In this week's blog: The best books on our ageing society, and what it means both for individuals and for companies.
My friends might think it's a bit of an odd quirk, but when I'm relaxing in the summer I like to read.
Not the news… or a novel… or anything resembling traditional summer reading.
…but a thought-provoking non-fiction book.
This year, I’m going to be reading about the same theme I’ve been talking to you about for the last few months: Our ageing society, and what that means both for individuals and for companies.
Truth is, I’ve spent all year reading about this, and I’ve come across some truly fascinating, sometimes life-changing volumes.
So today I’m going to share my top 5 choices with you.
You might want to pick up one or two of them yourself, if not on the beach then perhaps during a quiet weekend!
So, here's my top 5 books of 2019 (so far!):
People in their 50s and 60s often cannot afford to retire – or they don’t want to retire quite yet.
Yet society doesn’t necessarily value their contribution in the workplace.
So how can people of this age make the most of their future?
Tim Drake provides a framework for people to work out what they really want from their later years, so they can take control and make purposeful choices.
He outlines four mindsets people can take into retirement:
The earning mindset - where workers move into semi-retirement
The learning mindset - where you engage with lifelong learning
A giving mindset - where you get involved in volunteering, caring for others and sharing experience and wisdom
A recharging mindset - where you enjoy sports, hobbies, travel, socialising and other activities that make life meaningful.
Each benefits both the individuals and society as a whole.
I gave this book to a member of staff who wanted to retire but was putting it off and getting stressed because he wasn’t clear on what retirement might look like for him.
After he read the book, he started viewing his retirement as a project (a bit like a work project….) and was able to flesh out his plans, so he could transition from a structured work week to a less structured life. So, this is a very practical as well as very inspirational book!
- Clash of the Generations: Managing the New Workplace Reality by Valerie Grubb
As we extend our work lives, the workplace contains a larger mix of ages than ever before.
In fact, the typical workplace has up to four generations working together – each with their own ideas and expectations about work/life balance, the meaning of work, career development and so on.
How do you manage this mix?
The author’s key message is that you have to get this age-diverse workforce working together, so it becomes “more than the sum of its parts”. It is packed with useful case studies and strategies showing you how to do this.
Of all the books I’ve read on this topic, this was the only one that pulled in almost all the themes I’ve been talking about in my recent emails together in one place.
It's an academically rigorous book but written from the American perspective.
That's why we're now preparing our own book addressing these issues from a UK perspective - more news of that will be on its way to you soon!
- The Value of Difference: Eliminating Bias in Organisations by Binna Kandola
My interest in age-diversity led to me to read more about diversity in its broader sense.
There is nowhere better to start than this book, which looks at diversity from the perspective of human behaviour and psychology.
It asks why we choose to affiliate with some people and not with others, and why recruitment bias, pay gaps, and unfair privileges still exist in today's workplace just as much as they did 20 years ago.
This was a heavy book to read, but I personally gained enormously from seeing things from a very different perspective to the one I’m used to (my own – a 50-ish white English male)…
Purposely pausing to look at life through a different pair of eyes can help to reduce unconscious bias in your thinking and decision-making. That's an important skill for anyone, in business and life, and this book will definitely challenge your thinking.
- Keeping The Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It by Joanne Sujansky and Jan Ferri-Reed
Millennials are renowned for their high turnover rate as employees. This book explores why that's happening, what drives millennials to switch jobs more often, and why they aren't necessarily happy with the same roles and workplace policies as older employees.
It also explains what companies can do to integrate and engage all generations of the workforce equally. This is key to avoid losing money because of a high turnover amongst disappointed younger workers.
I found this to be a nice easy read that really picked up on some of the millennial-related topics we’ve been talking about in my recent blogs.
It reinforces our own experience, which is that millennials want to work with a company that has a strong mission, flexible workday and workweek and good career structure.
- The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking the Workplace by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman
Do you find your millennial employees hard to understand?
Read this one together with Keeping the Millennials.
It is another short, fun-to-read book on the different views and values held by employees in different age groups. It explores the generation gap, and how it affects both intergenerational teams and the managers of multi-generation workforces.
Again, it's all a matter of perspective! An older employee might see millennials very differently to the way they see themselves.
This book will get you thinking about what millennials really want from the workplace – and how best to harness their talents.
In summary: If you're looking for a holiday read that's more meaningful than the average airport novel, I recommend any of the above...
...and if you know a good book that you think I'd enjoy, please do let me know - I'm always adding to my must-read list!