Thursday, December 22, 2005

AARP Study Debunks Myths, Shows 50+ Workers as a Solid Investment

The AARP has released a study prepared by Towers Perrin for AARP that challenges myths about workers 50 and older and shows that those employees often have productive advantages that make them far more cost-effective than is generally believed. According to the report--"The Business Case for Workers Age 50+: Planning for Tomorrow's Talent Needs in Today's Competitive Environment", there is a common business perception that 50+ workers "cost more" than younger workers, but that "the extra per-employee total compensation cost of retaining or attracting more 50+ workers ranges from negligible to three percent in key industries" and "older workers are more motivated to exceed expectations on the job than younger workers." Furthermore, in the case of hiring more older workers, "average age-based total compensation cost differences are negligible and hover around one percent per year for the four positions examined."

Source: News Release AARP (December 21, 2005)

Friday, December 16, 2005

Legislation Introduced To Foster Employment of Workers Forgoing Retirement

Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI) has introduced legislation aimed at expanding opportunities for older Americans and baby boomers to work longer if they so choose. The bill is designed to address problems faced by workers who decide to forgo retirement and businesses who seek to retain the experience of older workers and curb a major workforce drain as seventy-seven million people quickly approach retirement age. The legislation, the Older Worker Opportunity Act of 2005 (S. 1826), is co-sponsored by Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL) and would:
Establish a tax credit to employers who offer flexible or phased work to older workers and protect them from health insurance or pension loss; Extend COBRA health coverage for older workers who lose health coverage due to reduction in work hours; Provide a tax credit for the eldercare of a loved one; Improve access to employment and training services funded under the Workforce Investment Act; Create a Federal Task Force on Older Workers through the Department of Labor in order to examine additional barriers faced by older workers and develop ongoing solutions that are helpful to both businesses and older workers.
Source: News Release U.S. Senator Herb Kohl (October 8, 2005)

Monday, December 12, 2005

New Reports Offer Comprehensive Analyses of Demographics and Working Situations of Older Workers

Two new reports have been released by The Center on Aging and Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston College and Families and Work Institute based on data from the Families and Work Institute's National Study of the Changing Workforce. The reports were released to coincide with the White House Conference on Aging, which will make recommendations to Congress and the President about issues facing the aging workforce. The first report--"Context Matters: Insights about Older Workers from the National Study of the Changing Workforce"--found that older workers are more likely to continue working when they have more control over their work hours, workplace flexibility, job autonomy and learning opportunities. The second report--"The Diverse Employment Experiences of Older Men and Women in the Workforce"--found that female workers over the age of 50 are at a distinct disadvantage to older male workers in that they earn substantially less than men.

Source: News Release The Center on Aging and Work/Workplace Flexibility (December 12, 2005)

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Putnam Study Shows Many Retirees Reentering Workforce

Putnam Investments has released the results of a survey--“The Working Retired: Well Educated, High Income, but They Don’t Own Their Homes"--that shows that about 7 million previously retired Americans have returned to work for pay after an average sabbatical of one-and-a-half years. Most are in a job requiring at least the same skill and experience levels as their prior position. Putnam’s research was based on a national survey of 1,726 retirees who are working; they have an average age of 61. Of the respondents, most (54%) retirees work part time, 36% work full time, and the remaining 10% are looking for work; in addition, two-thirds said they planned to return to work following their first retirement.

Source: Press Release Putnam Investments (December 8, 2005)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Employers Opting to Maintain Retiree Drug Coverage for 2006

Most businesses (79%) that now provide retiree health benefits will accept government subsidies for continuing to provide retiree drug coverage at least as good as Medicare’s coverage when the new drug benefit starts in 2006, according to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Hewitt Associates. According to the report--Prospects for Retiree Health Benefits as Medicare Drug Coverage Begins: Findings from the Kaiser/Hewitt 2005 Survey on Retiree Health Benefits, another 10% say that they will provide some drug coverage to supplement the new Medicare benefit, and 9% say that they plan to stop offering drug coverage to Medicare-eligible retirees.
“For many reasons, taking the retiree drug subsidy is the strategy of choice for large companies in 2006, but they will continue to reassess their strategies moving forward as more experience develops with Medicare drug plans,” said Frank McArdle, manager of Hewitt’s Washington, D.C., research office. “Unfortunately, retiree health cost pressures remain intense.”
In addition to providing more detail about employer policies affecting prescription drug coverage, the study shows that surveyed firms report an average increase of 10 percent in total retiree health costs between 2004 and 2005, including both Medicare-eligible retirees and early retirees (under age 65) who do not qualify for Medicare benefits. About one in eight surveyed firms (12%) say that they had stopped offering subsidized retiree health benefits in 2005 for future retirees, mainly newly hired workers.

Source: News Release Kaiser Family Foundation (December 7, 2005)

Thursday, December 01, 2005

United Kingdon: Pensions Commission Recommends Raising Retirement Age and Other Reforms

The United Kingdon Pensions Commission has issued its report A New Pensions Settlement for the 21st Century with recommendations to increase the retirement age gradually to age 68 and to implement an integrated set of policies that can ensure that increasing life expectancy becomes not a problem but an opportunity for everyone. Key proposals from the Pensions Commission’s report include:
  • The establishment of a National Pensions Saving Scheme into which all employees without good existing provision would be automatically enrolled but with the right to opt out.
  • Reforms to the state system to ensure a sound foundation on which pension saving can build.
  • Measures to improve the position of people with interrupted work records and caring responsibilities, who are disadvantaged by the existing contributory system.
  • Measures to facilitate later working and flexible retirement for those who want it.
Other resources available online include the text and slides of Lord Adair Turner's presentation.

Source: Press Release The UK Pensions Commission November 30, 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

AARP Expands Featured Employers Program

The AARP has expanded its "Featured Employers" program by collaborating with 11 additional major companies to help Americans aged 50 and over remain in the workforce as desired. In announcing the expansion, AARP CEO Bill Novelli said that "[a]s more and more workers reach traditional retirement age, there are not enough new workers to replace them. We are working with forward-thinking companies who value older workers to offset labor and knowledge gaps. This is a winning strategy for American business, for the older workers themselves and for our national economy."

Source: News Release AARP November 17, 2005

Age Discrimination Visible, but U.S. Businesses Urge Older Workers to Stay on the Job

According to a Hudson survey conducted by Rasmussen Reports, LLC, while 23% of the U.S. workforce knows of an older worker who has been denied a job, promotion, or raise because of age, more than twice as many businesses encourage older workers to stay on the job than to retire early; in fact, 38% of workers say their organizations keep older workers because they are difficult to replace, compared to 15 percent whose firms want to make way for younger workers.

Source: News Release The Hudson Employment Index November 16, 2005

Australia: Industry Not Stepping Up To Challenge of Aging Baby Boomers

A report from ABC Melbourne says that, at a recent seminar sponsored by Monash University’s Australian Centre for Research in Employment and Work, participants were told that, "despite the Federal Government pushing for greater participation of older workers in the labour market, industry is failing to develop proactive approaches for keeping Australia’s baby boomers in the workforce." Dr Glennis Hanley, from Monash University’s Department of Management, said that "[b]usinesses need to employ the broad-based business experiences of baby boomers to foster and transfer cross-generational knowledge as a means of integrating the diverse abilities of today’s heterogeneous workplace." According to Dr Tui McKeown, also from the Department of Management, by 2020 that 50 per cent of the current workforce will have retired and "[n]o action is currently being taken to recognise the skills of older workers." Drs. Hanley and McKeown are conducting research on Will You Still Need Me, Will You Still Feed Me, When I'm 64?.

Source: ABC Melbourne November, 28, 2005

Monday, September 26, 2005

Companies with Legacy Systems May Be Missing Out of Knowledge of Aging Workers

Ben Lieberman, principal architect for BioLogic Software Consulting, has published an article suggesting that many enterprises still execute critical business operations through older software systems that run on large, mainframe computers rather than individual PCs. Wrting about legacy systems for IBM's developerWorks, he argues that while these conmpanies continually update, extend, and integrate their systems, paradoxically many of them "also have policies that threaten the single greatest source of knowledge about their older systems: their most senior personnel. Although the aging workforce represents a vast pool of talent and experience, these businesses neither actively recruit senior workers nor provide incentives to retain those on staff. Instead, they mistakenly assume that they can hire younger, lower-paid people to perform the same tasks."
Clearly, senior personnel with intimate knowledge of the systems slated for replacement should play a pivotal role in the project. An organization that does not recognize the unique value of these individuals for new system development as well as legacy system maintenance may find that it has wasted a few million dollars on a new system that is not as effective as the old one. By actively working to retain these senior team members, organizations can dramatically reduce the costs associated with legacy system maintenance as well as the risks associated with system integration and replacement. Providing incentives in the form of personal growth strategies, such as training in the use of automated tools, involvement with new company projects, and other continuous learning opportunities, will help entice older personnel to remain within the company, share critical system information, and make invaluable contributions to system modernization projects.
Also, see interesting SlashDot conversation about this article.

Source: "Keeping the lights on: Legacy systems and the maturing workforce" IBM (September 15, 2005)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Aging Workforce Boosts Demand for Business Trainers

Cindy Mays of the Dallas Morning News writes that as a result of the increasing the aging workforce, as well as the increasing complexity of many jobs and an improved economy and corporate profits, "employers will devote greater resources to job-specific training programs, creating a strong demand for training and development specialists across all industries."

Source: "Business trainers back in demand" SouthEastCoast.com 9/20/2005

PA Governor Rendell Calls for Champions of Older Workers

Governor Edward G. Rendell announced that Pennsylvania is looking to honor and recognize those who champion older workers. As part of National Employ Older Workers Week, nominations are being accepted for the 21st annual Hall of Fame of Champions of Older Workers, which was was created to identify and recognize Pennsylvania employers who have made noteworthy efforts to hire older workers and to increase employment opportunities for those aged 55 and older. Employers who have actively recruited older workers, developed opportunities and training, provided flexible schedules, promoted older workers from within or generally made accommodations for a mature workforce are being sought statewide. The winners will be formally honored during the Pennsylvania Employer Awards luncheon at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in May 2006. All nominations must be received on or before Nov. 18. Nomination forms are available on the web.

Source: News Release Office of Governor, Pennsylvania 9/20/2005

America's Aging Workforce Posing New Opportunities and Challenges for Companies to Utilize Mature Employees

According to a new report issued by The Conference Board, "the rapidly aging global workforce-–caused mainly by the number of retirement-eligible employees continuing to work-–is both a challenge and major opportunity for corporations." In the report ("Managing the Mature Workforce," Lorrie Foster, Director of Research Working Groups at The Conference Board and co-author of the report with management consultant Lynne Morton and noted author Jeri Sedlar, Senior Advisor to The Conference Board on mature workforce issues, argue that "skills and knowledge mature workers possess can be utilized to great advantage by a company that knows itself well and can identify its weak areas that can be bolstered by the right mature workers." In particular, the report recommends
a series of strategic ideas and actions to foster effective management of any “retirement risk” to the business posed by a potential exit wave of mature workers. Among them:
  • Identify potential gaps and knowledge transfer needs
  • Broaden succession planning thinking
  • Check communications mechanisms and messages for intergenerational approach
  • Review training history
  • Capitalize on affinity groups
  • Become an “employer of choice” for all generations
  • Encourage better financial planning among employees
  • Build a retiree network
  • Offer benefits of interest to mature workers such as long-term care insurance, pre-retirement planning, health and wellness programs, comprehensive medical coverage, including prescription drugs, health coverage for retirees and part-time workers, prorated benefits for employees on flexible work schedules
Source: News Release The Conference Board (September 19, 2005)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

BC center lands $3M to study aging workforce

The newly established Boston College Center on Aging & Work has received a $3-million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to study how the American workplace will evolve to accommodate its aging workforce. That question and others related to the impending challenge facing the U.S. as a large segment of its workers approaches the "traditional" age of retirement will be part of the three-year research-centered grant. "One thing that can affect older workers’ decisions about work that is often over-looked is the availability, or lack of availability, of flexible work options," said Boston College Center on Aging & Work Co-Director Michael A. Smyer. "Our work will focus on the study of working flexibility because it is a particularly important element of innovative employer responses to the aging workforce."

Source: News Release Boston College 9/6/2005

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Canada: Mining Industry Faces Serious Worker Shortage from Comng Retirements

According to "Prospecting the Future: Meeting Human Resources Challenges in Canada’s Minerals and Metals Sector", the Canadian mining industry will need up to 81,000 new people to meet current and future needs and to fill positions vacated by retirees. The research was conducted by Mining Industry Training and Adjustment Council – Canada (MITAC), and its key findings suggest "the industry could lose up to 40 per cent of the existing workforce in the next ten years. More than half of its current workforce is eligible to retire in the next five to ten years taking with them an average of 21 years of mining sector experience each. The largest percentage of workers planning to retire within the next ten years is in the skilled trades group."

Source: News Release Mining Industry Training and Adjustment Council - Canada (August 23, 2005)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Employers Encouraged To Include Age of Workers in Diversity Thinking

Based on an executive strategy briefing entitled, "Maximizing Human Capital Assets Through Generational Competence," Ceridian is encouraging employers to evaluate their organization's level of "generational competence" to determine how well they have adapted to meet the different needs of the four generations of workers now employed in today's U.S. workforce. "While today's workplace has made great progress in recognizing and embracing differences, until now age has rarely been part of the diversity agenda. A company's generational competence will become a major factor to help organizations achieve the full contribution of their most talented employees," according to the sutdy's lead author, Diane Piktialis, Ph.D., director of work-life services for Ceridian.
“An organization’s viability depends on its ability to hire, retain—and gain the full contribution of—the most talented employees across the generations,” said Piktialis. By instituting human capital management processes, designing benefits and employee effectiveness services, and tailoring talent management to address the needs and earn the engagement of employees of different generations, an organization is taking steps toward generational competence.”

To ultimately seize the opportunities of a multigenerational workforce and achieve generational competence, Ceridian encourages employers to understand and build awareness of generational differences; study how different generations interact, use products and access services within the enterprise; leverage generational understanding to identify market opportunities and to improve marketing, product development, customer service and management practices; and design projects to provide opportunities for cross-generational collaboration.
Source: News Release Ceridian (August 1, 2005)

MetLife Study on Retirement Income of Silent Generation

According to the MetLife Retirement Income Decisions Study: The Silent Generation Speaks, 83% "Silent Generation"--Americans between the ages of 59 and 71--pre-retirees and 90% of retirees are confident that they have enough money to live comfortably until at least age 85. However, many are not as informed as they should about their longevity risk and have not taken steps to ensure that they will have enough money to last throughout their lifetime--34% of pre-retirees have not calculated how much monthly income they will need in retirement, and 45% of pre-retirees and 47% of retirees have not estimated the annual rate of inflation over the next ten years. [This study focused only on popele with non-housing assets of a least $100,000 who identified themselves as a primary or joint financial decision-maker for their household.]

Source: News Release MetLife (June 21, 2005)

Monday, August 01, 2005

Hewitt Study Shows Nearly Half of U.S. Workers Cash Out of 401(k) Plans When Leaving Jobs

Despite the growing need for employees to save for retirement, a significant number of workers participating in 401(k) plans "cash out" of them once they leave their company, according to new research by Hewitt Associates. Hewitt's study of nearly 200,000 workers who participate in their 401(k) plans found that 45% elected to take a cash distribution once they left their jobs. The remainder either kept their savings in their current employer's 401(k) plan (32%) or rolled the money over to a qualified IRA or other retirement plan (23%). While employees who were older and more tenured were more likely to preserve their retirement wealth, more than 42% of workers age 40-49 also elected to cash out of their 401(k) plans upon leaving their jobs.

Source: Press Release Hewitt Associates (July 25, 2005)

Japan: Population Decline Requires Rethinking Employment of Elderly

According to an article by Kenichi Aoyama/Kentaro Nakajima, Japan's Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry's latest population survey is another reminder of the need to address an anticipated decline in the workforce as Japan is expected to experience a population decline of about 10 million people (to about 117.58 million by 2030). "To make sure Japan remains an economic power, it is imperative to step up efforts to improve labour productivity while also reforming this country's various systems, including the social security system."

Among other things, the ministry panel studying employment policies proposed aiding older people--those in their late 60s, for instance--in their efforts to find jobs. The article also notes that many experts have called for reforming this country's various systems to a1ccommodate a reduction in the population, including the education and pension systems, and quotes Hisakazu
Kato, an assistant professor of demographic economics at Meiji University, calling for Japan to "think about the importance of training personnel again, for instance by retraining the elderly and improving education programs for the young."

Source: "Population Report Shows Need For Action" e-Sinchew.com (July 29, 2005)

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Ontario Unveils Plan To Help Retain Older Nurses

The McGuinty government in Ontario is creating a program to help keep experienced nurses on the job longer. Specifically, it is planning to use $25 million to support late-career nurses working in hospitals by giving nurses over the age of 55 the opportunity to stay on in their profession in less physically demanding roles, such as working as mentors, patient and family educators or staff advisors on clinical issues.

Source: News Release Office of the Premier of Ontario (July 25, 2005)

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Canada: Older Workers With High Job Stress More Likely To Retire Earlier

According to an article by Yosie Saint-Cyr in HRinfodesk, a recent study--"Job strain and retirement" by Martin Turcotte and Grant Schellenberg, published in the July 2005 Issue of Perspectives on Labour and Income by Statistics Canada indicates that job strain, caused by a combination of a heavy workload, time constraints, conflicting demands and lack of control, may be an overlooked factor in an employee’s decision to retire. Several other studies have already documented this negative relationship. "This study found that many workers who felt stressed and dissatisfied with their job felt they could not retire soon enough, while others delayed retirement for the simple reason that they enjoyed their work (because they were able to balance demands with the power to make decisions)." The National Population Health Survey examined whether older workers (aged 45 to 57 in 1994) who experience high job strain will be more likely to retire than those who do not feel the same pressure at work. The study found that, between 1996 and 2002, older workers in managerial, professional or technical jobs with high job strain were much more likely to retire early than those with low job strain. However, for sales, services, clerical and blue-collar occupations, job strain was not related to retirement.

Source: "Link Between Job Strain and Retirement" HRinfodesk
(July 2005)

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Workforce Needs Education About Aging and Disability

Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), issued a statement following her participation in the Disability and Aging Mini-Conference of the 2005 White House Conference on Aging, that "a majority of workers underestimate the risk of becoming disabled and believe they are covered by disability insurance. In reality, only a third of workers are covered and workers compensation provides inadequate protection for individuals suffering from 90 percent of disabilities.”

Source: News Release America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) (July 21, 2005)

Friday, July 08, 2005

Creating a Market for Senior Experts

Reporting in the International Herald Tribune, Thomas Fuller writes about Sebastian Vallbracht, who founded VMVO Senior Expert Consultancy and is in the business of scouring Europe for candidates for scientific and financial consulting jobs--with the proviso that these peopel be at least in their 40s, preferably in their 50s or 60s. The average age of the 90 experts he has engaged is about 55--and this, "[o]n a continent where early retirement has long been regarded as a way to free up jobs for younger generations." Fuller also writes about Michel Delannoy, the founder of a federation of organizations in France that seek to promote senior employment, who he quotes as saying that when older workers leave the labor market prematurely, it is a "loss in terms of productivity for the nation."

Source: The Workplace: When gray is better than green International Herald Tribune (July 6, 2005)

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Aging U.S. Workforce Creates Challenges to Corporate Health and Productivity

New research conducted by UnumProvident Corporation, a provider of group and individual disability income, focuses on the aging American workforce, particularly on the potential health and productivity predicaments that demand a response from employers, medical providers and the workers themselves. According to the findings reported in "Health & Productivity in the Aging American Work Force: Realities and Opportunities,"
  • Although workers age 40 and older experience a lower incidence of work injuries, short term disability and unscheduled absences than younger workers, the average amount of time they will miss due to an injury or illness is greater by nearly a third.
  • Workers older than age 40 account for 50 percent of all short-term disability claims and up to 75 percent of long-term disability claims.
  • Primary reasons for long term work disruptions for this age group include impairments of the musculoskeletal and circulatory systems as well as mental and cancer disorders.
  • The additional presence of risk factors such as smoking, lack of exercise and obesity can result in healthcare costs for this population that are nearly 300 percent higher than the younger workforce.
The report notes that companies that develop programs to support and promote preventive health care among their baby boomer employees will encourage behavior that can counter these trends. By putting programs in place that provide incentives for workers to have healthier lifestyles, lost time and health care costs can be reduced. It provides a case study from Coors Brewing Company to model such corporate response.

Source: News Release UnumProvident (July 7, 2005)

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Commentary: The Sun Sets On the Golden Years

Writing in The Nation, William Greider writes that many millions of baby boomers are realizizing as they approach retirement age that they can't afford to retire at all, much less retire early. Focusing on savings need to ensure a solid retirement, Greider says that "[t]he fundamental truth (well understood among experts) is that individualized accounts can never match the investment returns of a large common fund, broadly diversified and soundly managed, because the pension fund is able to average its results over a very long time span, thirty years or more." Suggesting that a "mandatory savings" solution might be required, he writes:
While most politicians don't dare embrace a "mandatory" solution--not yet, anyway--it is not self-evident that ordinary Americans would reject one, if properly educated about the alternatives. Most people are conflicted. They know they need to save more--retirement is a very meaningful investment for them--but it's very hard to accomplish, given the competing pressures. They like the concept of personal accounts but are also aware of their vulnerability as amateur investors.
For discussion of this article, see comments posted on AlterNet.

Source: " Riding Into the Sunset" The Nation (June 27, 2005)

Indiana Researcher Discusses Aging Workers

Barry Spiker, senior fellow with
University of Indianapolis Center for Aging & Community, is interviewed about his work studying how older workers are perceived in the workplace and what it means for local and national economies. He surveys Indiana as a whole, as well as specific industries that soon will be affected by baby boomer retirements. Spiker's recommendations for capturing the intellectual and emotional capital of the work force:
  • If you know someone is going to retire in six months, make sure he has phased retirement that he comes back in two or three days a week.
  • Morbidity increases when people leave the workplace. It's better for the health care industry by keeping people working. Get someone to mentor a junior worker to pass on knowledge, but also his networks -- which he knows.
  • The emotional capital is a great way for younger workers to learn from older workers. It's being steady and calm. It's maturity and that's not something that can be taught, but learned by watching.
  • You take someone who is retiring and say, "We'll give you a bounty for all your knowledge."
Source: "Research helps reshape work force" Indianapolis Star online (June 27, 2005)

Taking Care of Parents Causes South Florida Employers To Lose Money and Productivity

According to A Good Daughter, Inc., which developed and markets a Corporate Elder Care program, 17% of caregivers quit their jobs to provide care for aging family members, and another 15% reduce their work hours to assist their loved ones. All told, loss of productivity resulting from time off to care for an aging relative is estimated to cost South Florida employers $6100 per employee per year. According to Olga Brunner, President, "Our Corporate Elder Care program was developed to help employees balance job responsibilities and caregiving. Our Professional Care Managers plan and organize care and services for the employees of Broward and Palm Beach elderly population, affording families a peace of mind that their loved ones will find and secure services such as ongoing supervision of certified home care assistants, home maintenance and care, medication supervision, coordination of medical appointments and representation at these appointments, legal counsel, specialized air travel escorts, and many other services."

Source: News Release A Good Daughter, Inc. (June 20, 2005)

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Business community makes recommendations for White Conference on Aging

At the "Voice of Business on the Mature Workforce"--a run-up miniconference for this year's White House Conference on the Aging--sponsored by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, SHRM, and AARP, among others, business representatives voted to present four recommendations to be presented at the December conference to redesign public policies to accommodate a maturing workforce and retirees. As reported by UPI, speakers at the forum discussed the challenges facing the United States as older workers become the fastest-growing segment of the workforce. The four recommendations that will be sent to the White House are:
  • allowing greater flexibility in retirement plan design and management;
  • removing unnecessary rules and regulations in the private pension system;
  • developing phased retirement programs, and
  • creating a bipartisan commission to address the issue of mature workers.
Source: "Chamber of Commerce weighs in on retirement" Monsters and Critics.com (June 17, 2005)

Friday, June 17, 2005

HR can help businesses plan for maturing workforce

Speaking at “Voice of Business on the Mature Workforce,” a forum which was aimed at adding the business community’s perspective to the White House Conference on Aging, Susan R. Meisinger, SPHR, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), one of the sponsors of the forum, told her audience that HR professionals can take steps to help their organizations plan strategically for the maturing workforce and its economic impact by:
  • Conducting studies to determine the projected demographic makeup of their organization’s workforce and projected retirement rates. People are concerned about doing anything that could be construed as discriminatory, she said, but “it’s OK to look at an employee’s age for workforce planning.”
  • Developing succession plans and replacement charts. “The pool to draw from is smaller. … How are you mentoring?” she asked.
  • Developing processes to capture institutional knowledge. It can be difficult to focus years ahead when an organization’s immediate concern is how it is doing now, she acknowledged. Developing methods to capture institutional knowledge is probably the best tool HR can use to galvanize people and make executive managers aware of the need to plan for the organization’s future, she said.
  • Creating or redesigning positions that allow near-retirees to ease into retirement. This requires stepping back and looking beyond job titles and duties and focusing on what needs to be accomplished.
HR professionals also may develop and shape workforce training and development programs.

Source: "Meisinger: HR can help stem boomer brain drain" SHRM Online (June 16, 2005)

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Leave Sharing as Benefit for Older Public Workers

According to an article by Kathleen Murphy for Stateline, leave-sharing "is a job benefit states are offering more often than the private sector with an eye toward retaining an aging state workforce"--"especially the 44% of state employees age 45 and older who otherwise might look toward retirement." Eighteen states currently have have collective leave banks, while 22 states allow direct donation of leave to individual employees, including 2 states that offer both. It can be a win-win situation for states and their employees: "When catastrophic illness strikes, leave-sharing helps older and ailing employees keep their jobs and helps prevent them from spending down their savings to qualify for Medicaid, the pricey state-run program that gives medical benefits to indigent and low-income people."

Source: Leave-sharing helps retain state workers" Stateline.org (June 11, 2005)

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Majority of Workers Expect (and Want) To Work Longer

Following up on research conducted by AgeWave finding that 80% of workers surveyed in 10 countries "believe mandatory retirement should be abolished and a majority expect to continue working after they have "retired" from their prime-time careers," Janet Kidd Stewart writes that it appears a majority of workers now expect--even want--to work later into their old age:
{T]here is some anecdotal evidence that at least some older workers are already staying on the payroll longer. One of the most pressing problems for the Service Corps of Retired Workers, a service that uses volunteer retirees to help train entrepreneurs, is finding experienced volunteers who have left the workforce, said Jim Pyles, the group's chairman.
However, she also notes that aging "doesn't always work out the way we want." For example, "we may think we want to continue working, but a health issue of our own or of a spouse can quickly curtail those expectations. Or a corporate downsizing or merger may thrust us out into the workforce at an age when we are overlooked by potential employers."

Source: "Later, later, many now say to early retirement" Chicago Tribune (June 5, 2008)

Canada: Ontario Introduces Legislation To End Mandatory Retirement

Ontario Labour Minister Chris Bentley announced that the McGuinty government was introducing legislation that would end mandatory retirement and provide greater fairness and choice for workers aged 65 and older. The legislation proposes to amend the Ontario Human Rights Code, which currently does not protect people aged 65 and over from age discrimination for employment purposes, to only permit mandatory retirement where it can be justified on "bona fide occupational requirement" grounds determined under the Code (that is, where there is a requirement or qualification necessary for the performance of essential job duties).

Source: News Release Canada NewsWire Group (June 7, 2005)

United Kingdom: Acas launches guide to recruiting older workers

Acas, the government-funded Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service, has launched a new advisory leaflet to help employers make the most of older workers. It looks at some of the stereotypes about older workers and gives practical advice on what to consider when recruiting, planning for the future and managing older employees. According to Acas Chief Executive John Taylor, "The working population is getting older and employers may face skills shortages when existing workers retire if they fail to ensure they don't discriminate against older workers when recruiting." Furthermore, "[o]ur advice is easy to understand and practical. We aim to be the first port of call for employers who need advice on these sorts of issues. This booklet gives employers useful and straightforward information on what they need to consider to help them recruit and retain older workers." The booklet, Employing Older Workers, is available online.

Source: News Release Acas (June 6, 2005)

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Consultant poll shows weak employer support for phased-in retirement

Morneau Sobeco, a human resources consulting company, reports that a "60 Second Survey" conducted in May indicates that employers are less than enthusiastic about the concept of phased-in retirement over the next 5 years. "Only 12% of respondents were prepared to encourage phased-in retirement in the case of non-union employees who are within 5 years of retirement. Another 51% said they were willing to consider it but only if the employee requested it." Asked about what they saw as the biggest hurdle to implementing a phased-in retirement program, "60% of respondents indicated it was because most jobs are full-time in nature and not easily reduced to a part-time status. Another 25% cited the challenge it would involve in re-designing pension and benefit plans. Only 6% felt the main stumbling block is that it would encourage employees to stay too long."

Source: News Release Morneau Sobeco (May 13, 2005)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

World Bank Report: World Faces Pensions Crunch, Major Reforms Unavoidable

As policymakers in the United States, Europe and Asia grapple with the long-term affordability of their pensions systems, a new World Bank report says that growing demographic and economic pressures are forcing both developing and developed countries to undertake urgent pension reform. According to the report, Old-Age Income Support in the Twenty-First Century: An International Perspective on Pensions and Reform, more women in the global workforce, rising divorce rates, changing employment patterns in the global economy, rising budget deficits, and rising numbers of elderly are making the case for pension reform unavoidable.

Source: Kansas City infoZine (May 24, 2005)

Helping Women Overcome a Grey Ceiling: Tory Johnson

Tory Johnson, chief executive officer of WomenForHire.com and author of "Women For Hire's Get-Ahead Guide to Career Success," was interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America" and gave advice to women on how to beat the perception that youth rules in the workplace and how to get the most of one's career as one get older. Johnson says Americans over 40 in search of jobs are encountering something they weren't looking for: a "gray ceiling"--a career advancement barrier that many older workers face in a workplace seemingly dominated by young people. Among the tips she offered on on how to make age an asset, not an obstacle, in the workplace, are:
  • Don't use age as a crutch.
  • Anticipate the stereotype and be prepared to counter it.
  • Don't focus on age, focus on experience.
  • Anticipate industry-specific opposition.
Source: "How Women Can Avoid the 'Gray Ceiling' at Work" ABC News: Good Morning America (May 24, 2005)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Prudential Financial Survey Uncovers Roadblocks to Retirement

According to the results of a survey conducted by Prudentail Financial, during the first 10 years of retirement, 70% of Americans currently expect to continue working to supplement income and continue to build their retirement nest egg. In the study--Roadblocks to Retirement, 60% of those Americans aged 30-69 who were surveyed in late December 2004 indicated they are "behind schedule in saving for retirement and the vast majority now expects to work longer and/or to continue working in some way in retirement." Four in 10 indicated they were forced to retire (nearly half of them under 60), and almost two-thirds those indicated they were not financially prepared. Looking forward, many expressed a desire for a new approach to make retirement simpler and more accessible, with education and training and more objective recommendations about how to save and plan; in particular, they found appeal in the idea of a holistic training program aimed at helping Americans transition into retirement, something similar to what the military offers to help members adjust to civilian life.

Source: Press Release Prudential Financial (May 24, 2005)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Law Firm Cautions Employers On ADEA Language in Separation Waviers

Roxane Sokolove Marenberg, Adrianne C. Mazura, Dov Grunschlag and Charlene Wilson of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, responding to a recent court of appeals decision "that the release of ADEA claims contained in a general release and covenant not to sue was sufficiently ambiguous that it did not constitute a knowing and voluntary waiver of the employee's rights under the ADEA," caution employers to make sure that they follow waiver requirements or otherwise they may find that a claim they believed was settled or released is in fact alive.

Source: "Ambiguities in ADEA Waivers May Crater Releases" Mondaq (requires free registration) (May 20, 2005)

Older Workers Are Often Preferred to Younger Ones Because They Perform Better

Gary Geyer writes in 50plus Online Magazine reports that many companies are now looking to hire older workers because among other things, they often perform better than younger ones. Not only have they discovered that older workers often perform better on the job, they are more likely to be loyal to a company—not quitting after a few years. Turnover rate for workers over 50 is just one tenth that of those under 30. Conventional wisdom was that hiring older workers would be more costly, what with more medical problems and missed workdays. More and more companies are realizing that that is not the case. They find that training, recruitment costs and time spent learning are much lower for older workers, so the difference in costs are negligible.

Source: "Older Workers Wanted," 50plus Online Magazine (May 20, 2005)

United Kingdom : Unemployment and Older Workers

Since the mid-1990s there has been a rapid rise in the number of older people in work. In spring 2003 seven in ten people aged between 50 and State Pension Age, and almost one in ten people over State Pension Age, were working. According to the Autumn 2004 ONS Labour Force Survey, older (50 to state pension age) workers’s ILO unemployment rates are lower than those of their younger counterparts--2.9% compared to 3.4% for the 25 to 49 age group and 12.6% for the 16 to 24 age group. In addition, older workers are more likely to be working part-time than the 25 to 49 age group, and self-employment is more common amongst older workers compared to the younger age groups.

Source: "Older people are much more likely to be long-term unemployed" TheMatureMarket.co.uk (May 23, 2005)

Friday, May 13, 2005

U.S. Companies Fail to Capture, Transfer Critical Workforce Knowledge and Skills

According to a survey of more than 500 full-time U.S. workers between 40 and 50 years of age conducted by Accenture, 45% of those employees said that their employers do not have formal workforce planning processes and/or tools in place to capture their workplace knowledge. In addition, 26% percent reported that their organizations will let them retire without any transfer of knowledge. However, 34% reported that their companies hire retired employees as contractors so those former employees can transfer their knowledge and skills to their replacements. Kathy Battistoni, a partner in Accenture’s Human Performance practice, said “Companies should take three critical steps to meet the challenge of transferring knowledge from retiring employees.”
First, they must understand the extent of the problem, including the skills at risk, and their organization’s ability to tackle it. Second, they must develop a strategy to capture and transfer core skills from retiring employees and to identify, attract and retain new workers with critical skills. Finally, they must manage and measure the progress of the entire effort. The bottom line is that leaders in this arena know that capturing critical workforce knowledge and skills can’t be left to chance.
Source: News Release Accenture May 10, 2005

Thursday, May 12, 2005

AARP Pushes for Fairness to Unemployed Older Workers

After the Pennsylvania House Labor Relations voted in favor of House Bill 163, a measure to allow qualified unemployed workers who are receiving Social Security benefits to get full unemployment compensation, AARP Pennsylvania recognized the action to end the state's practice of discriminating against unemployed older workers. According to AARP, Pennsylvania currently penalizes these unemployed workers by forcing them to forfeit $1 of unemployment compensation for every $2 they receive in Social Security benefits. "This is an unfair situation for older workers," said J. Shane Creamer, AARP Pennsylvania State President. "These workers and their employers contribute to the unemployment compensation system just like any worker. Yet should they lose their job, they are denied their full unemployment compensation payment." Thirteen other states penalize older workers in this manner, and West Virginia and Hawaii enacted legislation earlier this year to enable older workers in those states to collect full unemployment benefits.

Source: News Release PR Newswire (May 12, 2005)

Census Bureau Issues Study of Older Workers in Pennsylvania

The U.S. Census Bureau has issued a report--A Profile of Older Workers in Pennsylvania (PDF)--finding that, in 2002, about 37% of working Pennsylvanians were age 45 or older, an increase from 33% in 1998. The share of the Keystone State’s workers who were age 65 or older increased slightly over the period, from about 3% to 3.4%. Other highlights of the report indicated that in several industries (local and suburban transit, apparel manufacturing, textile mill products, real estate and educational services), more than 1-in-5 workers were 55 or older and that workers 65 or older were most likely to be employed in 2002 in health services, business services, wholesale trade of durable goods, and food stores.

Source: News Release U.S. Census Bureau (May 10, 2005)

Survey: Future of Retirement

The international banking group HSBC Group has published a comprehensive study on global attitudes to ageing and retirement, which shows that for many people traditional retirement is a thing of the past: 80% want to scrap mandatory retirement while just 14% equate financial independence with old age. Entitled "The Future of Retirement." the study examines attitudes in 10 countries (Brazil, Canada, mainland China and Hong Kong, France, India, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the USA). In addition to finding that what people want is greater choice in when and how they retire.ow they retire, less than a quarter (21%) said that never working for pay again would form part of their ideal retirement.
The median age of the global population will increase dramatically by 20404, straining the funding of retirement. But given the choice between increasing taxes, reducing pensions or raising the retirement age to ease this burden, 45 per cent chose the latter, emphasising the desire of many to make their own decisions. Just 26 per cent said they would accept higher taxes. Only 15 per cent opted to reduce pension benefits.

However, while the research uncovered a growing desire to redefine how we traditionally think about later life, it also found that people in many countries are unsure of where to go to find appropriate advice. Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of those surveyed said they had begun to prepare for retirement but most of this was restricted to reading up on the subject and discussion with family and friends.
In addition to publishing the survey, HSBC has created a Future of Retirement website which offers interactive test for determining how prepared a person is for retirement and retirement solutions offered in various countries.

Source: News Release HSBC Media (May 10, 2005)

Aging of Baby Boomers Brings Focus to Age Discrimination

According to an article by Bill Leonard, Jonathan A. Segal, a partner with the Philadelphia-based law firm of Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, told Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that preventing age bias could become the top diversity challenge that employers must confront over the next five to 10 years. Speakng to SHRM employees as part of SHRM's recognition and celebration of older worker, Segal said that the changing demographic of the more than 75 million baby boomers in the United States has created what he called the “baby boom-erang” and that many employers are clearly guilty of what he called the “Dracula complex”--“They want newer and fresher blood, because they’re under the mistaken impression that it can bring vitality to an organization.”
Segal said it’s easy for employers to address some problems with age discrimination by making sure to avoid improper job interview questions about age and to use uniform interview questions for all employees. Uniform questions can protect employers from unconscious age bias and illustrate their commitment to equal employment opportunity, Segal said.

He said that employers need to be aware of their decision-making processes and remove unlawful considerations of age.

“In other words, there is no such thing as a ‘young person’s job,’ and discomfort with older employees is never a defense in an age-discrimination claim,” he said. “Management should ensure consistency of all hiring and promotions decisions regardless of age relative to providing opportunities, offering training, setting expectations and measuring the results. Everyone must be treated equally.”
Source: "Aging baby boomers bring age bias to the forefront" HR News Online (May 11, 2005)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Alaska Holds Hearings on Senior Employment

The Alaska Commission on Aging is conducting a series of forums around the state to develop recommendations on senior employment, among other things, for this fall's White House Conference on Aging. According to a story by Claire Chandler following one hearing in Anchorage, older workers were described as punctual, reliable, productive and having a good sense about what is important, among other positive attributes valued by employers. Chandler reports that Jeff Kemp, coordinator of the labor department's Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training program, told the forum that fears that older workers will take other people's jobs and promotions is unfounded. In addition, Marty Richards, an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington's Institute of Aging, "encouraged employers to look for ways to utilize seniors' skills by allowing them to work flexible schedules as they slowly transition from full-time work to retirement."

Source" "Options explored to keep older Alaskans working" Alaska Journal of Commerce (May 1, 2005)

Supreme Court Not To Review Maximum Age for Pilots

On May 1, the Supreme Court declined to hear a pilot group's challenge to a federal rule forcing them to retire at age 60. Accordingly, they left in place a ustices let stand a lower ruling in favor of the Federal Aviation Administration, which says the retirement rule for commercial pilots is necessary for safety. Officials have argued that pilots lose critical cognitive and motor skills as they age.

Source: "Court declines to review pilot retirements" Business Week (May 2, 2005)

Thursday, April 28, 2005

GAO Issues Report on Redefining Retirement: Options for Older Americans

The federal Government Accountability Office has issued a report on "Redefining Retirement: Options for Older Americans" that discusses demographic and labor force trends and the economic and fiscal need to increase labor force participation among older workers. According to the report, "with the impending retirement of the baby boom generation, employers face the loss of many experienced workers and possibly skill gaps in certain occupations. This could have adverse effects on productivity and economic growth." In addition, although "some people can benefit by remaining in the labor force at later ages, others may be unable or unwilling to do so. For those who are able, there are many factors that influence their choices," including employer pension and Social Security eligibility rules, health status, the need for health insurance, personal preference, and the employment status of a spouse. "The availability of suitable
employment, including part-time work or flexible work arrangements, may
also affect the retirement and employment choices of older workers."

Source: Government Accountability Office GAO-05-620T Abstract (April 27, 2005)

Special Committee on Aging Holds Hearings on Retirement in 21st Century

The U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging held hearings on "Living Stronger, Earning Longer: Redefining Retirement In The 21st Century Workplace." According to the opening statement by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wis):
Older workers have a lot to offer to businesses, their communities, and the country. Today, older Americans are healthier and more active, and many are willing and able to continue to make a contribution to the workplace and to our economy. We must incorporate this new mindset into our national culture, and develop policies that reflect this reality. Our seniors deserve it and our economic future may well depend on it.
Following an opening statement from Committee Chair Gordon Smith (R-Ore), the committe heard from Frank Robinson, Barbara Bovbjerg from the GAO, Doug Holbrook, AARP, and Valerie Paganeilli, Watson Wyatt Worldwide. Testimony given at the hearings is available both in print and as a Webcast

Source: Hearings on "Living Stronger, Earning Longer: Redefining Retirement In The 21st Century Workplace" Senate Special Committee on Aging (April 27, 2005)

Friday, April 08, 2005

AARP Releases Research on Interest in Phased Retirement

Nearly 40% of age 50+ workers would be interested in participating in phased retirement according to research by AARP Knowledge Management. According to S. Kathi Brown, the report-- "Attitudes of Individuals 50 and Older Toward Phased Retirement"--the opportunity to work a reduced schedule prior to full retirement while simultaneously collecting pension benefits has significant appeal. "Of workers who expressed interest in phased retirement, nearly four in five expect that the availability of such a plan would encourage them to work past their expected retirement age. Although respondents value the ability to work a reduced schedule while collecting some of their pension, they are wary of the possibility that phased retirement might reduce their final pension benefit."

Source: Research Report AARP Knowledge Management (March 2005)

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Phased Retirement: Not All About Retaining Income and Reducing Stress

With some of the institutional barriers that once prevented phased retirement disappearing, Kaja Whitehouse, of The Wall Street Journal, finds that even though "older workers want alternatives to traditional retirement, and many employers want to find ways to keep them working," serious impediments remain. Most importantly, for employees, "reducing work hours not only will result in lower pay, but also could eliminate access to health care, reduce pension distributions and take away other important benefits." In addition, according to a 2003 Cornell University study, most workers who want phased retirement must first obtain permission from their bosses, and Robert Hutchens, the study's author, suggests that few employers will offer formal programs that benefit all older workers. "The future will be a continuation of what's going on currently. . . There's a desire to make sure that, if there's going to be a phased retirement, it's going to be for the right person and for the right job."

Source: "Older workers find happy medium" Baltimore Sun (April 4, 2005)

Impact of Gray Hair in Business Remains Conflicted

Even as the workforce continues to age, the answer to the question whether gray adds gravitas for those seeking to be hired or promoted or is a drawback that is best disguised depends on the circumstances. According Dave Carpener, writing for the Associated Press, experts suggest that Americans are ambivalent about gray hair in the workplace--with some companies eager to hire the gray-haired, while in some other areas there is extreme discrimination against older workers. There may also be sex-based differences, with women feeling less comfortable going gray in the workplace than men.

Source: "Gray Hair: Job Asset Or Liability?" CBS News (March 29, 2005)

Thursday, March 31, 2005

Supreme Court Expands ADEA Rights

In an opinion authored by Justice Stevens, the Supreme Court has ruled that the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) authorizes recovery in disparate-impact cases comparable to that in cases involving race, color, religion, sex, or national origin discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. However, unlike Title VII, the ADEA significantly narrows its coverage by permitting any “otherwise prohibited” action “where the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age”. In the case before the court, the plaintiffs did little more than point out that the pay plan at issue was relatively less generous to older workers than to younger ones. Thus, they did not identify any specific test, requirement, or practice within the pay plan that had an adverse impact on older workers.

Source: Smith v. City of Jackson Supreme Court (March 30, 2005)

Monday, March 28, 2005

EBRI Reports Decreasing Availabiliy of Retiree Health Insurance

According to a new Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) Issue Brief on “The Impact of the Erosion of Retiree Health Benefits on Workers and Retirees”, both early retirees and those over age 65 experienced a substantial drop in employer-based retiree coverage from 1997 to 2002, the last year for which numbers are available. During that five-year period, EBRI reports that the percentage of private employers that offered health benefits to early retirees (those under 65) fell to 13% from 22%, the percentage of private employers that offered retiree health benefits to Medicare-eligible retirees (65 and older) dropped to 13% from 20%.
The EBRI study notes that signs of a shift in worker expectations are apparent already. In 1997, just over 50 percent of wage and salary workers ages 45–64 expected to receive health benefits in retirement; by 2002, that had declined to 47 percent.
Source: News Release Employee Benefit Research Institute (March 22, 2005)

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Older Workers Advice: Fight Age Stereotypes

Writing for the Gannett News Service, Andrea Kay says that not a day goes by "that I get a letter from someone asking, 'What can a 50-ish worker do to get a job? Am I too old?'" She tells workers in their 40's and 50's that you "have been weakened by your fear that employers think you're washed up. You have been brought to your knees by conventional wisdom that others buy into that says technology belongs to the young and older workers hate change and can't adapt. And I've had it up to here." Her advice is to fight back:
Fight back the urge to let stereotypes pervade employers' thinking. Educate them about their shortsightedness. But the fight begins with you and your own mind. You must recognize how easily you fall into the trap of worrying that no one will want you because you're no longer a young whippersnapper.
Source: "Don't give up fight over age stereotypes" The Desert Sun (March 21, 2005)

Monday, March 14, 2005

Age Discrimination a Big Factor in Top Income Brackets

With the Baby Boom generation entering its 60s this year, the American workforce is aging. By the year 2010, over half the country’s workers will be over 40. For those workers at the top of the pay scale, age discrimination has become a large concern. According to a survey conducted by TheLadders.com, 69% of executives said they’ve been the victims of age discrimination when applying for a job. When asked what they thought the biggest drivers of age discrimination were, 45% of survey respondents believed their companies were worried about customer perceptions of older workers, whilie 28% blamed the higher salaries that often come along with more experienced employees, and 20% said that rising health costs were the culprit, and 7% pointed the finger at technology.

Source: News Release PR Web (March 14, 2005)

Study Shows Older Workers More Open to Change

According to research conducted by Dr. Tracey Rizzuto, assistant professor of psychology at Louisiana State University, stereotypes about older workers prevent companies from benefiting from their knowledge and experience. In contrast to the deeply held stereotypes about older workers resisting change and not being able to learn new technologies and systems, her study of older workers when Pennsylvania upgraded its computer systems to streamline and standardize key business processes, found that older workers exhibited more willingness to learn the new technology than their younger counterparts. She will be presenting her findings at the 20th annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.
“While there may be some isolated examples of an older worker being resistant to change, this study suggests that is not typical of most older workers surveyed,” she said. Older workers saw the value of the changes and felt an obligation and loyalty to their co-workers to learn and implement the new technology.

“In fact, older workers are more inclined and interested in making changes to benefit the organization than younger workers,” she said.

. . .

“There is some research that shows older workers may not be as quick in learning new technology skills as younger people, but this study shows the commitment and willingness to learn is stronger among the older workers,” Rizzuto said.
One specific suggestion that Rizzuto had for businesses is that they provide specialized training programs for older workers to keep them current with new technological procedures.

Source: News Release Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (March 10, 2005)

Older Workers Taking Most of New Jobs: Follow-up

In a couple of follow-ups to Dean Baker's findings about older workers increasingly taking up jobs, Sue Kirchhoff writes in USA Today that "as striking, the percentage of individuals 65 and above in the workforce is the highest since 1970" and Seth Sandronsky writes for Political Affairs Journal that "increasingly, workers bear the risk for their retirements."

Kirchhoff notes that baby boomers, by aging into the over-55 group, are pushing up the numbers. However, it notes two separate trends. On the one hand, the 2001 stock market drop, which hurt stock portfolios, and reductions in pension and retiree health benefits mean some might have to keep working for financial reasons. On the other hand, surveys show many plan to keep working because they want to, even if they can afford to retire. According to Marisa DiNatale, economist at Economy.com, "the trend was there even before the economy went into recession; it's more of a structural shift," since the numbers continue a pattern of rising participation rates for older workers since the mid-1990s.

Sandronsky suggests that "economic insecurity is driving older Americans back into the labor market." He points to declining defined pension benefit plans and increased health care costs as two of the drivers. To avoid market risks, "employers are rushing to make employees bear the brunt of stock market investments for their retirements" and, "employers are increasingly choosing not to provide retirees with health insurance coverage" forcing retirees to spend more income from pensions or savings on health care. "For them, earnings from entering the labor market can help with rising health-care spending."

Sources: "Over 55? Get Back to Work!" Political Affairs Magazine (March 14, 2005); "Share of older workers increases" USA Today (March 13, 2005)

Friday, March 11, 2005

Singapore: More Help for Older Workers

According to an article by Jasmine Yin, Singapore's Committee on Ageing Issues (CAI)--co-chaired by Senior Minister of State for Health Dr Balaji Sadasivan and Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Mohamad Maliki Osman--is looking into enhancing financial security of the elderly and improving employability of older workers. In addition, a tripartite committee comprising the Ministry of Manpower, the Singapore National Employers Federation and the National Trades Union Congress has also been formed to examine the employability issues of older workers.

According to a speech to Parliament from Acting Minister for Community Development, Youth and Sports Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, "we need to review the retirement age policy, identify employment opportunities for the elderly, promote elder-friendly work and HR practices." Job creation for older Singaporeans is one of the CAI's priority areas. One possible solution to alleviate such employment woes is to establish an informal industry for older Singaporeans. "We will be piloting a community platform where the elderly and homemakers can make a living selling their own products, like cakes, handicrafts or services," he added. Other ways to help the older worker include promoting an "elder-friendly workplace" and "enlightened" human resource practices, and even providing micro-credit for such informal industry businesses.

Source: "More help for older S'poreans" TODAYonline (March 11, 2005)

U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao Addresses Challenges Of Aging Workforces

U.S. Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao delivered an speech at the G8 Conference in London, addresseing the challenges Of aging workforces. She called for "solutions that would allow older workers greater flexibility in determining their work lives and increase the pool of available older workers to meet projected growing demand for workers." According to Chao, increasing the opportunities for older workers is one way to meet the projected increase in demand in several high-tech, high-skilled fields within the U.S. service sector-—including health care, biotechnology, education, financial services, high-tech manufacturing, retail services, skilled trades and geospatial technology.

Source: News Release U.S. Department of Labor (March 9, 2005)

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Motley Fool Commentary: Need To Keep Working After 65

W.D. Crotty, commenting in Motley Fool on Social Security reform, writes taht "you and your senator face a common problem. You may have to work after age 65 to avoid outliving your retirement funds." The important thing is to plan ahead for this. He recommends that older workers contemplate turning a hobby, like antique collecting, into a business. The point is to start "working" today and test, before retirement, one's business ideas. "Then, find out what works, master those skills, and build a reputation ahead of time -- and supplement your income before retirement." However, for those wheo do not want to deal with the complexity of owning a business and a "regular" job provides both fulfillment and income, "a few years of additional employment will give them the security they need to live" to 100. "Why get bogged down with self-employment when an employer would welcome your contribution for a few years?"

Source: "Planning a Working Retirement" Motely Fool (March 10, 2005)

Senator Hagel Proposes Raising Retirement Age

In a speech at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on Social Security Reform, Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) proposed raising the retirement age from 67 to 68. Furthermore, his proposal would "maintain the current early retirement age at 62, but would adjust benefits for those who choose to retire early" so that workers who retire early would receive 63% of the traditional benefit, rather than the current 70%.

Source: Hagel Speech Detailing Social Security Reform Plan Senator Chuck Hagel (March 7, 2005)

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Being Ready for When Baby Boomers Retire

Anne Fisher interviews David DeLong, head of the workforce unit at the MIT Age Lab and author of Lost Knowledge: Confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce. He offers thoughts on how companies can't afford to lose the expertise that 76 million retiring baby boomers will take with them and how younger employees can take advantage of the opportunities. Also, column is followed by Fortune Online forum of reader comments.

Source: "Ask Annie: Are You Ready for When Baby Boomers Retire?" Fortune (March 8, 2005)

Coastal Georgia Seeks Older Worker of the Year, Employer of the Year

The Georgia Older Worker Network is searching for Coastal Georgia's 2005 Outstanding Older Worker and its Employer of the Year and is currently soliciting nominations from businesses and individuals. The Outstanding Older Worker must be 60 years of age or older, currently employed, and working at least 20 hours each week for pay. The Employer of the Year must show a commitment to recruit, hire and retain older workers 65 years and over who are employed by the company for 20 or more hours of paid employment (minimum wage or higher) per week.

Source: "Search Under Way for Coastal Georgia's Outstanding Older Worker and Employer of the Year" The Business Report & Journal (March 8, 2005)

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Research Finds Stressful Jobs Can Cause Heart Problems for Some Boomers

Stressful jobs after age 60 might cause some boomers to put their health at risk, according to a results of a study ("Age, Stress and Ambulatory Blood Pressure"> by University of Utah psychologists Timothy Smith and Bert Uchino of 384 adults ages 40 to 70 presented at the American Psychosomatic Society. At a minimum, problems on the job raise blood pressure in workers over 60, although they claim to be less upset or sad than younger employees when work problems hit. "Older workers may be more vulnerable to cardiovascular problems if they stay in high-pressure jobs, Smith says. So they might want to look for ways they can reduce stress at work."

Source: "Stressful jobs can put aging boomers at risk" USA Today (March 8, 2005)

Post-Retirement Workers Present Businesses with New Attitudes

"Bonus workers"--Abigail Trafford's term for people who have officially retired and are back in the workforce--represent "a burgeoning generation of older workers who demand autonomy, flexibility and satisfaction on the job." Thus, they can be a real challenge to a power hierarchy of organizations where workers are supposed to submit to the will of management, instead of the other way around.
But are the mid-level managers in these companies ready to deal with the mind-set of the Bonus Worker? When job candidates are plentiful, it's easy to imagine a boss throwing up her hands and saying, "Who needs an uppity codger who wants special treatment?"

To make it worthwhile for companies, older workers have to bring something extra to the job in exchange for flexibility. And many do, because of a lifetime of experience.
Source: "For Older Workers, Bonuses Cut Both Ways" Washington Post (March 8, 2005)

Preventing Crucial Knowledge Leaving with Retiring Older Workers

Anne Fisher writes about a few companies that are working on ways to capture the knowledge of older workers and disseminate it to younger workers before it's too late. What they're doing may offer a blueprint for other companies.
As the "old white guys" depart in droves, plenty of human resources managers fear that the younger workers won't be ready to step up and run the show. Boston-based consulting firm Novations Group recently surveyed 2,900 HR people and found that only one-third are confident that they have enough talent in the pipeline to keep their businesses humming as boomers bow out.
Among the practices Fisher highlights to avoid the brain drain are (1) traditional mentoring, (2) "communities of practice"-—companywide groups that meet, in person and online, to share information, (3) "action learning teams"--which put people together from several disciplines-—manufacturing, sales, marketing, legal, finance—-to solve particular problems, making sure to include young managers who participate along with older and presumably wiser colleagues, and (4) retain older people--at least part-time--until they've had a chance to teach others what they know.

Source: "How to Battle the Coming Brain Drain" Fortune (March 21, 2005)

Monday, March 07, 2005

People 50 and Older Increasingly Working for Themselves.

As a counterpoint to the Hollywood fiction of In Good Company, Carol Elliott tells about the older workers who do not survive corporate shakeups and find themselves out of work and decide it is time to do something different with their lives. According to a 2004 study by Rand Corp., about 5.6 million workers age 50 and older are now self-employed, and Elliott tells the story of a couple of these, pointing out, among things, that cheaper technology makes setting up a home office more feasible than years past, but that whatever business the older entrepreneur chooses, the rules are the same as for anyone else: "Follow your calculator, not your heart."

Source: "Boomers in business" South Bend Tribune (March 6, 2005)

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Companies Worry About Potential Liabilities from Phased Retirement Plans

While many businesses welcome the chance to bolster their workforce as a result of federal government plans to ease phased retirement, they are worried about potential liability. According to a recent Employee Benefit News QuickPoll, 31% of respondents favored phased retirement, while 13% opposed it for fear of age-discrimination lawsuits, and 29% had mixed feelings. An article by Leah Carlson quotes Sylvester Schieber, vice president for research and information at the consulting firm Watson Wyatt, as saying that employers "have been agitating for some time that they be given greater flexibility" in making payments to people in partial retirement, but also that there "are legal concerns that the IRS is going to come back and perceive that somehow we're trying to skirt the suspension of benefits in the accrual rules under the pension plan, and that we might be discriminatory in terms of how we're doing this."

Source: "Phased retirement regulations draw mixed reaction from firms" Employee Benefit News (March 2005)

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Older Workers Taking Most of the New Jobs

Looking at the February 2005 government employment figures showing that employment by workers over age 55 rose by 152,000, Dean Baker, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, says that that older workers continue to be the only group experiencing substantial employment gains in this economy. In fact, workers over age 55 accounted for over half--918,000 of the 1,810,000--of the rise in employment shown in the household survey over the past twelve months. Baker suggests that "[r]ising health care costs, coupled with 401(k)s that are still far below their pre-stock-market-crash peaks, seem to be the driving factor in record employment growth among older workers."

Source: Jobs Byte Center for Economic and Policy Research (March 4, 2005)

Friday, March 04, 2005

Colorado Universities, Consulting Firm Try Solving Aging Workforce Crisis in Utilities Industry

Concerned about future professional staff shortages at Colorado's utilities as their aging workforces near retirement age, E3 Consulting is bringing together faculty from the University of Colorado and Colorado State University to develop new curriculum for energy-sector career tracks at the two institutions. According to Donald J. Hurd, President and CEO of E3 Consulting, although most business, professional and industrial sectors are facing employee shortages in the future, the pending shortage is aggravated in the utility industry because it has not been able to speak with one voice or take specific action to benefit its members in ways similar to medicine, law, journalism and other more consolidated professions. "We must begin to act now to develop the next generation of talented energy-sector executives, technicians and managers to run Colorado's power-producing facilities an distribution systems in decades ahead. The solution lies in the classroom."

Source: BusinessWire News Release (February 28, 2005)

IBM Unveils Portfolio of Accessibility Technologies

At its annual PartnerWorld Conference, IBM introduced a range of solutions and developers' tools that open up the Internet and other information technology to the aging workforce and people with disabilities. Among other things, IBM demonstrated n is its talking Web browser, the Home Page Reader version 3.04, a tool for developers to test Web pages for accessibility early in the prototype and design stage as well as after the content or application has been deployed. Among the products designed to help businesses meet both growing regulatory requirements and the needs of employees and customers who are elderly, IBM specifically points out that seniors and first-time Internet users appreciate the simple user interface provided by IBM's "Easy Web Browsing" for computer users who have low vision and can use the mouse. IBM offers more information on IBM's accessibility information technology for employees, customers and Business Partners on its web site.

Source: Press Release IBM (March 2, 2005)

Thursday, March 03, 2005

South Korea: Aging Workforce and Global Competitiveness

The Korea Institute of Industrial Technology Evaluation and Planning (ITEP) is reported as finding that that Korea’s manufacturing workforce will soon begin to age at a quicker rate, and like Japan, people in their early 50s will make up the biggest share of the working population in the manufacturing industry in the next 5-10 years. According to an article by Kim Sung-jin, ITEP notes that "With the pool of workers expected to decrease in coming decades due to declining fertility and longer life spans, the Korean working-age population will face twin challenges of supporting retired elderly citizens and boosting productivity to maintain economic growth."

Source: "Aging Workforce Poses Big Challenge to Economic Growth" Korea Times (March 2, 2005)

In Good Company: Older Workers and Younger Bosses

According to an article by Randy Ray, you don't need to go see In Good Company to discover that more older employees find themselves working for younger managers and that the switch of power is raising new kinds of friction. He reports taht more employers are opting for youth over experience in grooming managers to replace veteran bosses:
"Succession planning has become an issue with the large number of older workers who are soon to leave the work force," says Linda Duxbury, a professor at the Sprott School of Business at Carleton University. Companies are trying to ensure "who will be their managers five to 10 years from now, so they go with a young person."
This causes friction since many older workers feel threatened and resentful, having been raised in a hierarchical structure under which 10 to 15 years on the job was usually a ticket to a promotion. The article includes a series of recommendations for employers, younger managers, and older workers for handling these changed circumstances.

Source: "Generation swap: Baby boomers face baby bosses" Globe and Mail (March 2, 2005)

UK: People Are Happier at Work the Older They Get:

According to research by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA), traditional age stereotypes are defunct. Among other things, the survey "Age at Work" reveals that:
  • People are happier at work the older they get: 93% of the over 60s like work - the highest among all age groups;
  • People in their 50's and 60's aren't all rushing to retire: 30% of people are happy to work until they're 70 and 13% dread retirement, a feeling that increases with age;
  • Older employees aren't all technophobic: the over 50s are as keen to get to grips with new technology as teenagers. Seventy-four per cent of the over 50s like to keep up with new technology, only 5% fewer than teenagers.
Source: Press Release Employers Forum on Age (February 17, 2005)

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Growing Number of Older Workers Going through "Phased Retirement"

In an article by By Harry Wessel, The Orlando Sentinel, three workers are profiled who are part of the trend of "phased retirement," which experts predict will become more common as baby boomers start retiring, rather than traditional "cliff retirement," in which older workers move from full-time work to full-time leisure. Deborah Russell, director of economic security for AARP, predicts the trend will emerge within three to five years in the health-care industry, with most other industries following suit. However, Dallas Salisbury of the Employment Benefit Research Institute said even with eased rules, employers will be unwilling to offer the flexible, part-time schedules older workers want.

Source: "No longer your grandparents’ retirement" Portsmouth Herald (March 2, 2005)

Australia: Mercer Recommends Raising Pension Age

In response to the Draft Report on "Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia" of Australia's Productivity Commission, Mercer Human Resource Consulting has recommended that the following policies be considered to alleviate some of the adverse economic implications arising from Australia’s ageing population.
  • Provide a framework which encourages employers to recruit and/or retain older workers;
  • Encourage older workers to remain in the workforce through appropriate financial incentives;
  • Review the lack of any clear integration between superannuation benefits and eligibility for the age pension by establishing a framework that provides a clear relationship between the benefits;
  • Bring forward the funding of the existing unfunded superannuation liabilities through a program of decreasing capital injections;
  • Gradually increase the eligibility age for the age pension from 65 to 67;
  • Reduce the front end taxation of superannuation, with some increases to taxes on benefits over the longer term.
Source: "The Mercer Response to The Productivity Commission's Draft Report 'Economic Implications of an Ageing Australia'"Mercer Human Resource Consulting (February 23, 2005)

More Seniors Use Technology to Stay Connected

According to The Oasis Institute, a February 2005 National Survey of Seniors' Attitudes on Technology conducted by Public Strategies Inc. found that seniors are embracing technology in growing numbers. Specifically, 64% of adults age 50-64 and 31% of adults 65+ are using the Internet, a significant increase over previously reported figures. This trend has led to growing interest in OASIS programs offering workplace technology skills, since people are working longer or returning to the workforce after retirement. New courses to be developed in 2005 will address workplace skills, including spreadsheets, presentations and word processing, as well as job search skills using Internet resources.

Source: Press Release The OASIS Institute (March 1, 2005)

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Defined Benefit Plans, Voluntary Retirement Major Factors in Retiree Happiness

According to the study "What Makes Retirees Happy", by Keith Bender and Natalia Jivan for the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, the happiest retirees have a defined-benefits package that provides a lifetime annuity. However, more importantly, the happiest retirees are those who retired voluntarily. With or without money, those forced to retire because they lost jobs or got sick are far less happy:
If individuals say that they voluntarily retired, they express much higher levels of well-being compared to those who did not voluntarily retire. It is likely that if they retired before they had expected to, they may not have completed financial or psychological preparations for retirement, leading to lower wellbeing in retirement. Indeed, the effects of involuntary retirement may actually be greater than reported here since the involuntarily retired also have lower levels of income which would decrease satisfaction even further. The second major factor is health. Unsurprisingly, those with poor health also experience dramatically lower levels of well-being. Although neither of these factors is controllable from a policy point of view, they do indicate areas where more research could be done to help assure higher levels of well-being for retirees.
Source: "What Makes Retirees Happy?" Center for Retirement Research Issues Brief (February 2005)

Netherlands: Working Past Retirement Age

Ann-Marie Michel of Radio Netherlands interviews Ger Thielen, co-ordinating secretary of the Taskforce for Older People and Employment, to address the "ominous rumblings" in Dutch newspapers about fewer workers caring for more retirees who'll live longer than ever and expect top quality of life and the government's push for drastic changes to the pension system in a bid to keep people working longer. With automatic retirement at 65--or earlier--likely to be a thing of the past, Thielen says:
You're always too late, of course, and looking at the demographic developments, I think we seriously have to try to improve participation of many people in a lot of areas, otherwise this complex society will not survive.
Source: "Working past the retirement age" Radio Netherlands (February 28, 2005)

Monday, February 28, 2005

Monsanto Attracts Early Retiree with Special Work Program

According to an article by Chicago Tribune writer Barbara Rose, Monsanto opeates a program aimed at tapping retirees' skills, which enabled an early retiree who left after 26 years to take an assignment that allowed her to resume working without being thrust back into a full-time job and without giving up her retiree benefits. According to Rose:
Monsanto's program — a rarity in the business world — is a harbinger of a future in which retirees and older workers will be offered the chance to leave work gradually, opting for more flexible hours and less responsibility until they're ready to retire altogether.

Such programs represent a dramatic shift in a society that for decades devised increasingly rich incentives to replace older employees with less-expensive younger workers.
Some aspects of Monsanto's program are that:
  • Retirees must be gone from the company at least six months before being hired on again part time.
  • It is open to employees of all ages who leave in good standing.

In addition, a pending IRS rule change would allow workers to start drawing prorated pension benefits at age 59-1/2 while working fewer hours.

Source: "Redefining 'retirement'" The Seattle Times (February 27, 2005)

AARP Unveils "Worforce Initiative" for Mature Job Seekers

The AARP Foundation and 13 major companies announced a major new program called the "Workforce Initiative" to help Americans aged 50 and over to stay in the workforce. This will include highlighting "Featured Employers"-–"companies that have committed to an aggressive program of recruiting, hiring, and retaining mature workers." According to AARP, the first group of Featured Employers includes major names in business: Adecco, AlliedBarton Security Services, Borders Group, Inc., Express Personnel Services, Johns Hopkins Health System, Kelly Services, Manpower Inc., MetLife Inc., Pitney Bowes, Principal Financial Group, The Home Depot, Universal Health Services and Walgreens. The overall goal of the Workforce Initiative is to connect mature workers with job opportunities.
First, it will help 50+ workers prepare for remaining in the workforce by linking them with skills assessment tools and training resources. Next, it will provide connections for those who may want full or part-time jobs or new careers with companies who value their experience. Finally, it will be a resource to large and small companies, to help them understand the needs and interests of a mature workforce. The strength of this program involves commitment on the state and local level working with both the public and private workforce sectors to provide connections for mature workers seeking employment.
Source: News Release AARP (February 28, 2005)

Sunday, February 27, 2005

AARP Foundation Names Pitney Bowes "Featured Employer"

Pitney Bowes and 12 other national companies were named “Featured Employers” by the AARP Foundation for being forward-looking companies in regard to the impact of an aging workforce on employers, employees and on the economy. AARP named the companies as part of its launch of the Workforce Initiative. The Workforce Initiative is designed to help job seekers remain in the workforce, as they desire, by seeking to help mature jobseekers and workers close the existing gap of opportunities by offering employment connections, skills assessment and access to training. According to Pitney Bowes,
Pitney Bowes was recognized for giving equal consideration to mature job seekers as it does for applicants from all other groups. The company also provides programs to support their employees’ health, education, preparation for retirement, care giving to elderly parents and other family members, among others.
Source: Press Release Pitney Bowes (February 28, 2005)