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)