Legacy Careers® are a powerful answer to tight labour market questions

Challenge Factory’s Blog

Legacy Careers® are a powerful answer to tight labour market questions

Challenge Factory’s Blog

What’s a Legacy Career®? Let’s go beyond the buzzword and dig into career considerations for the 50+ workforce, from both the employee and employer sides of the table.   


Have you ever wondered how we decide the ‘retirement age’? 

Every time we deliver a keynote, this question and its answer produce ‘aha’ moments for countless people in the room. The retirement age was set in the 1930s, when life expectancy was 62 years. Today, life expectancy reaches into our mid-80s. It’s only natural that we see more and more employees choosing to work past the traditional retirement age. What’s more, we know many employees are worried about finances and need to continue earning income for longer than they expected or would choose for themselves.

The result is that a new phase of people’s careers is emerging. Instead of moving from mid-career to retirement, people are now transitioning with purpose from work they did in their 30s and 40s into new work arrangements or positions that better align their talents, what they care about, their lifestyle and other needs, and the market.

Career timelines are changing

As with new graduates, stereotypes, age-based assumptions, and ageist language dominate how “older workers” are considered. Ageism in hiring practices is common, although we believe it to be unintentional in most cases. Simply put, none of us are conditioned to consider our 60s and 70s as some of our most productive years. But career timelines are changing and employers need to be aware that there are carrots (productivity gains, employee retention gains) and sticks (legal action, bad reputation) associated with outdated careers thinking.


Our interviews with employers and HR leaders have shown that sometimes they may feel awkward or find it difficult providing career support to employees who are older than them. Remember that an important part of this responsibility is to:

  1. listen and learn during career conversations,
  2. ensure employees remain engaged in their work, for both personal career satisfaction and for organizational success; and,
  3. foster a workplace in which they are valued and respected.

As a manager, you don’t need to have all the answers. But showing all your employees—regardless of age—that you are there for them can go a long way to giving them a sense of safety, connectivity, and purpose.


Take action

Consider how your organization is taking advantage of Legacy Career® talent. Check out author and activist Ashton Applewhite’s book, This Chair Rocks, and her blog “Yo, Is This Ageist?” She provides free resources and current examples of how ageism affects everyone, every day. For workplace-specific questions, Challenge Factory is a North American leader in helping organizations capitalize on shifting demographics. Reach out to us anytime.

Excerpted from Challenge Factory’s Retain & Gain series of career management playbooks.