I subscribe to an email newsletter from Science Daily. I find it fascinating as each day I get information on the latest research on a variety of topics. So today's included:
Barefoot Running Easier Than Shoes on Feet
Rotting Fish Illuminate Our Earliest Ancestry
New Species of Tyrannosaur
Stratospheric Water Vapor: Warming Wild Card
Astronomers Discover Coolest Sub-Stellar Body
Gene Function Discovery: Guilt by Association
Emissions of Potent Greenhouse Gas Increasing
Microbes Produce Fuels Directly from Biomass
Gecko's Lessons Applied to Microelectronics
Why Jupiter's Ganymede and Callisto Differ
Clearly they're not all relevant to organization design and culture but more than you might think are which makes reading through the list worth the time spent – although I have a tendency to get sidetracked as I scan for potentially relevant items.
A couple of days ago there was a piece on How to Live Your Life Twice: Psychologist Busts a Myth and Offers Tips to Counter a Mid-Life Crisis. The psychologist in question (two in fact) Carlo Strenger and Arie Ruttenberg suggests that "the mid-life years are the best time of life to flourish and grow". That sounded good to me so I read on. I must have missed the HBR article (Feb 2008) that had in it the article The Existential Necessity of Midlife Change written by the same two. The synopsis reads:
"As life expectancy in the West increases and companies can no longer promise lifelong security, many businesspeople will need to make major changes during middle age, embarking on a second life and a second career. They must start by getting beyond two pervasive and opposing myths. The first is that midlife marks the onset of decline. Problems do arise during middle age – concerns about health and finances, for instance – but one's life force does not expire at 65, nor do possibilities vanish."
Good words that led me to remember Encore.org that describes itself as
"published by Civic Ventures a nonprofit think tank that is leading the call to engage millions of experienced individuals in becoming a force for social change. Civic Ventures focuses on creating pathways to encore careers that provide continued income doing work that is personally fulfilling and helps address some of society's biggest challenges".
("Experienced individuals" is a euphemism for people older than 50 or 60).
Out of interest, or maybe necessity I trawled through the "I want an encore career" section. It's got a good range of information, advice, and jobs to apply for. Many of the jobs seemed directed at all age groups and I'd be interested to know what proportion of the 'encorers' actually get a job they've applied for and how many go to younger people – but perhaps I'm skeptical of the view that organizations are keen to employ older workers.
However the vast number of books and articles on the topic of older workers, and the fact that the number of workers age 65 and older is predicted to increase by more than 80 percent by 2016 in the US, highlights the requirement to design organizations to meet this group's special needs (e.g. more autonomy, flexible working hours, etc). However meeting their needs has to be done in the context of simultaneously meeting the needs of other groups (e.g. those with dependants, new values related to sustaintability, and so on) Doing this effectively means knowing how to design organizations for maximum employee motivation and productivity.