When I read Kerry Hannon’s terrific article in the New York Times, “Young Women Saving to Retire Have to Play Catch Up”, I was reminded of the “advice to my younger self” exercises I and others have led in workshops. There is a lot that is powerful in thinking about your guidance to your younger self (and a reason for lots of publications on this topic).
Hannon tells us: think of your older self and start saving. Take charge of what you can. The article is filled with great resources and links and 25-year-old role models. We each need a personal longevity agenda. Many millennials are aware of this, saving more, and giving some thought to their longevity.
Unfortunately, financial planning is a long-term game. We cannot change what we did not do when we were younger, and many of us that are older are playing catch up. As Hannon points out, women face particular challenges because of the gender gap in pay and likelihood of living longer (81 years vs 76 for men). Women have less financial security given interruptions in full- time work, extended periods of part-time work, more enrollment in college, and more student loan debt. I’ve added to these concerns in an earlier blog focused on the challenges women face given the intersection of sex and age discrimination. The picture is not much better for men. Region, industry, and diversity factors like race all also play a role.
“Take care of yourself” is good advice for all. But, we cannot let the entire burden fall on individuals. Employers have a crucial role to play.''Take care of yourself' is good advice for all. But, we cannot let the entire burden fall on individuals. Employers have a crucial role to play.'Click To Tweet
Every facet of the employer-focused Respectful Exits Longevity Agenda contributes to financial wellness and, in fact, to personal and workplace well-being:
- End the 65 “sell-by” date as a mandatory or informal “retirement age”
- Practice career-long development and training of all staff
- Encourage robust flexible scheduling for employees of all ages
- Provide ongoing, on-demand financial wellness counseling
- Implement and promote flexible and phased retirement options
With that in mind, I’ll add one more piece of advice: pick the right workplace, one good for your current self and your personal longevity agenda. Use the pillars above. Ask yourself: Is your workplace providing tools to prepare for a stable financial future? Committed to equal and fair pay? Do you see diversity (including generational diversity) in leadership? Opportunities for career path flexibility and for experienced staff to mentor others?'If you see 40-year-olds worried about future opportunities because they are 'too old', and few employees over age 55, think carefully about finding a better employer.'Click To Tweet
If you see 40-year-olds worried about future opportunities because they are “too old”, and few employees over age 55, think carefully about finding a better employer. Collectively, these choices can positively impact employers and make the Respectful Exits Longevity Agenda standard practice. And, your younger self will benefit from being in a workplace that will be good for your older self.