In the gig economy middle age rocks

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30/01/2017

Be proud of your paunch

David Bainbridge is a vet with a particular interest in evolutionary zoology – and in his book ‘Middle Age – A Natural History’ he explores middle age with fresh eyes. By looking across the latest research from the fields of anthropology, neuroscience, psychology, and reproductive biology, it seems that from an evolutionary point of view, reaching middle age and the people we become at this stage of life makes us surprisingly, reassuringly and encouragingly important for the survival of the family unit, society and the world at large! I love his book. I can look at my slightly failing eyesight and propensity for new waistband button-holes with much kinder eyes. Apparently middle-aged midriffs are good things, because a few thousand years ago if you were ‘old’ and had to run from a predator you could probably manage it with a bit of extra weight around your middle, but you’d be out of puff and in a heap if you were trying to run with legs or arms that were too heavy for propulsion. And then you’d be dead. Eaten. Whatever. So having the paunch gene and passing it on helps ensure the survival and continued evolution of the human race.

Age costs

Running from predators thousands of years ago is one thing, but in our modern Western world there is a much more insidious, dangerous and prevalent enemy of middle age. The cult of youth. This plays itself out to devastating effect in the media as we know. Images of youth and beauty and the pressure on our children to conform to ideals of how to look outweigh a million and one other amazing human attributes and characteristics that make us uniquely human. But there’s a different play in the workplace arena when it comes to age. Here’s the rub for businesses. With age comes experience. Experienced employees who know what they’re doing are great at managing the business. Experience is naturally gained over a growing period of time. With extended time and employee progression in traditional structures, comes additional cost in terms of pay and benefits. That’s just how it is. As employees are a significant slug of the cost base, every organisation has looked at ways of reducing its wage bill. Injection of fresh talent is key and recruiting younger (cheaper) employees is a natural part of the lifecycle of a business. But a bit like human evolution, businesses need to learn and evolve too to ensure the strongest survival genes are kept in the DNA. The experienced employees are the grandparents, the extended family members who can pass on their wisdom and help the younger generations come through their life cycles and thus ensure the continued success of the firm. But over the last 20 years many ‘elders’ have left the business. Either culled by severe cost transformation policies or disenchanted with the cult of youth and being overlooked for further advancement in favour of a younger (cheaper, less experienced, less wise) model.

Value in fractions

Before the Middles Ages we had the Dark Ages, and after the Middle Ages we had the Renaissance. At gigCMO we like to think the middle aged worker is having a renaissance thanks to the gig economy. We’ve taken our collective mid-life paunches out of the traditional employment model and put them to work in the gig world. Because in the gig world with fractional ways of working, the experience, know-how, wisdom, capability and reliability of the middle aged employee is precisely where the value lies. As someone employing the services of a gigCMO, you get the value of that person’s entire business life experience, but served to you on a gig by gig basis. All that value at a fraction of the cost.

So, mid-life isn’t a crisis, it’s a cause for celebration – at last. Celebrate your mid-life. Do a gig!