Category Archives: @aarpny

NOT an Age Thing

#agreesharon
Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.
Let me know what you think.

young and old

NOT an age thing   More #millennials report experiencing age discrimination than Gen X and Boomers combined, per recent AARP Research. This represents huge opportunities for cross generational work flows.

Did you collaborate with someone today who has 10 or more years of age than you do? Let’s create some conversation – What was it like?

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Forgetfulness or a Senior Moment?

#agreesharon
Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.
Let me know what you think.

brain photo

Millennials call it forgetfulness or a memory lapse; Boomers call it a senior moment or a brain freeze. Source: AARP Research When boomers use these terms, are they subconsciously reinforcing out of date perceptions? #disruptaging

Forgetful Brain Freeze

#agreesharon
Life is filled with so many interesting moments that I decided to create a weekly conversation starter around one of the more entertaining observations made during the previous week. Nothing too complicated — fun to see how people answer the question.
Let me know what you think.
brain

Millennials call it forgetfulness or a memory lapse; Boomers call it a senior moment or a brain freeze. Source: AARP Research When boomers use these terms, are they subconsciously reinforcing out of date perceptions?

If you are a boomer reading this….use the word forgetful, the next time you just can’t put your finger on what it is you want to say!

 

Leveraging Today’s Workforce for a Competitive Advantage

Traditional employment models and traditional retirement models are changing daily as 10,000 Baby Boomers born between 1946 and 1964 celebrate a 65th birthday — previously coined “retirement age”.  The aging of the workforce presents employers with challenges related to compensation, retirement, work preferences, knowledge transfer, and so much more. This environment demands a methodical and holistic strategy for managing a multi-generational workforce.

This article will summarize the @Fedcap hosted #SolutionSeries  with a guest panel that included Dick Cattani of the Compass Group, Dr. Kathleen Christensen of the Working Longer Program of the Alfred P Sloan Foundation and Sandra Timmermann, Founder of the MetLife Mature Market Institute.  The discussion focused on today’s changing workplace demographics.

One of the first things to acknowledge within this transformational change is the wide variety of nomenclature that is used to address the individuals that sit smack in the center of this demographic shift.  During the 45 minute panel discussion, reference was made to:

  • The Baby Boomers
  • High Potential Late Career Individuals
  • Older Workers
  • Aging Americans
  • Those preparing to Age Gracefully
  • Seniors
  • Transitioning Employees
  • And, a few more phrases!

So what are some of the impacts that this aging workforce is creating in the marketplace:

Our longer life expectancies have created a 30 year retirement after a 40 year career. Uh-oh!

Perhaps the word retirement needs to be redefined to reflect a life stage that occurs much, much later in one’s lifetime. Employers need to start thinking about a longer working period during which individuals are looking for a balanced life that includes continued work, play, volunteerism and more.

The objective is for work: life balance, not workplace separation or a career conclusion.  In fact, just the other day my friend Judy, who recently made a retirement agreement with her corporate employer defined retirement as “the ability to work on my terms” – no change to her work ethics or to the  ferocious vigor that she pursues in her work – but, “on her terms”!

The time is ripe for new models of worker engagement.

A diverse workforce needs to include the aging American work patterns.

“Businesses are not thinking about an older workforce except for graceful exits” said Dr. Kathleen Christensen. “Business has spent a lot of time recently creating a diverse workforce” said Dick Cattani, and the definition of diversity did not include the aging workforce.

Hearsay conversations revealed mixed findings on those corporations that are putting formal programs in place to respond to the aging worker trend.

Employers are fast realizing that the aging worker population presents a complex employee profile.  

Our lifecycles include Adult 2.0

Timmermann referenced a new lifecycle stage called Adult 2.0. Others have referenced this period as our Encore years, our Second Act or Life Reimagined. For Timmerman, the 21st century creation of Adult 2.0 is similar to the recognition of the adolescent life stage during the 1930’s; it is a unique period of time filled with change, growth, exploration and experimentation.

With the creation of adult 2.0, we move through life in five stages: childhood, adolescence, adulthood, adulthood 2.0 and old age.

Employers will want to take another look at this new generation of 2.0 adults and remember that most are Boomers who influenced so many aspects of society as they moved through the last several decades. Whether these trailblazers continue to work or become agents of change in their communities, they will define what it means to live and to contribute in this new stage of life, now and for future generations.

Look around – for many — 2.0 includes many re-incarnations of their identity, incorporating new talents, hobbies and relaxed attitudes!

Millennial and Boomers have more in common than first appears! Think Work: Life Balance 

When talking to the win-win that flex-scheduling can provide, imagine the impact on a millennial, born after 1980, whose flex schedule allows them more time with their young children. Simultaneously imagine the Baby Boomer, born between 1946 and 1964, whose flexible schedule allows them more time to pursue their hobbies, their volunteer interests or their family caregiver commitments.

Scheduled in a complimentary fashion, the millennial employee, the boomer employer and the employer have all received flexibility which meets their needs. Everyone wins. Everyone feels better and everyone believes that they have achieved some sense of control in their work: life balance.

Flexible Work Schedules are Strategic Tools for Developing Human Capital 

The panelists acknowledged that numerous studies have shown the positive impact on productivity, employee engagement and employee satisfaction levels when flexible working schedules are employed.  To do this necessitates a culture of respect and trust and will evolve through a new style of win-win negotiation in the workplace. “Companies should not view flex-schedules as an employee accommodation or an employee perk, but rather as a strategic business tool that they use to strengthen their employee capital “, said Dr. Christensen.

Boomer Weaknesses and Millennial Strengths often Mirror Each Other 

Example #1:  Strategic thinking, the ability to lead through a crisis, and a brain-bank of Best Practices are traits most likely achieved only through the tenure and experience of someone aged 50 plus. Technological literacy and the use of social media channels may (or may not) be easier for the millennial.

Put together correctly, the productivity outputs of this duo can be multiplicative.

Panelists referenced the creation of mixed-age teams that have been empirically tested in Europe and the results showed that the inter-generational teams proved most productive and gratified for all participants.

Example #2: Boomers and millennials want to do good work and they want to be recognized for same. Careers take on many variations of a bell curve; for many Baby Boomers in traditional corporate backgrounds, they spent the decades of their 30-50 years climbing the corporate ladder and playing the political games. In the traditional workforce the millennial are now entering the heat of their ladder-climbing career stage.

Team efforts which allow for coaching, mentoring and knowledge transference can benefit both employer and employee alike.

Companies have a bias against the older worker  

In an AARP survey of registered NYC voters over the age of 50, one third said that they or someone they know has experienced age discrimination in the workplace. Myths, stereotypes and biases are common.

Companies have a bias against the older worker. Wikipedia defines a company as “an association or collection of individuals, people or “warm-bodies” …. Company members share a common purpose and unite in order to focus their various talents and organize their collectively available skills or resources to achieve specific, declared goals……”

We change companies by changing the individuals who make decisions for companies. 

  • What is your business doing to recruit, engage and retain talented employees at different career stages?
  • How does your business use a multi-generational approach to creating work teams across the organization?

Repeat: We change companies by changing the individuals who make decisions for companies.  

Healthy, well-educated, enthusiastic people of all ages want to have a seat at the table. It is one’s attitude, not one’s age that defines one’s abilities to make a difference!

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Tweets All My Own

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The FedCap Solution Series gathers employers’ nonprofits, advocates and other thought-leaders to analyze the barriers between Americans and economic independence – and to develop informed and actionable plans to break through those barriers. The Fedcap Solution Series is designed to trigger discussions and frame the questions that ultimately lead to the right solutions

Reflections on a Mayoral Forum

Reflections on a NYC Mayoral Forum:

AARP NYC launched a new Go Local campaign on August 6 which included a mayoral forum targeting the city’s 50-plus voter community. The room was abuzz with 1,000 attendees, 50 media outlets and 10 of the 11 NYC mayoral candidates. What a happening for AARPNY!

These events often take on a life of their own and when one mayoral candidate called another candidate “Grandpa”, the press officially had another twist on the story to report. And they did!

  • The Grandpa comment was described as “being made in a room filled with senior citizens”.
  • And, AARP was further defined as the organization behind “this senior citizen event”.
  • The candidates represented referenced their views on “helping those senior citizens in the room”.

What is a senior citizen, I ask? Age or attitude?

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau, quoted in an NTAR Leadership Center Study,  suggest that, by 2016, one-third of the total U.S. workforce will be age 50 or older, and will increase to 115 million by 2020 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2010)

Supporting every possible product or service line, the advertisers are working hard to make “70 the new 50” and likewise convince us all…that the best is yet to come. The reality is that the words “senior citizen” still has a negative connotation in our society: retiree, old-timer, fuddy-duddy and such. When was the last time you heard someone refer to a senior citizen as a thought leader or an innovator?

So as someone on the very edge of the baby boomer tail, I found myself bewildered as the candidates called the AARP membership of 50 – plus year olds senior citizens. And, I found myself laughing at the hypocrisy of the whole situation. When you looked around the room in real-time, it did not appear that anyone in the room had taken a day off from the social adult day-care programs.

With 7 of the 11 candidates aged 50 plus, do these candidates consider themselves senior citizens? They kept referring to the AARP members as senior citizens. Does NYC want to elect a senior citizen to run their city?

A 2012 Harvard Business Review Blog called: How Companies Must Adapt for an Aging Workforce does a nice job summarizing the situation:

  • First, attitudes need to change; Businesses and people alike need to practice what they claim to support.
  • Older workers are often seen as a burden, with younger candidates preferred in recruitment decisions. In economies where knowledge rules, the experience of older workers grows in value.
  • Older people are seen as fragile. Yes, many are. Others are not. At some point, the 80:20 rule kicks in and with the population life expectancies ever increasing, the age where the disproportionate expenses truly kick into place is increasing as well.

So everybody, please, stop calling those who are aged 50-plus senior citizens. And for the Mayoral Candidates: Recognize the new reality and explain how you will address the situations of those:

  • Who are 50-plus and experiencing age discrimination in the workplace
  • Who are dependent on social services and unable to earn an income any longer
  • Who are unable to retire as planned because the costs of living are rising
  • Who are uncertain how they will afford to age gracefully in place, in NYC, because of ever-increasing costs for housing and utility bills, issues of crime and safety and more!

Let’s get focused and back on track. NYC is one of the greatest cities on this earth. What makes the candidates qualified to sit at the head of the table running a $70 Billion budget?

BTW: For a detailed review of the issues NYC 50-plus voters are talking about around their kitchen table, check out:  http://www.aarp.org/NYC50plus

Guest Blogger @AARPNY. Tweets all mine

Slow Down to Accelerate

Our family lived in Toronto for 9 years. For the first 6 months, I was so pleased when I would call someone and by the time that I finished saying “Hi so-and-so” they were already responding with “Hi Sharon”. Caller ID was not the vogue yet so I felt so special that they recognized me so quickly. How did you know it was me so fast?” I would ask. The answer was always “your accent”. “What accent, I sound just like you do” Hmmmmm

Two other times in my life I have been told that my speech is distinctive. The first significant time was also in Canada. On the launch team for a first of kind product in the country, it was an exciting time and one where my USA experience was often referenced. In one particular meeting with the SVP of the division, I was presenting my ideas on the qualitative and quantitative research strategies that I was responsible for spearheading. I was SO excited. My hands were moving, my lips were grinning ear to ear and I was excited to be telling the story and responding to the questions. At the end of the meeting, the SVP pulls me aside and says slowly and seriously:

  • Your ideas are fabulous. You understand our objectives and have a great handle on how to approach the business
  • Your energy is contagious
  • However when you speak so quickly, I can barely keep up with you.

With a big grin on his face, he said: “If I am digesting the details to put your second suggestion into place and find myself coming out of this mind-set to hear you speaking about the fourth suggestion, we both loose. I am the big guy here. I cannot admit that I missed a step and need you to go back and explain something to me again. LOL. Seriously, please speak slowly. Make sure that I am with you every three-to-four sentences. In whatever way you must, get the input of the audience and the senior most member of your audience more often so that you know when best to move on to discussing the next suggestion. ”

I will never forget that moment and I do a pretty good job stopping myself whenever I find myself racing through a presentation that I find super exciting. Self: Speak slowly

The second time in my life that I have been told that my speech is distinctive took place a few weeks ago. My mind was racing and I was determined to have an uber-efficient day. With a pre-scheduled exploratory telephone call, I took the call ready to learn and to share. Some 6 minutes into the conversation, I was told” “Sharon, I know we have spoken at the ….  Association meetings however I am having trouble placing your face right now.” In front of a computer, logged onto Linked in, I soon appeared on the screen of my colleague “Sharon, of course, I know you and remember you. Are you okay? You sound very tense. Did I say something to make you uncomfortable? When we spoke in person, your smile radiated energy and I was thrilled to speak with you. It is my pleasure to help you. Is everything okay with you today?”

Wow. I was shocked. There was a lot on my mind. And, one particular comment she made diverted my attention to how best to approach the particular challenge. This person did me a huge favor by telling me that my voice had betrayed me. Huge eye-opener!

I will never forget that moment. I am currently looking for a wonderful visual to keep on my desk that is guaranteed to make me laugh. Perhaps I will also use the long recognized mirror – on – my – desk trick, while further alternating between standing and sitting just to keep all senses active.  Self: Deep breath. Speak in a manner that displays on-going confidence and enthusiasm.

Guest Blogger @AARPNY. Tweets all mine

GIGO Networking

GIGO stands for Garbage in – and – Garbage out. It applies to the integrity of the data that you analyze, the food you prepare, and the gardens that you plant. Quality inputs have a higher chance of generating quality outputs.

How do we apply this in our daily lives? You walk into a restaurant and the bathroom is spotless, the air smells faintly of lavender….nice. And the assumption is that: yes, the kitchen too must be in good shape.  I am excited to eat in this restaurant.

How about when you move into an apt, a home or a dorm room? Did the previous resident leave it clean or are you finding the dust bunnies everywhere and an unmatched paint color left on the wall where some big piece of furniture previously sat. I remember doing the walk-through for the first home we bought in Bergen County, New Jersey.  You could smell the lemon-fresh Pinesol the minute you entered the home and every toilet had the scrubbing bubbles still perky and peaked. What pride, what TLC….the previous owners were moving elsewhere. The contract read broom-swept. These were people who cared about their surroundings even after they left. The message was “Welcome to this home.”

Shaping the next phases of my life, what message do I leave when I walk out of a meeting? Besides the professional capabilities that I bring to the table, do I come across as someone that would be fun to work with? Would I be empathetic to my associates? A team player? A quick learner?

A smart person can learn a new skill; a difficult person…. no matter how smart will be a diversion to the group.

How do we apply this to networking?

  • Be nice
  • Be generous
  • Be sincere

We cannot get an employment offer from every potential interview, nor can  we become the new best friend of everyone we meet…..however we can  leave a memory that says: That’s a good person. If I can help them out, I will…..

And, when you can do that, all the other advice about networking has a chance of succeeding.

Ricki Lee Jones said “You Never Know When You’re Making a Memory”

Guest Blogger @AARPNY. Tweets all mine