January 15

On the Shortness of Life


January 15, 2023

On the shortness of life:

What business leaders can learn from the stoics as they prepare their companies for the demographic storm

The demographic fold, also known as the demographic  cliff, is a phenomenon that is occurring in many countries around the world, in which the number of older people is increasing rapidly while the number of younger people is decreasing. This is leading to a number of challenges for businesses, including a potential decline in the labour force, an increase in the cost of labour, healthcare and other benefits, and a decrease in the number of consumers.

A particularly informative way that companies can navigate this demographic shift is by adopting the principles of stoicism. Stoicism is a philosophical movement that was founded in ancient Greece and emphasizes the importance of living in accordance with reason and virtue, and of accepting whatever happens with equanimity. These principles can be applied to the business world in a number of ways:

stoicism teaches us to focus on what we can control and to let go of what we cannot control

First, stoicism teaches us to focus on what we can control and to let go of what we cannot control. This can be particularly useful when faced with the challenges of the demographic cliff, as it can help companies to identify the things that they can influence and to take action on them, rather than wasting time and energy on things that are beyond their control — like trying to find people that just aren’t there by paying more and more job platforms to “feature” their ad.

For example, a company that is facing a decline in the labour force due to an aging population may not be able to control the overall demographic trend, but it can control how it responds to this challenge. It might, for example, focus on attracting and retaining top talent by offering competitive benefits and opportunities for professional development, or it might invest in technology and automation to help it do more with fewer employees.

A key principle of stoicism is the importance of living in the present moment.

A key principle of stoicism is the importance of living in the present moment. This can be particularly relevant when it comes to the demographic fold, as companies may be tempted to focus too much on the future and to worry about how they will cope with the challenges that lie ahead. By staying present and focusing on the here and now, however, companies can avoid getting bogged down in uncertainty and can instead take action to address the issues they are facing.

For example, a company that is concerned about the rising popularity of early retirement in an aging workforce might focus on implementing wellness programs, mentorship frameworks and flexible work arrangements for company veterans can help retain older colleagues expertise and cut training cost in the present. This not only benefits the company financially, but also helps to create a positive and supportive work environment for employees of all ages.

Stoicism also emphasizes the importance of living a good and meaningful life, one that is guided by wisdom, virtue, and compassion. This can be particularly relevant to companies that are navigating the demographic cliff, as it can help them focus on creating value for all of their stakeholders, rather than just maximizing profits.

For example, a company that is committed to living up to the principles of stoicism might focus on decluttering processes to reduce their carbon footprint, or give challenged people a chance of becoming productive members of the company through mentorship programmes. It might involve investing in sustainability initiatives, supporting charitable causes, or engaging in other forms of corporate social responsibility.

In conclusion, the demographic cliff, or demographic fold, is a significant challenge that many companies are facing today. By adopting the principles of stoicism, however, companies can navigate this challenge more effectively, focusing on what they can control in the present moment, and striving to provide good and meaningful work. By doing so, they can not only weather the demographic storm, but also emerge stronger and more resilient on the other side.


Business, Efficiency, Management, Philosophy, Stoicism, Strategy, Well-Being

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