It’s an undeniable fact that when we show up for work, we bring our personalities with us. It is also true that as we age our personalities change. We feel it coming, and science tells us it is.
Our personalities don’t just change. There seems to be a specific age at which we become our “truest selves” – when our personalities are most stable. According to recent research, this occurs around the age of 50. Researchers thought it was in his thirties. But that’s not the case, according to this latest research.
As we approach the ripe old age of 50, we have an increasingly clear sense of who we are and what matters to us. As a result, we gradually choose only those environments and social roles that match and reinforce who we believe we are. Considering all of our career paths, our 50-year-old work environments are probably the closest reflection of ourselves.
What does this mean for you as a business leader? This means you can harness the power of your employees’ changing personalities to create a work environment that is not only more suited to their psychological priorities at any given time, but also (therefore) beneficial to your bottom line.
Here’s how to do it, backed by science.
Find your ambassadors
Because they have self-selected optimally into their ideal work environments for longer than most of your other employees, employees in their late 40s and early 50s will perform more stably.
This means they know who they are, have built stable internal and external networks, and are knowledgeable about what your business is all about. They are your greatest ambassadors and are in the best position to represent and communicate your company’s philosophy.
Celebrate their knowledge and life experience in a meaningful way. Offer them incentives that show you actively value the potential and mentorship they can offer the rest of your team. Feeling appreciated will increase their motivation, initiative and loyalty.
Listen to newcomers
According to the principle of niche-picking, we favor and strategically select the aspects of our environments that are advantageous to us.
Applying this to the workplace, junior employees (the Gen Zers entering the workforce) will seek out environments, tasks, and promotions that best match their most natural skills. In this way, they select for future stability in their roles – and in their personalities.
Pay attention to the type of opportunities they are looking for. This will provide insight into the type of employee they will become and allow you, as an employer, to organize an optimal employee experience.
The result is increased employee retention, as they will become more motivated to finish what they started. It’s also a surefire way to lock in future ambassadors and predict the future trajectory of your talent pool.
Get ready for what’s next
What happens after 50? Not surprisingly, research shows that there is a decline in personality stability after this age. Our physical and cognitive health may change, we may have fewer people to support financially, and we naturally begin to shift our priorities to align with our post-retirement goals.
This instability sometimes translates into retirement anxiety and a loss of identity, which affects productivity at work. You can help your employees regain confidence by teaching them new skills relevant to their new priorities.
This means hosting after-work financial planning workshops, providing community volunteer opportunities, and showcasing their experience by setting up mentorship programs that go beyond the expiration date of the employment contract.
You will observe rekindled enthusiasm for work, a renewed sense of purpose, and long-term loyalty to your company.