I ran across an article in The Economist titled “The Decade of the ‘Young Old’ Begins”. It’s an interesting read worth checking out. “Young Old” – also known as YOLD – is the group of individuals between 65 and 75 years of age. The reason that the group is being called “young old” is because, while their age is in the traditional retirement range, their lifestyles aren’t.
YOLD individuals are working longer, staying healthier, and represent a significant consumer market. This should not be a surprise to anyone. Regardless of the unemployment rate, organizations need the best talent and YOLD individuals are willing to work a few more years because they want to, and they can save up a few extra dollars.
There’s research that says remaining in the working world is helping people stay healthier longer. The article cites a study that shows a positive relationship between cognitive abilities and working, which makes sense. And finally, because YOLD people are staying in the workforce longer, they can afford to do some of those things on their bucket list (i.e. spending money on travel).
While this all seems logical, organizations are behind the times when it comes to recognizing YOLD individuals and their value. Here are three areas of focus that businesses should consider:
- Ageism. I wish I could wave a magic wand and erase ageism, but I haven’t figured that one out yet. Ageism exists and organizations need to figure out how to create more inclusive workplaces. Not just because it’s the right thing to do. Selfishly, they need the talent and YOLD workers are one of the groups that can bring it. It’s time for companies to realize that inclusionary workforces bring positive results.
- Health Care. Speaking of working longer, if organizations want to enjoy high performance from their employees, then it pays to keep employees healthy – regardless of age. Now, I will admit that some of the responsibility for health falls to the individual – eating right, exercising, and preventative care. But organizations are in a position to make health care affordable.
- Retirement. This is one of the reasons that Keith and I started this blog. Thanks to YOLD, retirement is changing. Yes, at some point, we all will want to stop working and retire. But people want a modern retirement. Since Social Security and Medicare have been enacted, there have been numerous technological and societal changes. Retirement programs need to be updated to reflect the way we live our lives today.
I understand that YOLD is simply a euphuism. It’s something new and catchy, especially in the wake of “Ok, Boomer.” But YOLD does raise some good points about aging and work, health, and retirement. Not only do businesses need to pay attention but so do individuals. Are you supporting legislators who agree with your YOLD philosophy? Do you support businesses that respect YOLD individuals? And if you’re thinking that you’re so far away from retirement that this doesn’t matter, think again. How does this impact older friends and loved ones?
The time to think about how you want to spend your YOLD years is now. Because you want to spend them your way.