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Extended life spans will transform workplace norms

Population trends will collide in the workplace—where as many as four generations will work side-by-side. New leadership competencies related to aging will emerge.

Wisdom Weavers


Longevity is one of the critical issues that will transform the future of work, according to our Wisdom Weavers. Certain aspects of longevity—such as the individual burden of providing retirement income for thirty years or more—raise societal concerns about poverty in old age. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of prosperity is at risk. For societies to flourish, workers, employers, and social policy experts need to cultivate a greater level of conscious awareness and personal responsibility for adapting our current systems for longer life spans. 


Population trends will collide in the workplace.

While global populations are shrinking, people are living longer than ever before, resulting in multi-generational workplaces. 

According to Marcus Ranney, organizations in India accommodate as many as four generations working side-by-side.

“In India right now we’ve got around a million people aged 18 entering the workforce every month and that’s going to continue for many decades to come. So there is often a position of conflict within organizations, because on one side, we have people who’ve been there for many, many years and then, on the other side you’ve got these younger generations of Millennials and Generation Z.”

Dr. Marcus Ranney


Accepted beliefs about retirement may alter—or even vanish.

With expanded life expectancy, is it reasonable to think that people can amass sufficient retirement income by age 65? 

Anthropologist Dana Ardi believes that assumptions about retirement age need to shift.

“Some people face mandatory retirement at age fifty-five or sixty-five, but healthcare developments have given us the opportunity to live to age 80 or 100. So how will people take care of themselves?”

Dr. Dana Ardi

And Marcus Ranney questions if retirement itself—as a hard-earned life milestone—will fade in the future.

“If we’re looking at the realistic situation in the next few decades, where life expectancies continue to increase, and we see people living to become centenarians and longer. Then the age of retirement—if people even retire at all—it’s going to be extrapolated even further out.” 

Dr. Marcus Ranney


Attunement to our changing world requires a conscious awareness of shifting human needs. 

Vivian Mansi claims we each have a role—and personal responsibility—to consider how longevity will shape the Future of Work. 

“I think the challenge for organizations in the future is, is to build this consciousness that helps us to make good decisions to prepare the future, not just for our generation, but for the next one.” 

Viviane Mansi

Marcus Ranney sees a new leadership competency related to aging.

“The philosophical challenge of multi-generational workplaces requires employers to understand each generation’s objectives in terms of purpose and meaning. It is very important for us to get this right, because it’s a problem that will need to be solved for a very long period of time.” 

Dr. Marcus Ranney

Dana Ardi considers the human welfare implications of a society that fails to adequately help individuals prepare for unprecedented life spans.

“If we don’t address that as a structure, as part of the infrastructure, providing opportunities for people to be purposeful at that stage of life, to share their wisdom and economically to benefit from that opportunity, we might have a social problem, the likes of which we haven’t seen before.” 

Dr. Dana Ardi

Marcus Ranney believes we have interdependent systems that rely on people thriving at work:

“So, we’re going to have to solve these problems, not only from a health perspective, but from an engagement perspective and from an economical perspective.” 

Dr. Marcus Ranney


Longevity is also a sign of psychological and physical wellbeing.

And the Quest for Meaning in the Future of Work can improve the human experience.

According to Marcus Ranney, the goal of

“creating purpose around meaning in our lives is going to be as important, if not more, than ensuring that we have a healthy fulfilled and happy and long life span. Many years ago, the Stanford Study on Longevity showed that the biggest driver towards a person’s enhanced life span was not just physical health, but it came from a sense of purpose, societal relationships, and participating in a community.” 

Dr. Marcus Ranney


Coaching Empowers People 

Globally, life spans are increasing. According to the United Nations, there were approximately 95,000 centenarians in 1990 and that number could reach 25 million in the year 2100. Coaching is a developmental tool that enables individuals to adopt positive and constructive methods for adapting to change. Through powerful questions and reflection, coaching helps people envision their best possible future, discover their new purpose, and explore and use their own resources to optimize vitality.

In the workplace, extended life spans may open new opportunities and challenges for organizational culture and communication. Coaching helps leaders and employees consider how these changes can open up new opportunities for personal growth and organizational collaboration across generations.

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