Catherine Rickwood at TEDx Canberra

by Kate Marshall

“It’s time to look at where we want to go. To create a new future. A different future. A future that utilises and maximises this gift of longer lives.”

~Catherine Rickwood, TEDx Canberra 2018~

September was an exciting month for Dr Catherine Rickwood, stepping onto the red dot – the round red carpet that adorns stages for TEDx events around the world. Catherine’s compelling TED talk took us on a journey that questioned the long-held premise of retirement and how we currently live our lives – at a time when our lives are so long and becoming longer.

What are the implications of longer lives for organisations?

It’s crucial that organisations start re-imagining their workforce and create structures, policies and practices unbounded by existing age stereotypes. It’s time to acknowledge the impact of our ever-increasing life spans and challenge our current approaches to older workers and customers.

“Remove the invisible but fully present age ceiling in our thinking, attitudes, beliefs and behaviour about what we believe people can or can’t do based on their age.”

~Catherine Rickwood, TEDx Canberra 2018~

Why?

Because traditional views of ageing (ones of decline and decrepitness) no longer stack up. Imagination and innovation are limited by our outdated understanding of what it means to age. Today older Australians (aged 55 and above) are typically wealthier, healthier, more active and more technically savvy than previous generations. And, as Catherine says:

Planning our working lives to this end point in our sixties limits our potential and robs our world of knowledge, skills and experience that could contribute to positive social, economic and environmental change”.

What next?

Discover the revenue benefits and cost savings of building business and HR strategies that smash age stereotypes and eliminate ageism. Consider introducing one of these 3 strategies:

  1. Intergenerational job-sharing.
  2. Product innovation through co-design with customers of all ages.
  3. Communications audit of printed and electronic media. How are age stereotypes being reinforced?

More specifically:

Hiring managers and HR teams – have you considered the impact of enforced retirement age policies? What retraining opportunities exist for all staff and do you have a cross-mentorship program?

Product designers, developers and marketers – have you thought about diversifying the product offering to the over 55s? If so, are you treating the over 55s as one homogenous customer segment or developing products and marketing campaigns based on outmoded cultural stereotypes – like Apple?

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About the Author

Kate Marshall

Kate was a management consultant and project manager who worked for Catherine Rickwood, (previously Three Sisters Group). She is now following her passions as a language teacher and tutor specialising in French and German.

Catherine Rickwood is solutions-focussed, working with innovative organisations keen to improve customer and employee insights and empathy to increase their success in new markets, build loyalty, and increase innovation. She does this using a co-design process that engages employees and key stakeholders to create collaborative solutions. Contact Catherine to discover how her services can support your organisation to harness the changing demographic reality.

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