In this week's blog: We are living longer, and working longer. Here's why companies should offer their employees a formal mid-life review.
Recently, I took my car in for its MOT.
I can’t say I ever look forward to this annual appointment – I’d much rather do other things with my time.
But having qualified technicians examine my car is obviously worthwhile if I don’t want to wind up stranded on the side of the road, with a broken down car, one day….
In a little over an hour, they made sure my car’s brakes and fuel system were working properly, that the exhaust was up to scratch, and that my tyres and lights were functional.
At the end of the visit, they had taken care of a few minor issues, and my car received a clean bill of health.
And it got me thinking: what if we treated our careers the same way we treat our cars?
I mentioned previously that we are, on average, living longer – many children born in the last few years can reasonably expect to live to 100.
As a result, we are working longer. And that means that when you hit your mid-40s, you may still have another 20… 30… or even 35 years left to earn a living.
It makes sense, at this point, to re-evaluate where your career is going.
What changes do you need to put in place to make sure you can continue to contribute, and thrive professionally, over the coming decades?
That is why I recommend that companies offer their employees a formal mid-life review – an MOT of sorts for their careers.
Imagine sitting down with your staff and taking an honest look at where they want their career to go.
When was the last time they were encouraged to ask themselves: Am I happy with my current position? Where do I see myself in 5, 10, 15 years’ time?
Should I continue down my current path – or do something completely different?
To support my vision, are there new skills I need to develop? Given that it’s probably been 20-odd years since I graduated from university, do I need a different degree or training?
Are there funds I need to put aside to make all this possible?
A mid-life career review will get them thinking about these key issues. Then they can find creative solutions where possible – together with your support.
They want more flexibility? Maybe the answer is a part-time position or shared work schedule.
They need additional skills? Perhaps your company can help fund their training, or make sure they have the flexibility in their schedule to accommodate further education.
A staff member is keen to take a career break? Perhaps you can keep their position open, so they can return fully refreshed and full of good ideas.
The idea originated with the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (NIACE) which, in 2015, piloted a “mid-life career review” (MLCR).
Thanks to the programme’s success, Aviva championed its own “mid-life MOT”.
It told employees that this was an opportunity to:
review their current wealth, work and well-being
reposition towards a longer working life
retain (and continue to grow) their valuable skills
94% of employees over the age of 45 signed up for the free service.
This suggests that staff understand full well that if they are going to continue working for another two or three decades, a bit of planning is in order.
And that is exactly why companies like yours should consider implementing a mid-career MOT, too.
Increasingly, people in their 50s are abandoning the workplace to start up their own businesses.1
As we work for longer, I believe it will become far more common for people at this stage of life to switch careers, take time out to travel, to continue their education, or to enjoy a sabbatical.
But you cannot afford to lose this established talent.
You also need them to keep their skills up-to-date, given today’s fast-changing environment.
It is in your interests to help people find ways to stay in the workforce if possible….
…and to find new ways of working which will suit them – as well as you – as their needs change.
Lastly, as a caring company, you might also want to help your workers navigate this mid-career period, and the anxieties that come with it, so that they can make the best choices.
If you would like to explore the concept of a mid-life MOT, and need inspiration to get started, I recommend starting with the free online toolkit offered by Business in the Community.
But find a structure that works for your company. Think about your employees’ demographic profile, and their unique needs.
Do you think a mid-life review would work for your company? I’d love to hear your thoughts.