Benefits and Compensation, HR Management & Compliance

Are Midcareer Crises Hitting Your Midlife Employees?

We’ve all heard of the midlife crisis, during which middle-aged adults struggle with their mortality, identity, and self-confidence. It should be no surprise—considering how much time most of us spend focused on our careers—that many individuals struggle with a midcareer crisis, as well.

What Is It?

In an article for Harvard Business Review, Serenity Gibbons tells us that the midcareer crisis is “a real phenomenon for many workers; research has shown that career satisfaction bottoms out when people are in the middle of their careers. For many managers, the problem is seeing those employees through to the other side.”

What Can You Do to Help?

Gibbons suggests several strategies to address midcareer crises.

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Offer Lateral Opportunities

In a promotion-oriented business world, we see career moves primarily in terms of moving up. But not all employees crave more responsibility or management duties, even though they would appreciate a change. Lateral moves can be a great way to accommodate a need for change without an unwarranted or unwanted promotion.

Helping Employees Manage Their Missions

Many employees reach the middle years of their careers and wonder what they have accomplished in their lives. This isn’t a purely professional question. Many wonder what they have contributed to society. Teaming up with charities and giving midcareer professionals key roles in such partnerships is a great way to help provide a broader sense of purpose.

Providing Mentorship Roles

One way to help employees feel a sense of value and self-worth is to put them in mentorship roles to help guide the growth and development of younger or more junior-level employees. Keep in mind, though, that younger employees may also serve as mentors for their older colleagues—benefits can flow both ways.

Offer Opportunities for Physical Moves

Sometimes a change of scenery—even if it doesn’t significantly change roles or responsibilities—can be enough to shake an employee out of the doldrums. Consider offering opportunities for employees to relocate to other branches or to work remotely.
As Gibbons’ article points out, so much attention is focused on the beginning and end of employees’ careers that midcareer issues and opportunities may be overlooked. It can be hard for midcareer employees to find a sense of identity, self-worth, and value as they get lost in the mix between these two ends of the spectrum. And yet, these employees often act as the workhorses of an organization, meaning their overall well-being is essential. Are you doing enough to engage your midcareer staff members?