Friday, June 17, 2011

"Nevertirees"? Sign Me Up!

Sorry to have missed posting the last week and a half. My excuse for this lapse of discipline is an uncharacteristic cold. It may be steaming in other parts of the world, but not here in the NW. Between sneezes, I thought about the upcoming Creative Freelancers Conference in Chicago and my plans for facilitating a roundtable discussion about the challenges of continuing to get work as an older designer. (I posted about this on May 2.) This has been the subject of much angst and debate among the scores of respondents, with many identifying themselves as “seasoned” veterans who have no desire and/or no ability to retire.  Others had sad stories about how ageism was exacerbating the difficulty of getting hired in a bad economy. The thread has been picked up on various other sites, with more people chiming in. Turns out there are a LOT of people wondering how to write their next chapter.
So when I ran across an article, “Nevertirees” Change the Retirement Landscape,” on the Workplace Magazine site, I was interested (but not surprised) to find that this issue is not limited to the creative fields. Some excerpts:
“The world’s wealthy are attaching new meaning to the concept of retirement. According to a report in the Barclays Wealth Insights series, wealthy workers prefer to continue working for as long as they are able. In addition, they expect to start businesses and take on new projects in their later years.
“The report, The Age Illusion: How the Wealthy are Redefining Their Retirement, is based on a global survey of more than 2,000 high net worth individuals who were asked to share what retirement and later life means to them. Sixty percent of respondents indicated that they intend to continue working well into their senior years. Furthermore, the concept of nonretirement is expected to grow over the coming decades, with more than 70 percent of respondents under the age of 45 stating that they will always be involved in some way in the world of work . . . [my emphasis]
“Matt Brady, Head of Wealth Advisory, Americas at Barclays Wealth says, ‘. . . This report reflects a different attitude, with people wanting to continue to challenge themselves well beyond the traditional retirement age. Indeed, many Nevertirees prefer to be actively engaged and challenged and are not bound by their age with regards to continuing their working life.’”
The Barclay report attributes this sea change in cultural attitudes partly to the economy, especially in the past few years, but also to increased healthy life spans. “This poses many interesting questions, both for individuals and for businesses. How should people plan for and lead the later stages of their life in a way that fulfills both them and their families? How can businesses make the most of the corporate memory that older workers often retain?”
So is the “tradition” of retirement on its way out? For those of us in the creative professions, an added challenge is the pervasive youth bias in marketing and advertising. How do we stay in the game? I am hoping for a robust and insightful discussion next week at the conference, and I will report back to you on my return.
Click here for the full Workplace Magazine story.
Click here to view or download Barclay’s The Age Illusion: How the Wealthy are Redefining Their Retirement.


  1. For one thing, if you love what you do, why stop?

  2. I too see people talking about this everywhere, not just in the "creative" fields. Really looking forward to an in-person discussion about this at CFC!

  3. Just read this in the wall street journal on one of my inspirations Richard Simmons (surprised?)...a tireless and passionate person who's really in it for all the right reasons - Maybe that's why he's lasted four decades

    Fitness Guru, 62, on His Career Stamina

  4. Certainly agree this is not just a phenomenon in the creative field. There is I think an interesting relationship between longevity and perceived productivity/creativity. Here's what I mean. Let's say agency creative "A" is the oldest designer in the office. He/she works hard, produces great work, has an admirable work ethic and is beloved by the management. Yet there is resentment from younger peers who believe creative "A" is deadweight and holding them back somehow. Or creative "A" is just coasting until they decide to retire. What's creative "A" to do? The environment is becoming at best passive aggressive and at worst just plain hostile. Interesting question eh?

  5. "70 percent of respondents under the age of 45 stating that they will always be involved in some way in the world of work"

    HAH! It sounds like a lot of people are really unaware that they may not be able to work as they age. And that our priorities change in ways we can't predict. For example: How many new parents predicted the sacrifices they'd willingly make for the sake of their children?

    Gerry, that's a good point about the workplace scene. And, I think there are differences in how much ageism an employee and a self-employed creative are subject to. Obviously there's always going to be competition from others, whether older or younger, but for the self-employed it's not a daily dose. The employee is more likely to get his up front and close.

    I have the sense that "seasoned" self-employed creatives are truly valued by the clients who hire them because they can be trusted to put their clients' needs first, help them to look fantastic and to meet their goals. They're not in the business of accumulating portfolio pieces for their own ends.

    I'm not saying that ageism doesn't exist. Our culture needs to learn to more actively appreciate the abilities and depth of experience that older professionals have to offer. Hopefully our culture will continue to be enlightened.