The New Map of Life: Working longer with more flexibility

As many as half of today’s five‑year‑olds in the United States can expect to live to the age of 100, according to a new report from the Stanford Center on Longevity. And they can expect to spend at least 60 years of their longer lives at work.

This new reality is the focus of the report, The New Map of Life, published by the Stanford Center on Longevity and sponsored in part by Bank of America. It explores the impact of longer lifespans from different perspectives—social, work, financial, health—with emphasis on ideas that can help enhance and enrich experiences throughout a person’s extended life journey.

The report describes how the workplace could evolve to meet the needs of employees working longer, and how this could be beneficial to all. Here’s a summary of the ideas presented in the report:

More flexible schedules can result in a win-win

Older workers are more likely to opt for a flexible schedule, consulting or gig work over promotions or pay increases. For organizations willing to be more flexible, it’s a win‑win situation. Employees get the opportunity to continue to earn income on terms that are comfortable for them, while organizations benefit from being able to tap into an experienced pool of talent to support their staffing needs.

Did you know? Older people who work tend to be healthier and have greater mental agility than those who do not work.1

On- and off-ramps for work to accommodate changing needs

Providing routes in and out of the workplace to support employees’ evolving needs, including parenting, caregiving, health needs and educational/learning opportunities, can help provide employees at all life stages with more sustainable, secure and satisfying working lives.

Gliding into retirement

Rather than abruptly retiring at a predetermined age, workers could choose a “glide path” to retirement over the course of several years, allowing them to gradually reduce working hours while remaining active contributors to the workforce. This approach can help employees avoid potential financial and health consequences that can come from retiring too early or before they are ready.

Expanding the talent pool

Some companies are also experimenting with “returnships” that incentivize retired workers to come back to the workplace to both share their experience and alleviate employers’ recruiting challenges in tight labor markets.

To learn more about this new reality and how we can thrive in it, download The New Map of Life.

1 Driver, T., & Henshon, A. (2020). Working Longer Solves (Almost) Everything: The Correlation between Employment, Social Engagement and Longevity. SSRN Electronic Journal. Published.

Source: The Stanford Center on Longevity, The New Map of Life, November 2021.