Friday, December 29, 2006

China: White Paper on Aging Issues Published

China is acknowledging the urgent challenges presented by the country's aging population with the publication of a cabinet-level White Paper on the problem, which is part of an effort to grapple with the prospect of rising social-security and healthcare costs, a tightening labour market, and other potential obstacles to continue rapid economic growth.

The White Paper--"The Development of China's Undertakings for the Aged"--released by the China National Committee on Aging addresses a number of topics, including the old-age security system, health and medical care for the aged, social services for an aging society, cultural education for the aged, participation in social development, and safeguarding elderly people's legitimate rights and interests. With respect to Participation in Social Development, the paper calls for giving senior citizens encouragement and support to integrate into society and continue to make contributions to the social development of China.
In urban areas, governments at all levels guide senior citizens to participate in the fields of education and training, technological consultation, medical and health work, scientific and technological development and application, and care for the younger generation, in accordance with the demands of economic, social, scientific and technological development.

In rural areas, governments encourage people in their 60s to engage in farming, aquaculture and processing activities. Statistics show that among the elderly people of China, in urban areas 38.7 percent participate in public welfare activities, and 5.2 percent still have paid work; in rural areas, 36.4 percent are engaged in farming.
Source: People's Daily Online "China faces grim challenges to cope with ageing population" (December 12, 2006); China Central Television China addresses aging issues" (December 12, 2006); The Brunei Times "China grapples with decrepit population" (December 20, 2006)

Monday, December 25, 2006

Canada: New Strategy Sought To Keep Older Workers Working

According to a story by Gloria Galloway for The Globe and Mail, policy poapers from Canada'a Department of Human Resources and Social Development suggest a new strategy to help older workers stay on the job until they are ready to retire, including restructuring the country's inflexible pension plans. Documents that are part of a four-pillared "Framework for Action for Older Workers" urge the national government to "provide more flexible work to retirement transitions by removing the structural and financial disincentives to continue working" and advocate the creation of a "comprehensive range/suite of employment assistance measures for older workers" including more training and employment services.
The documents, which were obtained by Ottawa-based researcher Ken Rubin, say an increased presence of older Canadians in the work force is key to the country's future prosperity. Because of the aging population, the per capita GDP is expected to fall off sharply, beginning in about 2025. "Optimizing older worker participation is the best means to offset labour market declines."
Source: The Globe and Mail "Help older workers keep working, Ottawa told" (December 22, 2006)

Saturday, December 23, 2006

South Korea: China and Japan Compete for IT Workers To Replace Aging Workers

South Korea, which is having its own aging problems, is losing a significant number of workers to non-Korean employers overseas due to job shortages, according to DongA.com. Moreover, Korean companies are not making enough systematic efforts to retain workers.
China is eying Korea’s high-tech workforce who they think will boost its industrial growth. Grappling with an aging population, Japan is looking for workers who will help relieve itself of the burden of workforce shortages.
...
Japan is luring more Korean workers to enhance its IT competitiveness and resolve its workforce shortages problem caused by aging. Indeed, the Japanese government and businesses are making hard efforts to recruit Korean and Chinese IT workers under the second-phase “e-Japan” project whose main objective is Japan’s comeback as an IT powerhouse.
Source: DongA.com "China, Japan Inc. Recruiting Koreans" (December 23, 2006)

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Virginia: Hampton Roads Area Needs To Plan for Aging Workforce

According to John W. Whaley, deputy executive director of economics for the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission, a rapidly aging population in Hampton Roads will cause a slowdown in the growth of the region's labor force and standard of living. In a presentation to commission members, Whaley said the percentage of older people in the region's population would increase as the baby boomer generation ages into retirement. Also, there are fewer younger people due to low birth rates and more older people due to longer life expectancies.
Officials in Hampton Roads must take action to face the impending shortage of workers, he said, suggesting that companies and policymakers should find ways to retain older workers. He also recommended that cities in Hampton Roads should encourage the in-migration of young people from other areas of the country, if not the world.
Source: Hampton Roads Daily Press "Growth of region's work force may ebb" (December 21, 2006)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Australia: Employers Must Address Health and Safety Issues with Aging Workers

Speaking at the 2006 Sydney Safety Show, Product Development Manager, CGU Safety and Risk Services, Angela Micic told listeners that as Australia faces a growing number of older people working and remaining in the workforce, employers must address the OHS problems this trend presents and implement risk management strategies.
A number of prevention strategies are available to employees to minimise risk associated with the ageing workforce in Australia. Risk management strategies will vary depending on jurisdictional occupational health and safety and workers compensation requirements in conjunction with workplace and workplace requirements. Employers need to ensure that work organisation and job design is suitable for all workers, with attention to older workers. The implementation of some of the preventative strategies may lead to improvements in OHS, reduction in injuries and claims and ultimately an increase in productivity and retention.
Source: Ferret.com "OHS issues facing an ageing population" (Decenber 20, 2006)

Commentary: Age-Adjusted Earnings for Corporations?

Matt Miller suggests in a commentary on American Public Media's Marketplace that to get business' attention on health-care and pension issues, the Democratic Congress should require separate income statements that show what earnings would be if companies had average-aged workers.
These days, the drag on corporations of decent healthcare and pension coverage for an aging American workforce is real. But the idea that a firm's success could depend so much on the youth of its workers is also crazy.

A sane nation would look at how to separate business performance from some social sense of what makes for decent health and pension coverage for every citizen.
Source: Marketplace
"Age-adjusted earnings reports" (December 19, 2006)

Thursday, December 14, 2006

California: State Agriculture Must Develop Stable Workforce

Adressing a general session of the California Farm Bureau Federation's Annual Meeting, Victoria Bradshaw, secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, told the federation that one of the major challenges that lies ahead in the area of labor is developing a stable agricultural workforce in California and that, unless California's farmers and ranchers do not build careers and vocations in agriculture, they will be left with an aging workforce and not a replenishing workforce.
"Supply has been a major challenge in the last couple of years. One of the reasons agriculture is having a problem is not any different than a lot of other industries," Bradshaw said. "For agriculture though there is a major competitor out there and that is the expanding construction industry. It is growing at a very rapid pace, some in the infrastructure, some in residential housing, but there is a huge demand for labor and they are offering higher wages and long-term employment."

Another challenge she highlighted is training people to work in agriculture. Unless California's farmers and ranchers do not build careers and vocations in agriculture, Bradshaw said, they will be left with an aging workforce and not a replenishing workforce.
Source: California Farm Bureau Federation News Release (December 13, 2006)

Book: Analysis of Aging Workforce and Strategic Concepts for Enterprises to Survive

Research and Markets has announced the addition of "Managing the Aging Workforce: Challenges and Solutions" to their offerings. Co-authored by Marius Leibold, Professor in Strategy at Stellenbosch University, Nitin Nohria, Richard P. Chapman Professor of Business Administration and Senior Associate Dean and Director of Faculty Development at the Harvard Business School, and Sven C. Veolpel, Director of the research group WISE, the book presents an analysis of the present and upcoming situation, and an introduction into the strategic concepts enterprises will need to survive in aging societies.
For companies thus, a number of challenges arise that have to be overcome fast and continuously. The main topics in this field will be new strategies in leadership, new concepts in health management, new ways in knowledge management and learning, as well as new models how to drive ideas for diversity and innovation.

On the one hand, enterprises therefore will have to invest in their aging employees for supporting their talents, helping them to learn and keeping them in the company. On the other, they will have to increase productivity, keep on searching for new products, and integrate experts from abroad. This has to be combined with new ways of strategies and HR management.
"Managing the Aging Workforce: Challenges and Solutions" will be available in the United States in early February. The table of contents is available online.

Source: Research and Markets News Release (December 13, 2006)

Monday, December 11, 2006

FAA Contemplates Raising Mandatory Retirement Age for Pilots, Wall St. Journal Reports

According to an article by Andy Pasztor for the Wall St. Journal, the Federal Aviation Administration, moving away from its longstanding policy that airline pilots must retire at age 60, wants to let them work in the cockpit as many as five years longer. Pasztor reports that after repeatedly opposing similar efforts to change the rules, some U.S. airlines and pilots groups are beginning to soften their stances.
The FAA's apparent change of heart is influenced by the current tight market globally for pilots as well as the lack of recent scientific data demonstrating any clear-cut erosion of safety from extending the careers of pilots, according to one person familiar with the matter. In addition, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission concluded the 60-year age limit is discriminatory.
In addition, Pasztor writes that keeping the age limit at 60 is becoming more difficult to defend, following a move by the International Civil Aviation Organization to raise retirement ages at airlines world-wide. A spokeswoman for FAA Administrator Marion Blakey said the industry can "expect a decision relatively soon." However, if a proposal is made, finalizing new regulations could take 18 months or more.

Source: Wall St. Journal "FAA Set to Raise Retirement Age For Pilots to 65" (December 11, 2006 (subscription required)

Massachusetts Facing Shrinkage of Prime Working Age Populaton

A study released by the Massachusetts Institute of a New Commonwealth (MassINC) and the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University has found that the Massachusetts labor force declined by 1.7% from 2003 to 2005 while the national labor force expanded by 3.1% and that most of those who left the labor force were men in two age groups--16- to 24-year-olds and 35- to 54-year-olds.

Thus, according to the study--“Mass Economy: the Labor Supply and Our Economic Future”--one fo the three critical factors for growth in the economy will be incorporating more older workers into the workforce. The combination of the aging of the baby boom generation the declining number of workers in what is considered the “prime working age years” (25-54 years old) will have the result that, in particular between 2010 and 2015, the graying of the Massachusetts labor force will accelerate further.

Source: MassInc and Center for Labor Market Studies Research Report (December 2006)

Other Sources: The Enterprise "Shrinking labor force threatens region" (December 10, 2006); Worcester Telegram "Report says Massachusetts is losing workers" (December 10, 2006)

Halogen Software Introduces Succession Planning Software

In introducing a new version of its Halogen Employee Performance Management Suite, Halogen Software announced that Halogen EPM Suite 8.0 includes Halogen eSuccession™--a succession planning tool based on talent pools. Pointing out that, as millions of baby boomers approach retirement, succession planning is becoming an increasingly urgent business issue, Halogen suggests that eSuccession allows managers to understand their workforce's potential and areas of retention risk, proactively develop employee performance and fulfill succession requirements with the right candidates from talent pools of people ready to meet the task head on.
"The aging workforce is a concern for all organizations. Our goal is to develop the talent of our employees and to prepare them for advancement." said Debbie Clark, senior HR generalist with Oil States International. "Halogen eSuccession is a means to get everybody, from the top down, involved in the process of planning for our organization's future."
Source: Halogen Software Inc. News Release (December 11, 2006)

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

United Kingdom: Participation in Defined Benefit Schemes Falls, Retirement Age Rises

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported that membership of employer-sponsored defined benefit pension schemes fell from 39% 35% of employees between 2004 and 2005--down from 46% in 1997, when recordkeeping began. Membership of defined contribution schemes increased from 10% to 15% of the working-age population between 1997 and 2005, driven by increases in membership of group personal and stakeholder pensions.

The ONS publication Pension Trends has been updated to reflect this data. In addition, it shows that the average age at which male and female workers withdraw from the labour force is rising. In 2006, it was 64.2 years for men, the highest level since 1984, when data first became available. The average age for women was 61.8 years, the second-highest
on record.

In addition, employment rates of older men and women rose in spring 2006 to the highest levels since comparable records began in 1984. For men aged from 50 to under 65, the employment rate was 72.6% and for women aged from 50 to under 60, it was 67.9%. For men over that state pension age, the employment rate was 9.6% and for women, 11.1%.

Source: National Statistices News Release (Decenber 5, 2006)

Monday, December 04, 2006

Survey: Alabama Firms Not Prepared for Retirement

According to a survey of 348 Alabama employers conducted for the AARP, while 95% percent say it is no less than “very important” for their organization to retain skilled employees, only 11% report having taken actions to prepare for the retirement of baby boom workers.

The report--Alabama Survey of Employers’ Practices for Managing An Aging Workforce--found that in order to accommodate workers interested in working beyond normal retirement age, employers were were planning or considering: (1) enabling employees to ease into retirement by reducing their work schedules (49%); (2) hiring retired employees (47%); (3) providing part-time work arrangements without continuation of benefits (45%); and (4) upgrading training (43%).

Source: AARP Policy & Research Research Report (August 2006)

Other Sources: The Huntsville Times "Too few firms in state are planning for retirement" (December 3, 2006); The Montgomery Advertiser Survey: Firms not ready for boomers' exit (December 5, 2006); The Birmingham News "Baby boomers reaching point of mass retirement" (December 1, 2006)

Friday, December 01, 2006

United Kingdom: Companies Urged To Recruit Older Workers

Taleo, a provider of on demand talent management solutions, and The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) have jointly published a white paper--"Tapping into the Older Worker Talent Pool”--that highlights the opportunity for companies to address the looming skills crisis by recruiting older workers, and provides step by step advice on how companies can execute this strategy.

Despite the the demographic trends in the UK with an ageing workforce that is causing a general shortage of skills, many organisations retain significant biases and misconceptions about recruiting older workers. According to the white paper, "practical recruitment strategies that take advantage of the growing talent pool of older workers will therefore be increasingly critical in creating a competitive workforce in the UK." Specifiically, TAEN and Taleo Research recommend that employers:
  • Consider where you are advertising your job opportunities
  • Word your job opportunities carefully
  • Capture candidate data on compliant, electronic application forms
  • Drive the selection process based on skills
  • Consider re-skilling or up-skilling new or existing employees
Source: Taleo Press Release (November 30, 2006)

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Role of Employers in Discussing Retirement Options with Employees

In an article in Employee Benefit News, Lydell C. Bridgeford discusses the pros and cons about how employers talk about retirement education programs, especially ones addressing the financial pros and cons to working past age 62 to 67. While older workers thinking about working past the required retirement age must balance the rewards with the penalties and need information about the costs and benefits, there is a real question about whether employers should become more active in offering education programs on delayed retirement.
[John] Young [ executive vice president of sales and marketing at Michigan-based Freedom One Financial Group] observes that employers tend to leave retirement financial education up to outside professionals whom workers have already chosen, or a potential service provider of their 401(k) program that includes retirement education planning as part of the basic service.
However, it can be in the employer's interest to help with the education, especailly as younger workers become relatively more scarce and employers increasingly want to retain older workers.

Source: Employee Benefit News "Educating workers about delayed retirement" (November 2006)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Manufacturing: Coping with Replacing Older Workers in Jobs Younger Workers Don't Want

An article in Manufacturing US focuses on how young people are steering clear of manufacturing just at the time that manufacturers are experiencing a moderate to severe shortage of skilled production employees, including machinists, distributors and technicians. One problem may be an image one:
“Dirty, dark, dangerous, and dull,” says Director of Operations Leo Reddy of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC). MSSC is the nationwide, industry-led organization focused on the core knowledge and skills needed by US production workers. “There’s definitely a concern among educators in attracting young people into manufacturing, a negative perception we have to improve,” says Reddy.
Thus, many manufacturers try to appeal to younger workers by focusing on the "cool" products they produce or the tools that they use to produce them. "If all else fails, then manufacturers appeal to the rewards of a steady career in manufacturing." MSSC and the National Association of Manufacturers are trying close the employment gap and in September 2006 launched the U.S.’s first effort to establish nationally-recognized credentials for qualified manufacturing production workers.

Source: Manufacturing US "Dirty, dark, dangerous, and dull" (November 2006)

Canada: Ontario's Ban on Mandatory Retirement Begins December 12, 2006

Ontario's "Ending Mandatory Retirement Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005", which was enacted by the legislative assembly in December 2005, takes effect on December 12, 2006. When the legislation takes effect, it will amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to protect people aged 65 and over from age discrimination for most employment purposes.

The Ministry of Labour has updated its FAQ: Mandatory Retirement and also maintains a Mandatory Retirement website.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Labour News Release (November 14, 2006)

Other Sources: Hamilton Spectator "Mandatory retirement soon to be obsolete" (November 28, 2006)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Scientific Study Finds 76% of Workers Older than 60 Are Overweight or Obese

According to research conducted by Alberto Cordero of the University of Navarra School of Medicine, “76% of workers older than 60 years of age are overweight or obese. However, less than one third of those 40 years of age and younger suffer these health issues.”
The research group MESYAS (Metabolic Syndrome in Active Subjects), conducted a study of 19,041 active workers throughout Spain. Through these subjects, the project analyzed the incidence of metabolic syndrome, in conjunction with cardiovascular risk factors which tend to appear in the same individual, in order to obtain a common related physiopathology.
Cordero's research has been published in the American Journal of Hypertension, the Revista Espanola de Cardiología, and Medicina Clinica.

Source: University of Navarra News Release (November 22, 2006)

Monday, November 27, 2006

New Zealand: New Data Shows Growth of Jobs, Earnings for Older Workers

Employees aged 65 years and over showed the greatest increase in both job growth and earnings over the five-year period 2000-2005, according to statistics released by Statistics New Zealand from Linked Employer-Employee Data (LEED) from September 2005. Although those employees had one of the lowest levels of earnings, they had the highest increase in earnings--39.2% (from $4,750 to $6,610)--and the highest rate of job growth--109.4%.

The Figures also show a rise in job growth of 48.3% for those aged 55–59 years and 67.7% for those aged 60–64 years. The 15 to 19-year age group was associated with the second largest growth rate in earnings (26.8%)--which may have been influenced by annual increases in minimum youth wage rates, while the 55 to 59-year age group followed with the third largest growth rate in earnings (23.7%).

Source: Statistics New Zealand Media Release (November 27, 2006)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

United Kingdom: Delivering Healthier, Safer Workplaces for All Ages

Over one third (36.5%) of UK workers believe they will be unable to do their job at 60, according to the latest statistics, revealed in Hazards Magazine. The report--'Going strong'--shows that the great majority of employees have no significant health impediments to prevent them working up to 65, or beyond if they wish, yet poor health is the most common reason why people over 50 leave a job, with only half retiring early by choice. Hazards calls on employers to stop using bogus health and safety excuses to get rid of, or not employ older people, and start helping keep the ageing UK population in work and off benefits.

A special feature on older workers by editor Rory O’Neill spells out the measures necessary to deliver healthier workplaces for all, regardless of age. Among other things, the article points out that improving health and longevity mean the great majority of workers have no significant health impediments to prevent work up to the age of 65 and for many, where they wish, beyond, and that workplace health and safety considerations are not a valid reason to prevent older workers continuing in work.
Age management strategies must target “ageing” rather than just “older” workers. Planning occupational health interventions and devising job redesign or alternative work in good time, with policies looking at workers in the 45+ age group, will provide greater scope for creating suitable and healthy work transitions. Career structures should allow a shift to more suitable work, where necessary or desirable.
Among the topics explored in detail are:
  • workplace health, citing findings that “older workers do not have more accidents in the workplace.”
  • older women, older workers, which notes that the impact of work on the health and employability of older women workers is particularly neglected, so that strategies must be both age and gender sensitive to ensuring the “work ability” of older women workers.
  • safety rep's checklist
In addition, the article provides links to sources and websites pertaining to the issues discussed.

Sources: Hazards Magazine "Not dead yet" (No. 96, October-December, 2006); Trade Union Congress Press Release (November 24, 2006)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

United Kingdom: Age Legislation Not Ending Ageist Attitudes

Findings from the Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI), produced by Cranfield School of Management, suggest that organizations have a long way to go to eliminate age discrimination at work and become fully compliant with the recent UK legislation. Specifically, while 89% of organizations claim to have introduced or changed their policies and practices to comply with the legislation which came into effect on October 1, 24% do not have an age discrimination policy and only 54% provide training to managers with regard to age discrimination. Furthermore, one in seven of the responding HR managers admitted to being aware of current discriminatory policies and practices within their organization.
Commenting on the findings Dr Emma Parry, Research Fellow at Cranfield School of Management, said:

"These results give particular cause for concern as the respondents are HR managers, who should be responsible for championing the elimination of age discrimination within organisations. The results also demonstrate that the creation of policies regarding age discrimination is not enough. Training and education programmes are needed in order to address these attitudes and the discrimination that is commonly associated with them."
Source: Cranfield University School of Management Press Release (November 21, 2006)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rhode Island: Focus on Aging Workforce in Manufacturing

As part of a Focus issue on baby boomers, the Providence Business News published two articles by on workforce and the aging. The first, by Natalie Myers, focuses on manufacturing companies trying to fill the holes created by today’s retirees. The second, by Nicole Dionne, focuses on how the employment needs of the baby boom cohort are being taken very seriously in the workplace.

According to Myers, in manufacturing, it takes a substantial amount of time to teach the skills the retirees have spent 10 to 20 years learning themselves. She focused on one company--Handy & Harman--where about 30% of the workers are older than 55 and the average age is 47. She reports that Handy & Harman invests heavily in its on-the-job training program and, to help supplement training costs, seeks grants from state and federally funded organizations such as the Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island. In addition, she reports that companies have to balance the need for new trainees with the need to implement lean manufacturing principles, to cut production costs and stay competitive.

According to Dionne, 23% of Rhode Island’s work force is 55 and older.
“This is a group that is a great resource, particularly now,” said Kathy Partington, chief of work force development for the R.I. Department of Labor and Training. “They have a lot of skills that can be transferred to different jobs."
The biggest barriers faced by older workers are salaries and the perception of employers who feel that they should get younger workers with more cutting-edge skills. In order to counter those barriers, the state training department works to get employers to see the value of older employees.

Source: Providence Business News "Factories toil to replace retirees" and "Older workers offer employers challenges, rewards" (November 18, 2006)

Japan: Companies Starting To Build Experience Hiring Older Workers Part-Time

An article in Kyodo News describes how one company is paying keener attention as a workforce and customer to baby boomers, whose massive retirement will begin next year. Specifically, Lawson, Inc. "plans to increase its number of middle-aged and elderly part-timers to 20 percent of such workers, now numbering about 150,000, within several years because it believes seniors are more likely to enter its outlets if there are shop employees of the same generation."

However, other companies lack experience in employing the middle-aged and elderly. "Masaru Okamura, a director of Tokyo-based Ten Allied Co. which operates Japanese-style pubs, said, 'Young shop managers don't have experience in supervising elderly people and don't know appropriate language to be used for them.' The company is now actively seeking older workers by offering bonuses, but creation of a workplace environment to truly bring out their abilities is still a work in progress."

Source: Kyodo News "Conflict between young and old over part-time jobs seen possible" (October 26, 2006)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Australia: Health Research Finds Older Workers More Productive

According to research conducted by Australian Health Management, workers aged 55 or above are more productive than under-35s because they suffer less depression and headaches, and have no childcare problems. While the younger group had an average 19% reduction in productivity due to childcare responsibilities, allergies, depression, headaches, and asthma, workers aged 55 or more showed reduced productivity of only 13%.

Australian Health Management called for health funds and employers to pay greater attention to the value of reducing health risk factors such as weight, stress and smoking. As reported by Matthew Franklin:
The company produced dramatic figures showing that after it enrolled nearly 4000 of its members in a six-month health program, the average claim in the subsequent six months tumbled from $3017 to $1761.

"You can't stop people ageing," said AHM chief executive Dan Hook. "But you can get people to address their risks ... Risk factors are the sleeper in the health debate."
Source: The Australian "Older workers more productive" (November 14, 2006)

New England: Aging Workforce Threatens To Stall Economic Development

Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies has prepared a report showing that New England’s aging workforce could stall economic development and job growth in the future, particularly in Maine, which has the oldest population in the country. According to the report, which was released today as part of The New England Council’s Older Worker Initiative, all of the growth in the Maine labor force over the next decade will come from those aged 55 and older.
“We believe that New England is at a critical juncture. The aging population creates important challenges and significant opportunities for developing strategies to respond to these inevitable workforce changes. We need to develop specific proposals to encourage the active engagement of older workers in the employment market,” [James] McCaffrey [Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s New England Market Leader and member of the Council’s Board of Directors] said. “Retirement regulations – both on a state and federal level – often actually encourage workers to retire early and not return to the workforce. In New England, we could find a significant gap of available employees and skilled worker shortages that ultimately will hinder our ability to add jobs and grow.”
As part of the Initiative, business leaders will meet with public officials to discuss a variety of issues including: pension policies that limit workers’ ability to mix work and retirement income, workforce development programs that do not serve older workers, and the need for the workplace to accommodate an older workforce.

Source: New England Council Press Release (November 14, 2006)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Neurosurgeon Offers Medical Underpinning for Abandoning Retirement Concepts

Morris R. Beschloss interviewed neurosurgeon Dr. James Ausman regarding aging and its impact on America's employment for the Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun and wrote that Ausman "some remarkable solutions to the inevitable calamity awaiting this country within the next decade." Among other things, Ausman suggests that Social Security Act and Medicare have fossilized into a status quo that had already proved antiquated decades ago. According to Beschloss's understanding of their conversation:
[Political cowardice] has further imposed a retirement psychosis encompassing millions of able-bodied retirees and companies employing them. Obviously, those ailing, sick or no longer able to carry on their chosen vocation should have the opportunity to vacate the working arena at the previously designated term of 65.

But with the galloping demand for professionals and practitioners of jobs that will go increasingly begging in the years ahead, today's archaic retirement programs engender an unacceptable waste.
Ausman calls this the abandonment of "the leading generation" and thinks it has been resigned to the wasteland of what could be indispensable contributions to the critical needs of America's foreseeable future. First, as people get older they get smarter, using both sides of the brain to facilitate accumulated information, which he calls the biological basis of wisdom. Second, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases can be delayed by being mentally and physically active.

Source: The Desert Sun "Talent drain could hit workforce" (November 12, 2006)

Generational Differences: Younger Workers Desire New Technologies

At the Federal Computer Week’s Government CIO Summit in San Diego, agencies were told that, as the federal government reaches out to young workers, they will have to adopt new technologies, such as instant messaging, and recognize their innovative uses in the workplace. As Matthew Weigelt writes, the "government’s workforce is aging and the majority is nearing retirement age," and in the years since they arrived in public service, technologies have progressed rapidly.
Cora Carmody, SAIC's executive chief information officer, said young employees often are taking a technological step backward when entering the workplace. They expect to find wireless devices in businesses, when some companies may not have them.
As another speaker said, agencies must consider how to make the most of those new technologies. "As the workforce grows younger, the employees will come in with the expectatiom of having familiar tools available."

Source: Federal Computer Week "Young workforce will affect technology in workplace" (November 7, 2006)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Survey: Kelly Global Workforce Index Reports on Ageism Around the World

Kelly Services has released results of the Kelly Global Workforce Index, a survey of over 70,000 workers in 28 countries about their experiences in workforce discrimination on account of age (both young and old). For example, in Australia, the Index reports that almost half of all Australians believe they have been discriminated against in applying for a job, with older Australians now facing the greatest prejudice. Specifically, 48% of workers aged 45 or older felt they had been discriminated against on the basis of their age. In India, age also was the major source of prejudice, cited by 16% of the respondents there.

According to Kelly Services Sales & Operations Director (New Zealand), Steve Kennedy,
“Ageism has overtaken ethnicity and sexism in many areas as the greatest source of discrimination in employment. At a time when we face an ageing population and skills shortages, many organisations are putting obstacles in the way of hiring older people. This can be devastating for individuals but it is also means many organisations are shutting off an important source of talent and diversity. Organisations that don’t address these issues directly can do themselves considerable damage and can suffer costs both direct and indirect. They may suffer high staff turnover, absenteeism, poor morale, low productivity, poor reputation, and also the possibility of civil claims and penalties arising from breach of anti discrimination laws.”
The Kelly Global Workforce Survey Results are available (with free registration).

Source: News Releases Australia (October 2006); Canada;
India (October 19, 2006): New Zealand (October 17, 2006); Spain (October 24, 2006); United Kingdom (October 24, 2006)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Arkansas Mature Workplace Initiative Encouraging Employers To Hire Older Workers

At a regional meeting focusing on the Arkansas Mature Worker Initiative, representatives from three local companies said older workers are key factors to daily operations. According to an article by Chandra Huston for the Baxter Bulletin, more and more "retirees" are heading back to the workforce.
Ranger Boats Human Resources Director Cheryl Davenport said 62 percent of the company's 850 employees are older than 45. She said mature workers are exactly what the business needs because of their experience.
In addition, Cameron Davis, store manager for Wal-Mart in Mountain Home, said d that people come to the area after retirement but realize they want to go back to work and, "Surprisingly, wages are not a big consideration for them. . . . "They just want to do something."

Source: Baxter Bulletin "Employers turn to mature workers" (November 2, 2006)

Other Sources: Arkansas Department of Worforce Services Arkansas Mature Workforce Initiative

Making the Workplace a Friendlier Place for all the Generations

According to Graham S. Toft, a senior fellow at Thomas P. Miller and Associates in Indianapolis, many older workers will choose to remain an active part of the work force. "I don't think we fully recognize how big an impact the baby-boom phenomenon will have on continuing to work--not on retirement," he is quoted as saying in an article by Julie Cope Saetre for The Indianapolis Star. "Toft said research is showing a noticeable change in the attitudes of workers 55 and older about working beyond the age of 65."
It's not a deliberate oversight, says Toft. Rather, the labor pool has been relatively plentiful and the concept of an aging work force has developed gradually.

"It's not something that dramatically impacts you in one year," he said. "It's a stealth phenomenon. We kind of accept it as it comes. We recognize in the workplace you can have three generations of workers now working in the same place. And that wasn't so 27 years ago. And it could be even four generations (if) people keep working into their 80s."
In the same article, Saetre also writes about Duke Energy's 4-year-old Senior Leader Program, through which Duke reaches out to its older employees by allowing them to work as independent contractors, or keeping them on the payroll on a part-time basis.

Source: Indianapolis Star "In age of an aging work force, wise employers keep door open" (November 1, 2006)

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Industry News: Aging Workforce Hits Pest Control Advisers

The aging workforce is hitting another industry, this time suggesting that the "graying of America is on a collision course with the feeding of America." Harry Cline, writing in the Western Farm Press reports that members of the Western Plant Health Association heard recently that this network of state-licensed Pest Control Advisers--who monitor and recommend pest control measures--are mostly baby boomers facing retirement and that there are few young people now in the profession to replace them.
Terry Stark, executive director of the California Association of Pest Control Advisers, said a survey of CAPCA’s 3,100 members revealed that almost 40 percent of its members are over 55. Only 17 percent are 44 or younger. Thirty-five percent are 45 to 55.

Twenty-five percent of CAPCA members have more than 30 years experience. Over half have more than 20 years of experience.
While suggestions include promoting and rewarding teamwork and an open-door to management, emphasis was placed on college recruiting and introducing young people to California agriculture in high school and elementary schools.

Source: Western Farm Press "Pest control adviser workforce aging, dwindling" (October 31, 2006)

IT and the Generation War

Deborah Rothberg, writing for eWeek, reports that a new report by Forrester Research analyst Phil Murphy argues that the, by now, almost conventional wisdom--"The old guard is soon to retire, few want to join the new guard, and skilled workers are only getting harder to come by."--is both irresponsible and wrong.

In fact, the "recent sentiment among bloggers and pundits . . . that mature workers should get out of the way, as IT belongs to the twenty-somethings, is destructive--by fanning the flames of this underlying rift--and potentially illegal, if older workers are actually cast away on account of their age."
The report also eschews what it sees as a prevalent belief that old dogs cannot be taught new tricks, arguing that it is more likely that they haven't been given the opportunity to, as only a few organizations strive to enrich their older employees, "worried that they won't be around long enough to pay back their investment."
The full Forrester Research report is available for $249: "CIOs: Avoid War Between IT's Twentysomethings And More Mature Workers"

Source: eWeek Channel Insisder "Research: IT Generation Gap Overblown" (October 30, 2006)

Monday, October 30, 2006

New Zealand: Report Reveals Bias Against Older Workers

Research commissioned for the Human Rights Commission shows that 25-year-olds are six to twelve times more likely to be short listed than 55-year olds for human resource positions and six to ten times more likely to be short listed for sales positions.

The study--"Barriers to entry for the older worker"--carried out by Professor Marie Wilson of the University of Auckland Business School and graduate student Jordan Kan looked at barriers for entry into employment for older job applicants in three sectors--sales, HR administration, and nursing.
In discussions with potential employers during the research the key factor that differentiated older and younger employees was the assumed flexibility and adaptability of younger workers. The youngest applicants were described as "trainable", easy to "get up to speed" and "go-getters". Applicants aged 40 were described as "settled" and older applicants were described as "set in their ways".

One employer responded to three similar applicants differentiated by age only in the following way - he invited the youngest applicant in for a chat about whether he wanted to train for the post, the middle aged candidate was told his "experience was not relevant" and the 55 year old candidate was told his "qualifications didn't meet the requirements of the company" despite no qualifications being specified.
Source: New Zealand Human Rights Commission News Release (October 29, 2006)

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Canada: Survey Finds Age Biggest Source of Discrimination in Hiring

A survey of Canadian employees conducted by Kelly Services has found that age has become the biggest source of prejudice. According to an article on the survey in The Globe and Mail, the survey found that 14.6% of respondents said they'd faced age discrimination when applying for a job, with that figure rising to 63.6% among those aged 55 and older.
The age discrimination result is troubling because there have been continuing efforts to ban it through legislation and human resources policies in workplaces, says Judy Cutler, director of government relations for Canada's Association for the 50-Plus (CARP).

The results show that attitudes have not caught up with the reality that Canada is facing a crisis as older workers leave the work force, and not enough younger workers are coming up through the ranks to replace them, she says.
Source: Globe and Mail "Ageism top bias in job hunt, poll finds" (October 25, 2006)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Survey: European Business Give Training Priority over Adapting Rewards to Older Workforce

According to a survey conducted by Mercer Human Resource Consulting, 16% of European employers surveyed are planning to increase their investment in base salary rises in 2007, while 58% say they will spend more money on training and career development initiatives for their staff. Furthermore, just 11% of companies felt that adapting their employee rewards packages to meet the needs of an ageing workforce was an important challenge.
Mr [Peter] O'’Malley [Principal at Mercer] commented: "It is surprising that companies are not more concerned about adapting their rewards programmes to suit older workers. Many organisations rely heavily on the skills that their older, more experienced staff bring to the workplace, yet the rewards packages they offer do little to engage these employees."
Source: News Release (October 17, 2006)

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

United Kingdom: Conservative Party Leader Calls for Greater Attention to Older Workers

David Cameron, the leader of the Conservative Party, called for a profound culture change in the way the United Kingdom population thinks about the elderly, backed by a revolution in social responsibility in the way we behave towards older people. Speaking at Age Concern meeting in London, he emphasised that retirement should be seen more as a gradual process:
Retirement used to be a luxury for a lucky few - a few brief years of inactivity between work and death. But now a long life after 65 is the norm. And yet we still hold on to the idea of retirement at 65. You work at full pelt right up to the wire--then you stop altogether. It doesn't make sense anymore. We need to see retirement as a process, not an event--a slope, not a cliff - then we will realise the potential of older people. Older people need to be able to shift gradually from full-time economic activity into other things.
Source: Conservative Party "Social responsibility and our ageing population" (October 23, 2006)

Related News: Politics.co.uk "Cameron bids for grey vote" (October 23, 2006)

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Survey: Most Workers Consider Age Irrelevant at the Office,

According to a survey conducted by OfficeTeam, 84% of workers polled said they would be comfortable reporting to a manager who is younger than they are and 89% said they wouldn'’t mind supervising employees older than themselves.
"“For the first time in history, four generations of employees are in the workforce, from the Silent Generation and baby boomers to Generations X and Y,"” said Diane Domeyer, executive director of OfficeTeam. "“Companies recognize the benefits of having diverse, well-rounded teams, and employees may be just as likely to report to a younger supervisor as an older one. In either case, the boss'’s management abilities are more of a factor in employee job satisfaction than his or her age."”
Source: OfficeTeam Press Releae (October 5, 2006)

Related News: The Ithaca Journal "Businesses seek to bridge generation gaps in management" (October 20, 2006)

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Survey: SHRM Finds Mixed Views on Older Workers

According to the results of a Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) online poll, while older workers often are viewed as not keeping up with technology as well as other age groups in the workforce, HR professionals value the experience and mentoring they bring.
The value of older workers continues to rank high in some areas, the poll found, but the perceived advantages they bring ranked lower than three years ago. On the bright side, many of the disadvantages ranked lower than they did three years ago.
As for advantages of older workers, 71% of those surveyed recognized the "“invaluable experiences"” older workers bring to the workplace, 64% said older workers serve as mentors for those with less experience, 61% said older workers may be more willing to work part time or seasonally to fulfill labor-on-demand needs, and 60% said older workers were more reliable,

On the other side, where the numbers were much smaller (24% said there are no disadvantages), 49% said these employees do not keep up with technology, 38% said older workers cause expenses, such as health care costs, to rise, and 23% said older workers are less flexible than younger workers.

Source: SHRM Online "Will you desire 'em, will you admire '’em, when they'’re 64?" (October 16, 2006)

Monday, October 16, 2006

New Hampshire: Employers Unprepared for Aging Workforce

AARP New Hampshire has released a study showing that New Hampshire businesses are largely unprepared for the potential labor shortage and loss of institutional knowledge that will occur as the state'’s workforce ages. "Preparing for an Aging Workforce: A Focus on New Hampshire Employers" found that six in ten employers believe their business is likely to face a shortage of qualified workers in the next five years. However, only one in ten have taken steps to prepare for this shortage.

In addition to measuring the extent to which employers have implemented approaches to keep mature workers, the survey also examined the relative importance of employee qualities and the degree to which mature employees possess these qualities. The results show that most of the qualities the mature workers already possess are the top-rated qualities that businesses believe employees should have to meet the needs and culture of their organizations.

Source: AARP New Hampshire Press Release (October 13, 2006)

Related News: Manchester Union Leader "Value older workers, employers urged" (October 14, 2006) Reports on New Hampshire Forum on the Future session on the aging workforce.

Europe: European Commission Issues Communication on Aging Workforce

According to a Communication from the European Commission, Europe's ageing population is an unprecedented challenge for the whole of society, but it is a challenge to which Europe must rise to, and must rise to it now. "The demographic future of Europe --– from challenge to opportunity" stresses that this challenge underlines the ability of member states to meet the challenges of a shrinking workforce and an ageing population, and it suggests that the keys to success are the promotion of demographic renewal, more jobs and longer working lives, higher productivity, integrating migrants and sustainable public finances.

In particular, the Communication sets out five areas for concrete action to help states adapt to demographic change in their own national context:
  • Helping people to balance work, family and private life so that potential parents can have the number of children they desire;
  • Improving work opportunities for older people;
  • Increasing potentially productivity and competitiveness by valuing the contributions of both older and younger employees;
  • Harnessing the positive impact of migration for the job market
  • Ensuring sustainable public finances to help guarantee social protection in the long-term.
According to Vladimír Špidla, Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities, "It is important that member states give a strong signal to businesses and citizens to change their expectations and attitudes, particularly in the labour market."

Source: Commission of the European Communities News Release (October 12, 2006)

Japan: Tripartite Committee Looking at Reemployment of Older Workers

Clement Mesenas, writing for TODAYOnline, reports that a tripartite team, comprising officials from the government and employer and employee groups in Japan is studying implementation of legislation to re-employ retired workers.
"We want to study the effects of legislation which was introduced in Japan in April--the hiccups, teething problems and all which have cropped up in the last six months," NTUC's director of industrial relations, Ms Joanne Cham Hui Fong, told Today in an exclusive interview.
The Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers, chaired by Minister of State for Manpower Gan Kim Yong, is expected to release a final report early in 2007.
If a re-employment scheme is introduced, it will apply to those 62 and above. Under current legislation, companies cannot retire someone at 60, but workers working until 62 do so with a wage cut of up to 10 per cent.

"The bigger issue we are dealing with today is how to promote the employment of older workers above 50 and the reemployment of retired workers beyond 62. Then we will have achieved the purpose of raising the effective retirement age," said Ms Cham.
Source: TodayOnline "Still a workforce to be reckoned with" (Octbober 16, 2006)

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Multigenerational Workforce: An American Visits New Zealand

"What'’s happening today in New Zealand may very well be coming soon to a theater near you, if it hasn'’t already arrived," writes Tony DiRomualdo after speaking at and attending the Human Resources Institute of New Zealand Conference ("Living the Future Today") in September.

In his view, New Zealand is exacerbated by a shortage of workers throughout the country and "has no choice but to find creative ways to make its current workforce more productive, keep people in the workforce longer, and lure back people that have left." Thus, his interest, in particular, in one panel discussion with representatives of the four generations in the workplace--"a fascinating look at their different workplace perspectives and career aspirations."

Source: Wisconsin Technology Network "An upside down view of the future" (October 11, 2006)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Portugal: Pension Reforms Will Penalize Early Retirement

News reports indicate that Portuguese state pensions are to be indexed to the country's economic performance and average life expectancy under new pension and welfare reforms announced Tuesday. While the official retirement age is to stay at 65, any increases in the country's average life expectancy will trigger a reduction in the amount paid out so the entitlement can be spread over a longer period. In addition, anyone taking early retirement will have their pension cut by up to 6%.

According to the Associated Press report on the changes, "workers can choose to offset possible reductions by increasing the amount they pay into the social security system while still in employment or by working beyond 65." In addition, business confederations representing industry, agriculture, services and tourism that had initially balked at employing older workers agreed to the changes as the government warned that the alternative was higher corporate taxes.

Source: Business Week Online "Portugal pension system to be reformed" (October 10, 2006)

Australia: Government Announces Skills Program that Will Benefit Older Workers

According to press reports, Australian Prime Minister John Howard is announcing a skills package program that, among other things, will let less skilled older workers be eligible for a $3000 education voucher.

Source: Melbourne Herald Sun "$3000 vouchers to boost jobs" (October 12, 2006)

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Speakers Address Generational Differences in the Workplace

Speaking to business leaders at the fifth annual Futurist Conference, sponsored by the Hunterdon County Chamber of Commerce, about how employers can adapt to different generational values and avoid an awkward working environment, Eric McNulty, managing director of conferences for Harvard Business School Publishing, said "the change is the nature of the work itself."

As reported by Brandon Lausch for the Courier News< "McNulty said scholars and business leaders are now paying attention to generational differences in the workplace for two primary reasons: an increasingly diverse--and aging--workforce and a projected shortage of 10 million workers by the end of the decade that will force businesses to maximize talent."
Those in attendance said the fight to retain talented employees rests on older, more experienced employees feeling valued by mentoring young workers. Other solutions to bridge the generation gaps included flexible work arrangements and benefits when needed, fresh assignments and increased feedback, especially for younger workers.
Source: (Bridgewater, NJ) Courier News "Forum addresses generation gap at work" (October 7, 2006)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Addresses the Aging Demographics

Federal Reserve Board Chairman Ben S. Bernanke
spoke before The Washington Economic Club on "The Coming Demographic Transition: Will We Treat Future Generations Fairly?" He said that viewing the demographic change from a broader economic perspective "shows clearly that adequate preparation for the coming demographic transition may well involve significant adjustments in our patterns of consumption, work effort, and saving."
Ultimately, the extent of these adjustments depends on how we choose--either explicitly or implicitly--to distribute the economic burdens of the aging of our population across generations. Inherent in that choice are questions of intergenerational equity and economic efficiency, questions that are difficult to answer definitively but are nevertheless among the most critical that we face as a nation.
His remarks went on to demonstrate that the question is how the burden of an aging population is to be shared between our generation and the generations that will follow us and to point out that a failure to prepare for the changes will have substantial adverse effects on the economic welfare of the United States and its citizens.

Source: Federal Reserve Board Remarks by Chairman Ben S. Bernanke (October 4, )2006

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

EBRI Publishes Detailed Look at U.S. Retirement System

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has published Retirement Security in the United States: Current Sources, Future Prospects, and Likely Outcomes of Current Trends, an in-depth book on the U.S. retirement system and how it may change in the future.
Among other things, it examines the changing pattern of retiree income across the age spectrum, the additional amounts that today’s workers need to save to retire with sufficient funds to meet basic living expenses, and the amounts that workers with pensions would need to set aside to compensate the benefit loss if their pensions were frozen.
Source: EBRI Press Release (September 22, 2006)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Attracting Older Workers with Hearing Benefits

Writing for the Employee Benefit News, Molly Bernhart wonders "why are hearing plans such a forgotten benefit while dental and vision coverage is considered standard?" She quotes Terry Portis, Ed.D., executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America, as saying "If a company is interested in valuable employees effectively communicating, then hearing benefits should be one of their first considerations in considering health and wellness."
The Better Hearing Institute says there will be a continued increase in the baby boomer and the 75-years-or-older bracket in the coming years. The Institute expects the hearing-loss population to grow by one-third and up to 40 million people within a generation.

Baby boomers are often considered one of the most motivated and skilled segments of the employee population. To retain older workers, companies are expected to begin offering hearing benefits to accommodate older workers along with more flexible work schedules.
Source: Employee Benefit News "Hearing benefits could be music to employee ears" (October 2006)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Europe: Commission Issues Report on Ageing and Employment

The European Commission has published a report about what can be done to increase job opportunities for older people and to keep them in employment. "Ageing and Employment--Identification of good practice to increase job opportunities and maintain older workers in employment" reflects on good practice, identifies key factors and recommends actions that can be taken at EU, national, company and individual levels. The study also gauges the success of the European Employment Strategy, one objective of which is to extend the working lives and increase the employment rates of older workers.

The research involved selecting, from 11 EU countries, 41 company case studies across a mix of economic activities in the public and private sectors. An analysis followed into (1) the strengths and weaknesses of the national institutional framework within which these organisations operate and (2) selected good practice in initiatives undertaken by social partners, NGOs and national or regional policy-makers. "While some companies consciously developed an age management programme, many pursued interesting approaches to achieve the same thing without a strategy as such."

Source: Commission of the European Communities News Release (September 13, 2006)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Europe: Workers Believe Employers Are Age-biased

According to a Monster Meter poll, 46% of workers across Europe believe their organisations discriminate against older workers when it comes to looking for new recruits. "Norwegians lead the way in terms of a balanced view, and Germans observed the highest percentage of discrimination against older workers when looking for new recruits."
“The issue of age discrimination is a hot topic within the recruitment world,” comments Alan Townsend, COO for Monster UK and Ireland. “From the initial job posting right through to the HR handbook, organisations must be mindful that they are not discriminating against any potential recruits based on their age. Having a workforce that is age diverse is an indicator of good practice within a company. Furthermore, as we head towards the ’knowledge economy’ the more experienced employee brings a superior level of understanding and a richer skill set - which benefits the company as a whole.”
Source: Onrec.com"Almost Half of European Workers Believe Their Organisations Discriminate Against Older Workers" (September 29, 2006)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Survey: Working After Retirement: The Gap Between Expectations and Reality

According to a Pew Research Center survey, more than three quarters of today's workers (77%) expect to work for pay even after they retire and, of those, most say it's because they'll want to, not because they'll have to. However, the Pew report--Working After Retirement: The Gap Between Expectations and Reality--suggests that these expectations are dramatically out of step with the experiences of people who are already retired.

Pew reports that just 12% of retirees are currently working for pay (either part or full time), and another research organization shows that just 27% of them have ever worked for pay while in retirement. Pew also shows a disparity between the age at which today's workers say they plan to retire and the age at which today's retirees actually did retire, with the average worker expecting to retire at age 61, while the average retiree actually retired at 57.8.

Source: Pew Research Center Social Trends Report Summary (September 20, 2006)

Hospitality Industry: Dealing with the Aging Worforce Crisis

Brecca Loh and John R. Hendrie, writing in Hospitality.net, suggest that the biggest challenge facing the hospitality industry in the next five years is not "designing the Guest Room of the Future, building the most extraordinary mixed-use resort facility, identifying the dining trends of the rich and famous or creating the next terrifying yet exhilarating theme park ride." Rather, just like in health care, the industry will be stuck, "all competing for that rare commodity--reliable labor."
There will be "“Wars for Talent"”, and you must adapt your philosophies to retain older workers and attract new talent. Those who win the battles will be those wrested in progressive workforce development strategies. You do not have to be a huge corporation to make ready, but you will need to target your workforce and maximize your human capital. We know this argument is unpleasant for many in a labor intensive business, but this is the reality. Choose or close!
They suggest that employers must change direction, philosophy, and operation to deal with this. Among other things, they need to be more competitive in attracting and retraining new employees, create performance incentives, and build management-employee relationships.

Source: Hospitality Net "A Crisis So Immediate And Obvious, You May Have Already Missed It" (September 27, 2006)

Older Workers: 12 Reasons To Hire Them

Stephen Bastien, writing for Entrepreneur.com suggests that older workers may answer the quest of employers "employees who are honest, responsible, dependable, loyal, focused, organized and mature." He outlines 12 reasons why hiring older workers can help employers "maintain a reliable, dedicated workforce and provide a significant cost savings for both the short and long term."

Specifically, he suggests that older workers are (1) dedicated, (2) punctual, (3) honest, (4) detail-oriented, (5) good listeners, (6) take pride in a job well done, (7) organized, (8) efficient and confident, (9) mature, (10) set an example for other employees, (11) communicate well, and (12) reduce labor costs, since many already have insurance plans from prior employers or have an additional sources of income and are willing to take a little less to get the job they want.

Source: Entrepreneur.com "12 Benefits of Hiring Older Workers" (September 20, 2006)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

United Kingdom: Workers Fear that Employers Won't Hire Them at 65

Nearly a third of respondents to a survey conducted in the United Kingdom for Help the Aged believe that employers will not want to hire older workers, despite new laws designed to prevent age discrimination in the workplace coming into force on 1 October. According to the poll carried out by GfK NOP, a majority of people think ageism is widespread in British industry and 25% of people approaching retirement age thought ageism would prevent them from working beyond 65.
Kate Jopling, Senior Policy Manager at Help the Aged, says: ‘Despite the Government passing new laws to protect older workers, many people simply don’t believe that British bosses will hire them once they reach 65. Employers need to realise that just because someone has reached a certain age, it doesn’t mean they aren’t fit for work. In fact, our survey shows that 80 per cent of people consider older workers to be more loyal and dedicated than many other age groups in the workplace.
Source: Help the Aged News Release (September 22, 2006)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Study: Most Organizations Not Prepared for Talent Shortage Fueled by the Retirement of Baby Boomers

Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc., has released a whitepaper finding that most organizations, particularly larger ones, are not ready for the pending talent shortage caused by the looming retirement of 78 million workers age 55 and over. The paper--"Managing Talent in the Face of Workforce Retirement" (available free with registration)--summarizes key findings of Knowledge Infusion's "2010 Talent Readiness Assessment," which indicates, among other things that:
  • Organizations with more than 2,500 employees indicated that approximately 1 in 5 workers are over the age of 55;
  • Over 50% of respondents said the retiring workforce will cause a knowledge/skill gap; and yet
  • Less than 30% of organizations who responded had a retention plan in place.
Adam Miller, President and CEO, Cornerstone OnDemand, said: "Companies need to proactively assess their organizations and determine a plan of action before this threat becomes a reality. Understanding the overall goals of the organization and which employees are key to achieving these goals including their role, skills and level within the company is important to implementing a retention plan."

Source: MarketWire Press Release (September 25, 2006)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

NASA and Astronautic Engineering: Aging Workforce in Space Industry

Reporting from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics's (AIAA) Space 2006 Conference, Robert Lemos writes that NASA's corps of engineers that designed, built and maintained the space shuttle are reaching retirement age.
"The average age of my civil servants is 49 and we only have nine people under the age of 30," said S. Peter Worden, director of the NASA Ames Research Center, who jokingly added: "Then I talked to Google and they only have nine people over the age of 30."
In fact, for all aeronautic and astronautic engineers, the average age of AIAA membership in now in the low 50's. Lemos reports that Lockheed Martin has began several initiatives to try to transfer knowledge from the older, experienced engineers and technical staff to the younger hires, including mentoring programs in which a young engineer is assigned to a senior mentor and ones that sponsor occasional roundtable classes between a senior engineer and younger staff, focusing on specific technical problems and how to solve them.

Source: Wired News "NASA Fights Premature Graying" (September 21, 2006)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Online Job Sites for Older Workers

Diane E. Lewis, writing for The Boston Globe, discusses new job sites for "tapping into the graying segment of the labor market that's not quite ready to retire." Featuring an interview with the owner of RetirementJobs.com, she also identifies similar sites for helping connect older workers and employers that may want to hire them.
[RetirementJobs.com] certifies employers as ``age friendly" before they can post job vacancies by requiring firms to fill out a survey of a dozen questions about their recruiting practices, training, benefits, pay, and corporate culture. The human resource departments of companies whose answers indicate a genuine interest in hiring older workers must participate in another round of interviews, conducted by RetirementJobs.com's 12-member staff, to establish that their firms offer benefits and flexible scheduling options that appeal to older workers.
Source: The Boston Globe "RetirementJobs.com website caters to those who aren't ready to retire" (September 11, 2006)

Monday, September 18, 2006

United Kingdom: Unions Endorse End to Mandatory Retirement

The Trades Union Congress conference backed a motion to amend the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations to stop people over 65 being fired because of their age. Under the age regulations that come into effect in October, older workers will have new rights in employment, but over 65s can still be forced to retire against their wishes and employers will still be able to refuse to hire someone over 65.
Sally Hunt, joint general secretary, University and College Union said: "All workers, regardless of their age, should be treated with respect and be fully protected by employment rights. It is the role of the union to fight for those rights and to protect their members. Today unions have sent a clear message that they will not stand for age discrimination."
Source: AgeConcern News Release (September 14, 2006)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Canada: Retired Persons Association Becoming Advocate for Hiring Older Workers

Daniel Drolet, in his weekly Ottawa Citizen column on retailing, writes about how hiring older workers may be the solution to the growing labor shortage for retail businesses. Judy Cutler, director of government relations for CARP, says "We have older workers who want to work. Why not embrace their expertise?"
In many ways, retail sales jobs seem perfect for aging workers who crave social interaction, don't want a full-time job, like the idea of being able to leave for a few months to go south in winter, and who, if they have pensions, don't necessarily have to worry about the benefits.

However, Ms. Cutler says embracing older workers is going to require a change in attitude on the part of employers.

"People still have trouble getting jobs because of their age," she said, adding that these days, an older worker is anyone over the age of 45. "We hear from people who are cutting their resumes in half to make it look like they are not old enough to have done everything they have done."
CARP now devotes part of its website to helping older workers find jobs. "We're not advocating for mandatory employment," said Ms. Cutler. "We don't expect that all older workers will want to work. But I'd like to see more inter-generational interaction and activity. I think it's part of a holistic approach to accepting the aging population.

Source: Ottawa (CA) Citizen "Older workers could be new answer to labour shortage" (September 15, 2006)

Accomodating Older Workers: Health & Safety

Writing in the Occupational Health & Safety publication of the Alberta, Canada, Human Resources & Employment department, Nordahl Flakstad focuses on what smart employers are thinking about how they can actively recruit and retain older workers.
Typically, an employer needs only to introduce minor and inexpensive adjustments to working environments and procedures to better accommodate older employees. employees. For example, there may need to be changes to lighting, the positioning of workstations or tool and equipment design.
In addition to providing some quick guides for work site accomodations with respect to vision and lighting, hearing and sound, and griop and handling, the article also references "Safe and Healthy: A Guide to Managing an Aging Workforce," a 44-page booklet developed by Alberta Human Resources and Employment to help managers and supervisors, some of whom are decades younger than their older employees, to better appreciate and respond to the challenges faced by aging workers.

Source: Alberta (CA) Occupational Health & Safety "Accomodating the Aging Workforce" (September 2006)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Corporate Practice: How One Company Uses the Older Worker Advantage

Vita Needle Company in Needham, Massachusetts, describes how 95% of its 35 workers in production are part-time senior citizens. An interview with three of the seniors and with a senior manager shows how the company manages to be productive, while allowing, for example, workers to pretty much set their own hours.

Source: TheMatureMarket.com "The Older Worker Advantage: Making the Most of an Aging Workforce" (September 13, 2006)

U.S. Labor Department Releases 2006 National Saver Summit Report

The U.S. Department of Labor has released the final report of the 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings. The report, entitled Saving for Your Golden Years: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities identifies barriers to retirement savings confronting low-income workers, small business employees, new entrants to the workforce, and individuals nearing retirement. The summit delegates, who met in March 2006, worked on action plans for target populations to raise awareness about retirement planning and offer new programs, policies and ideas to help them adequately save for retirement.

With respect to the challenges faced by workers nearing retirement, delegates came up with a number of suggestions for programs to heighten awareness of possibly inadequate savings, improve older workers’ ability to catch up on savings, take measures to deal with rising healthcare costs, and facilitate phased retirement. Among these were:
  • Lifetime Accumulation: Change the tax code that limits tax-deferred annual contributions to retirement
    savings accounts to lifetime limits on contributions.
  • Change Rules to Reflect Shifting Paradigms: Establish regulations to incorporate some of the best
    features of defined benefit plans—-automatic enrollment, default options—-into defined contribution plans.
  • Product Bundling: Remove the regulatory impediments to bundling products like annuities and long-term care insurance.
  • Flexible Work Training (for Managers): Provide training to managers who are willing to hire seniors, focusing on the design, implementation, and appropriate target audiences of flexible work arrangements.
  • Retiree Health Security: Offer retirees greater financial security by providing protection against two of the biggest threats to retirement security: runaway healthcare costs and gaps in retiree healthcare coverage caused by bankrupt, closed, or
    financially strapped businesses that discontinue or reduce retiree health benefits.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor News Release (September 7, 2006)

Monday, September 11, 2006

American Management Association Identifies Corporate Concerns about Aging Workforce

The September 2006 issue of the American Management Associations's Moving Ahead includes an article by Theresa Welbourne, Ph.D., reporting on the results of an extensive Leadership Pulse study focusing on the "AWF"--the "aging workforce." The survey found that of 369 respondents--from general managers to C-level executives, 43% report that an AWF will affect their organizational culture, only 24% did not; in addition, 42% felt the AWF would affect the quality of their talent, while 26% reported little or no concern of this.

And after reviewing the qualitative data, the researchers identified three major areas of concern:
  • Culture Change--"some view this as a strategic opportunity to reshape their organizational culture in a new and desirable direction."
  • Knowledge Gap--"As older employees leave, their talent, knowledge, deep relationships and extensive, on-the-job training exits with them. These are elements that simply cannot be replaced through the hiring of recent college graduates."
  • Leadership Gap--"Respondents were also concerned about the loss of leadership knowledge, skills and abilities." However, again, others view upside of the situation, by bringing a welcome opportunity for new leadership.
Source: American Management Associaton "Strategies for Dealing with the Challenges and Opportunities of America’s Aging Workforce" (September 2006)

Survey: US Labor Department Employee Tenure Data Shows Job Tenure Lengthens with Age

The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.0 years in January 2006, unchanged from January 2004, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Not surprisingly, older workers tend to have more years of tenure than their younger counterparts: median tenure for employees ages 55 to 64 was 9.3 years in January 2006, about three times the tenure for workers ages 25 to 34 (2.9 years).

Information on employee tenure has been obtained from supplemental questions in the Current Population Survey (CPS). every 2 years since 1996In data As would also be expected, a larger percentage of older workers than younger workers had 10 or more years of tenure. For example, among wage and salary workers ages 55 to 59, about half were employed for 10 years or more with their current employer, while among workers ages 30 to 34, about 11% have 10 or more years of tenure, and for workers ages 25 to 29, the proportion was about 2%.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release 06-1563 (September 8, 2006)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Staffing Companies: Poised to Make Money on the Aging Workforce?

Morningstar.com has taken a look at how an older workforce might create some investing opportunities in the staffing industry. Citing a report from IDC, a global provider of industry information, that about 19% of the entire U.S. workforce holding executive, administrative, and managerial positions will retire in the next five years, Morningstar suggests that this might bode especially well for executive search firms.

Among other things, Morningstar suggests that the aging workforce may cause companies to rely more heavily on firms with strong networks of relationships and to pay more for talent, given supply constraints.

Source: Morningstar.com "The Inside Scoop on Staffing Companies" (August 25, 2006)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

South Africa: Paper Calls for Increasing Age Diversity in Advertising Industry

Paula Sartini, a founding member and managing director of Espial Go-to-Market, has called on the South African advertising industry to apply the same diversity standards for the generational as it has for the racial divide. She argues that "a diverse workforce, both from a racial but also from an age perspective, makes for more effective communication that ultimately resonates with all possible target markets."

Among other things, she notes that the average age in advertising agencies is significantly lower than in traditional organisations. This results in not just A lack of experience, but a lack of emotional intelligence. Putting "unseasoned employees into positions of authority too quickly robs them of the opportunity to develop the emotional competencies that come with time and experience--competencies like the ability to negotiate with peers, regulate their emotions in times of crises, or win support for change."

Source: MarketingWeb "Managing age diversity in the advertising industry" (September 4, 2006)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

South Korea: Aging Scientists Brought on Board To Help Smaller Firms

According to an article by Park Bang-ju, in the JoongAng Daily, under a South Korean government program, "small and medium-sized companies in Korea are getting the chance to harness the experience and know-how of scores of recently unretired scientists." Specifically, it reports that the Science Ministry has announced yesterday the names of 79 scientists to be brought out of retirement and of 79 companies where they will work. "Scientists who had worked at a state research facility for 20 years or more were invited to apply via the Internet for posts as technical advisors."

Source: JoongAng Daily "Elders get last hurrah at small domestic firms" (September 5, 2006)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New Zealand: Summit on Older Workers Held

New Zealand government, business, and union leaders held the Employment of the Older Worker Summit in Wellington on September 4. The Summit was called by the Retirement Commissioner, Diana Crossan, and the EEO Commissioner, Dr Judy McGregor, and aimed to develop practical strategies and actions to increase the number of older workers at a time of growing skills shortages.
“New Zealand will need around 100,000 more people at work in the next twenty years just to stand still and yet older people are often the last to be considered or suffer covert discrimination,” Dr McGregor said.

“We believe that businesses need to be thinking about their age profile and about retaining their mature staff. Baby boomers approaching retirement should be also considering whether they want to continue in paid work and what might make them stay,” Dr McGregor said.
Source: Human Rights Commission Press Release (September 3, 2006)

Other Materials: Click here for materials from the summit.

Friday, September 01, 2006

AARP Announces 2006 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

In releasing its list of the 2006 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50, AARP says that enlightened employers are making strategic business decisions in addressing the needs of an aging workforce by increasingly providing flexible work arrangements that accommodate the schedules of the employees and their families.

The top finisher was Mercy Health System of Janesville, Wisconsin, which offers "numerous flexible options, including weekend-only work, nursing "float" options (work at different facilities and or departments), work-at-home opportunities, 'seasonal work' programs that allow staffers to go on leave for extended periods while maintaining benefit eligibility, and on-call assignments that involve a limited number of hours per month that can be expanded and/or contracted based on the employee's availability."

The well-known employers in the top 50 include Volkswagen of America, Inc., Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Principal Financial Group, and Busch Entertainment Corporation. Their offerings include full and part-time employees flex time, compressed work schedules, job sharing and telecommuting, phasing into retirement with part-time work, and retiree work opportunities, inclduing offering temporary work assignments, consulting work, and telecommuting.

Source: AARP Press Release (August 30, 2006)

Additional Resources: "Healthy look at retaining older workers" Chicago Tribune article on Mercy Health System (August 31, 2006)

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Survey: Nursing Management Reports on Aging Workforce and Nursing Shortage

According to Medical News Today, the July issue of Nursing Management features an exclusive "Aging Workforce Survey" of nearly 1,000 nurses that demonstrates the lack of comprehensive strategies designed to retain aging nurses. The complete Survey along with retention recommendations can be purchased online.

Among other things, the survey reports that more than 55% of the (mostly) managers who responded to the survey will retire between 2011 and 2020, combined with a rising exodus of nurse employees during the same time and that the operating room and postoperative anesthesia care unit have the oldest employees and are therefore at the highest risk for a staffing crisis.

Source: Medical News Today "Nursing Management's Aging Workforce Survey Finds Lack Of Retention Strategies May Escalate Nursing Shortage" (August 31, 2006)

EEOC Issues Proposed Regulaton Permitting Employers To Favor Older Individuals

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a proposed regulation under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to reflect a Supreme Court decision interpreting the ADEA as permitting employers to favor older individuals because of age. Under a prior regulation, overturned by the Court in 2004, the EEOC prohibited any age-based preference between persons age 40 or over, regardless of whether the treatment favors older or younger persons.

However, the Supreme Court rejected claims that favoritism toward older workers violated the ADEA and concluded Congress only intended "to protect a relatively old worker from discrimination that works to the advantage of the relatively young." Accordingly, if adopted after notice and comment, the final EEOC regulation will state:
Favoring an older individual over a younger individual because of age is not unlawful discrimination under the Act, even if the younger individual is at least 40 years old.
In addition, the EEOC regulations will be revised with respect to advertising to provide that "employers may post help wanted notices or advertisements expressing a reference for older individuals with terms such as over age 60, retirees, or supplement your pension."

Source: Federal Register Notice of proposed rulemaking (August 11, 2006)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Switzerland: Employer Group Counsels Firms on Keeping Older Workers

According to a report in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Rudolf Stämpfli, president of Schweizerischer Arbeitgeberverband--Switzerland's main employer group, has called on companies to extend the working lives of older employees to guarantee their retirement. At a news conference addressing aging issues, Stämpfli said that employers and society as a whole need to show greater flexibility over the question of Switzerland's ageing workforce and be more aware of the qualities of older workers.

Among other things, the employer group believes that companies' human resources strategies should be properly adapted to the older workforce. In addition to improving the counselling of employees throughout their careers, it recommends introducing alternative employment practices, including a flexible retirement age and part-time work.

A copy of Stämpfli's remarks at the press conference are available in both German and French.

Source: Neue Zürcher Zeitung (English) "Employers urge greater focus on older workers" (August 29, 2006)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

EBRI Report Shows that Regular 401(k) Savers Doing Well

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI) have jointly issued a report showing that the average account balance among U.S. workers who consistently held 401(k) accounts from 1999 through 2005 increased 50% despite one of the worst bear markets since the Great Depression.

According to the study--“401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2005”--average account balances rose to $102,014 at year-end 2005 from $67,785 at year-end 1999 among participants who maintained accounts for the entire period.
“The data demonstrate the power of persistence and the impact it has on an individual’s ability to accumulate sizeable gains in a 401(k) account,” said ICI Senior Economist Sarah Holden, a co-author of the study.
The average account balance for consistent participants in their 60's rose nearly 12% over the same period.

Source: Employee Benefits Research Institute Press Release and Investment Company Institute Press Release (August 24, 2006)