The 21st century employment lifecycle: permanent pit stop at 40?

young professionals today are planning an early retirement to live the life of their dreams

millennials have redefined 21st century workplace culture. the ‘golden age of retirement’ – originally a phrase attributed to people in their late 50’s and 60’s – is being spoken of by young professionals in their 40’s or even 30’s. the whole concept of retirement is no longer associated with age – the paradigms have shifted to include a) shift in priorities once primary responsibilities are taken care of and b) the desire to achieve the freedom to do things radically independent of a professional vocation. ambitious young professionals are making powerful financial decisions at the start of their career to create a good nest egg and defying traditional norms that define 65 years as the comfortable age when one can retire with a fat bank balance and years of professional satisfaction.

the word ‘retirement’ has acquired a different meaning today

the idea of retirement nowadays can be attributed to people’s ability to secure their future as well as that of their families. with proper financial planning, professionals are already building their exit strategy at the very start of their careers. it is about having a 360 degree view of the future in terms of fulfilling basic commitments and responsibilities and ensuring adequate savings that can take care of the rainy days. no longer are millennials willing to slave till the end of their professional lives; the desire to follow dreams and pursue varied interests takes predominance over working in a monotonous 9 to 5 job. 

retirement can also denote moving away from a high-paying corporate job to take up a vocation of personal interest, and this may or may not involve a monetary aspect. an early retirement can also be attributed to certain professions. for instance, the rate of premature retirement is seen more in the it sector, probably due to professional pressures and the level of stress involved. doctors, bankers, entrepreneurs, and service oriented professionals continue to work until their late years, and while no profession is without stress, the it sector somehow witnesses more number of early retirements than other industries. 

the disappearance of young talent in india

india and few other emerging economies such as malaysia and philippines have the youngest working populations in the world today. with millennials dominating the workforce and more number of jobs created every day, it is likely that industries will witness a young talent boom – provided this talent stays on till the erstwhile retirement age of 60-65 years. given the current trend of retiring at about 40 years, we may soon witness a scenario where the young professional crowd prevalent in it and related industries will very soon diminish, leading to a severe shortage of skilled talent. with the western world looking at india and the asia pacific region as strategic outsourcing destinations, an early retirement trend can cause serious ramifications to resource mobilization at a global level. 

should organisations encourage retirement at 40?

this can be a tricky question. today’s workplace culture offers a great deal of opportunities for young professionals to plan out their career and financial stability in the first few years, enabling them to invest right and save right for a job-free future spent on activities of personal interest. with a global corporate acceptance to demolish the standard retirement age of 65 years, organisations are facing a situation where baby boomers continue to work well into their golden years while millennials move swiftly from opportunity to opportunity, eventually retiring at a young age after amassing a great deal of money and experience. with a rapidly declining young workforce, organisations are facing a grave deficit of talent, skill, and innovation that can fuel business expansion. that said, the older generation of workers still holds on to its belief of retiring well past the 60’s. the bottom line is to have a heady mix of baby boomers and millennials who can complement each other and create a more productive workplace.

40 seems to be the new 60 for a growing number of ambitious young individuals who are making smart career and financial decisions to create a comfortable reserve for the future. at the organisational level, it’s not policy but productivity that matters – age and experience notwithstanding.  

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