrounds are quickly becoming recreated in a sense. On-the-job education will be essential whether that’s achieved through experience or additional training.
Longer lifespans and the constant technological advances have cultivated the need for lifelong learning, but how will this be supported by businesses in the future? Changes may include more flexible hours to support learning environments that focus on training and development, and a shift in an organization’s reward system. Businesses may move toward a better balance between salary, lifestyle and career enhancement.
Lifelong learning may also stimulate a cultural change with regard to employee productivity and the impact it has on a company’s bottom line. Organizations will encourage further education to stimulate motivation and increase competitive advantage.
Multiple Jobs and Careers
Many people may not stay with one employer for their entire career. Because of this, organizations will begin to shift their focus to talent pipelining, building relationships and networking in order to recruit top talent as well as gain referrals for the future.
According to Institute For the Future (IFTF), “Multiple careers will be commonplace and lifelong learning to prepare for occupational change will see major growth. To take advantage of this well-experienced and still vital workforce, organizations will have to rethink the traditional career paths in organizations, creating more diversity and flexibility.” Contrary to multiple jobs, multiple careers may actually encourage employees to stay within the same organization, but switch to a different department or take on an entirely new role. Managers of the workplace will need to support both of these scenarios.
New Skill Sets
As change becomes constant in the workplace and the desire for multiple careers increases, employees’ skill sets will begin to transform in relation to this. According to the 2017 PWC Global CEO study, 77 percent of CEOs say a shortage of key skills could impair their company’s growth. They know they can’t innovate using technology alone. Computational thinking and new media literacy are just a few of the skills IFTF predicts will be needed most in our future workforce. With employees acquiring new skills faster than ever, the tools and workspaces will also need to adapt in order to support them.
With a workforce that is living longer, workplace dynamics are being altered in ways unimaginable.