Article: Occupational Status: Is 40 the new 60?

Strategic HR

Occupational Status: Is 40 the new 60?

While MNCs follow certain norms when it comes to retirement, there is not much clarity in smaller organizations
Occupational Status: Is 40 the new 60?

When one retires, it means a radical change in lifestyle and social status. The routine, which one had been following for over decades, will come to a standstill. It becomes difficult for a person to break status quo and get over retirement blues. These days retirement leaves much more lasting effects than before. While retirement is a term very often used by people in late 50s in the workforce globally, in India people use it in their late 30s. This is particularly frightening considering that India and other emerging economies like Malaysia and Philippines will soon have the world’s youngest populations, while countries in North America and Europe will face the conundrum of the aging population. Are we seeing a trend of people burning out or is it to pave the way for the younger workforce?   

There is no fixed age for retirement. While many employers assist employees who have been working with them for a long time post their retirement, it is important for privately run organizations to agree on the date and timing of a person’s retirement. Multinational organizations follow certain norms, but what are the norms in a small Indian organization with a headcount of 500 or less? A cohort survey on people between the ages of 30 and 39 revealed that while many were willing to work beyond 40, the hurdles they faced at work were many. Here are some areas that companies need to consider as employees retire:

Experience and Repertoire: An individual’s time and repertoire built over the years cannot be replaced over a fortnight. His or her capabilities should not be wasted. Majority of the workforce are still ready to work beyond the age of 40 be it for whatever reasons. Many organizations indulge in phased retirement where newer folks replace the older generation. But is it really phased? There is always a gap and disparity at hiring a fresher at a high cost when the same can be paid to an experienced individual.

Innovation: Many believe that the ability to think and innovate is lost after one reaches the age of 40. But it seems fallacious to think that one’s grey matter ceases to work right after one hits 40. This trend of forced separation is usually seen in the IT industry.

Productivity: An individual in his 40s may not work for 12 hours compared to his younger counterpart, but his eight hours would leverage for the same quantum of work.

Exponential Salary: In India, education and salary are two of the most contradictory terms used in most corporate houses. There are so many situations where the manager would be an undergrad and the employee a PhD holder in the organization. The same is the case in terms of “Salary Compression”. Many HR enthusiasts could argue with the term of “Salary Normalization”, but how much of disparity is usually covered in the process. We should all think of a process of rewarding the exponential learning curve accordingly.


As Heraclitus quoted “Change is the only constant in life”. Retaining the older workforce is not always a bad idea, nor is recruiting a younger workforce. The key is to maintain a balance of both at work. An organization culture is complete only by having the right mix of people with respect to age, ethnicity, gender etc. After all, the bucket list cannot be completed at 40.

Disclaimer: This is a contributed post. The statements, opinions and data contained are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of People Matters and the editor(s).

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Topics: Strategic HR, #HRInsights

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