By G. A. Finch
There are two phenomena that are occurring at both ends of career trajectories. One is the FIRE Movement and the other is the substantial time extension of workforce participation.
“FIRE” stands for Financial Independence, Retire Early. Its adherents are usually younger workers who, through extreme frugality, intense saving of money, aggressive investing and diversification of income streams, aim to retire in a 10 to 20 years’ time frame, living off the sums of money accumulated through their abstemious habits and delayed gratification life styles. There exists a sizable do-it-yourself/self-improvement industry of authors, podcasters, social media influencers, bloggers and speakers devoted to inspiring and educating FIRE aspirants and practitioners. Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic and massive economic disruption, some FIRE adherents may have to delay or restructure their retirements.
Then there is delayed retirement where a substantial percentage of older workers, by desire and design, or necessity, is working past the minimal Social Security retirement age of 62 well into their 70s and some past 80 years of age. We see that septuagenarians currently dominate our domestic political and governmental leadership: Joseph Biden, Donald Trump, Nancy Pelosi, Mitch McConnell, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Anthony Fauci among many others. According to the blog DQYDJ by PK (updated: November 14, 2019), “[r]ecently retired healthy individuals most commonly chose to work until 70.”
In my book, the Savvy Executive: The Handbook Covering Employment Contracts, Compensation, Executive Skills and Much More, my good friend, Craig, observed in the excerpted section below, AGE IS JUST A NUMBER:
…“People are living much longer nowadays. Look at our own
long-lived family members. Medical advances and nutrition
make the odds of our living to be at least 100 years very high. That
means, G. A., we have to rethink how we approach the arc of our lives
and what we do with it. Our lives have three chunks of active, productive
time or phases: zero to 30; 31 to 60, and 61 to 90. Our children can
have three separate, different experiences in their lives and you and I
have one more major one left. Isn’t that great? We have much more time
to do and experience different things, including work.”
As workers – whether younger FIRE types or older purpose driven careerists – grapple with their futures, my esteemed friend, Dr. Gregg Lunceford, has spent some time considering options surrounding work including kinds and degrees of exits. In his book, Exit from Work: What Will the New You Look Like?, he sets out exit options of “Going Back to College,” “Internships or Returnships,” “Peace Corps,” “Entrepreneurship,” and “Restructuring Work.” The current Era of the Coronavirus instructs us that work restructuring can and will occur. The current massive number of people who are working remotely from home proves the point. Would it not be prudent to contemplate how to shape and influence the restructuring of your work?
I had the honor of collaborating with Gregg on the RESTRUCTURING WORK section of his book excerpted below. It has utility for those who wish to continue to work for whatever reason or motivation:
Maybe you love what you currently do but want to do it differently. Renegotiating and restructuring your current role may be the change you want and need. It may also allow you to exit the workforce gradually if you can negotiate the terms you need. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 30% of U.S. workers age 60 and older plan to work to age 70 or older. The question is, “How do you negotiate terms that uniquely represent your needs and also provide an ongoing benefit to your employer?”
G. A. Finch is an attorney who focuses on negotiating executive employment agreements and providing strategic career advice. He is the author of the book The Savvy Executive. According to Mr. Finch, each situation is unique when negotiating terms for modifying your employment, and therefore, you should seek credible guidance before doing so. In general, here are a few things you should consider:
- Always view your relationship with your employer from the perspective of how it would benefit him or her. At the risk of stating the obvious, remember that your employment is an economic relationship, not a charitable one.
- Suggest to your employer that the newly configured role could be on a trial basis. This may minimize the risk to the employer and make your proposal of a modified role more palatable.
- Get imaginative about the mechanics and scope of the proposed arrangement, e.g., be willing to do part-time work or telecommute. These have a more limited or expanded scope of work. You can be available on an as-needed consulting basis, or serve as a pinch hitter for emergencies.
- Offer additional, different or new services to the employer such as mentoring, blogging, doing business development, recruiting talent, doing neglected research, training employees, or leading a new business initiative.
- Suggest trading or adjusting your salary for performance-based equity or cash bonus awards, more time off, time for charitable service, time for a personal entrepreneurial endeavor, tuition reimbursement, private club dues, –your suggestions are limited only by your imagination.
The surprising upshot here is that you may end up enjoying an extended tenure at your present employer.
During this Era of the Coronavirus with its shelter-in-place restrictions, many of us have more time to think. Whatever our ages and circumstances, our cogitating about the nature of our work and making meaningful adjustments cannot help but be a profitable investment of our time.
Copyright © 2020 by G. A. Finch. All rights reserved.