Smash the stigma of mental illness in our business and workplaces.

Let’s end the stigma about mental ill-health in the business
until it is as normal to talk about mental ill-health in the business world as it is to disclose a broken leg.

Just the other day, I had the pleasure to Chair a conference around the topic of the Future of Work. The conference organised by Chris Cummings of sonic events, held in London with a fantastic lineup of speakers including Twitter, BT, PWC, IBM and for Citi Group.

The afternoon session started with a talk around Artificial Intelligence, a topic that I was also going to be talking about later on in the day.

The second-afternoon session completely shook me up. Mr Rob Stephenson, the founder of inside-out, talked about Mental Health, and openly spoke about his bi-polar life.

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Rob humbles me. He explained how he took on this challenge and turned it into an opportunity!  Rob has started a foundation for senior business leaders, to allow them to open up about their experience of mental ill-health.

From the website, inside-out.org, they write.

Each year, we publish a list of senior leaders from our workplaces who are open about their experience of mental ill-health. The list designed to celebrate each leader who has decided to open up around mental ill-health.   Playing their part in ending the stigma and helping others in their organisation speak out and seek help. We will grow the list each year, creating a ripple effect of more and more executives speaking out until it is as normal to talk about mental ill-health in the business world as it is to disclose a broken leg.

While Rob was talking, he mentions some of his daily checklist items of which one was about honesty. My stomach started to hurt, and I suddenly began to remember a deep dark place where I was some 15 years ago. I remembered my promise to myself that I must always be honest to myself.

I often inform people when I explain my professional journey about the fact that I once hit the wall and the doctors told me that I had only six months to live. I have described some of the reasons why and the changes I made after the recovery of my illness. I never explain the mental illness that took effect or horrible mental journey that I went through.

Rob Stephenson was talking about his everyday life with Bipolar. He said that today was about 6½ out of 10 and I felt so small in his shadow. As chairperson of the conference, I ask a couple of questions to the speaker after their talk. My body started to shake, my stomach was churning, and my eyes were filling up with water, both from remembering the worst times of my illness but also with Rob’s uplifting talk. It usually is effortless for me to talk and to facilitate these types of events, but this was emotional now, I grabbed his hand as if he had just become the world champion and thanked him for one of the best experiences in a conference I ever had!

I turned to the audience and explained that this was difficult for me. Having gone through some mental illness in the past and thinking it was over but really, I have been dishonest with myself, and that I am still trying to keep it in a box, buried deep in my soul, Rob has switched on the light and made me face this reality again. I did not think that I would be receiving therapy while at this conference.

However, this is not about me, as this is about a true hero and leader, Rob Stephenson, who has used this illness as an opportunity and instead of hiding mental illness like many do and have done in the past. He uses it as a catalyst to show to the world that many of us have some form of mental illness, making aware to the world that hundreds of senior business leaders have mental illness and understand these challenges, to smash the stigma of mental illness in our business and workplaces.

Thank you, Rob and your family for switching on the light!

When will Humans Retire?

The number of people on the planet who are 60 or older will more than double from 1 Billion in 2015 to 2 billion in 2050. With the implementation of Artificial Intelligence and robotics, when will humans retire?

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

The global population is getting older.

We are informed about the fact that we are all living longer, the global population is getting older and it happening now! The number of people on the planet who are 60 or older will more than double from 1 Billion in 2015 to 2 billion in 2050 — an increase from 11 per cent of the global population to 22 per cent for the over.

At the same time, the number of people below the age of 24 will have no significant growth. To put it into perspective that is almost 10,000 people reach the age of 65 every day in the USA.

SOURCE: UNITED NATION, “WORLD POPULATION DATA”

Retirement age is increasing.

As a consequence of the increase of the over 60’s, our governments have already started to raise the official retirement age. Countries have slowly been increasing the retirement age from 62/65 to 67 around 2023.

Governments are already contemplating to change the retirement age to 75 or even 80 by 2035.

I believe that government retirement strategies are unsustainable!

50+ Syndrome

Training opportunities, leadership programmes and talent management schemes are absolutely necessary for a modern workplace. The majority of these initiatives focuses on young employees, to develop young talent into management/leadership roles. These initiatives are in place to help the company to grow and develop.
An employee learns and develops new skills. The company builds loyalty and better company branding, which enables the attracting of new talent.

The challenge is that once an employee reaches the age of 50, what do modern companies offer? There usually are not a lot of development opportunities or re-skilling opportunities for the 50+. Thus this encourages our 50+ employees, especially our senior managers sit fast and hold onto their positions as long as they can.

For the majority of people aged 50+, (who are not headhunted), find it extremely difficult to find and secure a new job.
Primary reasons are the interviewee experiences out-ways the interviewer’s experience as well as their unconscious bias of older people.

Are business making the right decision about development opportunities for the 50+ workforce, if the retirement age will increase to 75 years old?

Now comes the biggest game changer

By 2023, 50 per cent of the tasks that we perform in a modern workplace will be executed by Artificial Intelligence and robotics. In a report from the world economic forum, by 2023, 70 million of today’s jobs will disappear, and at the same time, 130 million new job roles will appear, job roles that we may not even exist today. Fifty-four per cent of the workforce will need to be re-skilled.

Who will get re-skilled? The under 50’s? The under 25’s? Everybody?

It does not compute!

From a work perspective, Artificial Intelligence and robotics will focus on assembly, productivity, agriculture, finance, construction as well as learning more and more skills as they develop.

Humans will need to focus on human interaction (e.g. nursing, caring), complex problem solving and innovation. The way we work will change, we will probably only work a few days a week and a few hours a day.

If we are all working to the age of 75, will there be enough work for us all to do? Will we get paid the same amount of salary as we do today?

Our governments need taxes to be able to exist and to sustain the governmental services required by the population.

Will they be able to collect enough taxes without the introduction of taxation on Artificial Intelligence and robotics?

Will we ever retire?

To be able to retire, we need to be able to work and pay taxes and save money so that we can retire. Over the next ten years, the way we understand about retirement will need to change, as well as the way understands work. As Artificial Intelligence and robotics become more de facto, the impact on the way we work will be destructive.

By 2030, I believe the concept of retirement as we know it today will have disappeared!