Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Aging Population Could Stall Economic Development in New Hampshire and New England

According to a report prepared by Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies, New England’s aging population could stall economic development and job growth in the future and the numbers are particularly significant in New Hampshire, which the report indicates has a larger and more rapidly growing share of the older population.

Released as part of The New England Council’s Older Worker Initiative, the report forecasts, among other things, that from 2005 to 2015, about 90% of the net increase in the size of the New Hampshire resident working age population will be from among those aged 55 or above and that the share of persons in the working age population of teens and young adults will fall by 2% and that of older prime age workers (ages 35 to 54) will decline by 6%.
“As the baby boom generation enters retirement age, New England employers will become increasingly dependent on older workers – those aged 55 and above – to meet the demand for skilled workers. The ability to retain and recapture these older workers in the labor force will be critical to the long-term economic prosperity of the region,” said James Brett, president and CEO, of The New England Council, the nation’s oldest regional business organization.
Source: The New England Council Press Release (January 31, 2007)

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Urban Institute Research Assess Impact of Raising Social Security Retirement Age

Research from the Urban Institute's Retirement Policy Project looking into proposals that would raise the age at which workers can first receive Social Security retirement benefits suggests that lifetime benefits for all groups would be lower, but less so for those with lower lifetime earnings and less education. However, it would push more retirees into poverty: raising the age to 69, for example, would increase the share of retirees with incomes below the wage-indexed poverty level in 2050 from 14.4% under the current system to 16.2% percent, an increase of 1.5 million people.

The Urban Institute's research is included in five separate research briefs. One--"How Long Do Boomers Plan to Work?" by Gordon Mermin, Richard W. Johnson, and Dan Murphy--finds that as boomers approach retirement, "they intend to work longer than people born a dozen years earlier did, a shift that will help promote economic growth and partly offset the economic pressures created by an aging population." Among workers ages 51-56 in 2004, 51% said they expect to work past age 62, up from 47% among comparable workers in 1992.

The other four reports are:Source: Urban Institute Press Release (January 30, 2007)

Monday, January 29, 2007

Survey: Older Workers Have Fewer Injuries, but Greater Costs per Injury

According to a survye conducted by National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. (NCCI), on average, younger workers have higher incidence rates of workplace injuries and illnesses than older workers, while older workers have higher costs per claim. As the leading edge of the baby boomer generation approaches age 60, the aging of the workforce has grown as a topic of interest in workers compensation. However, NCCI's research shows that age may be becoming less of a difference. Specifically, the survey--"Age as a Driver of Frequency and Severity"--found, among other things, that:
  • while age is an important factor in overall claim costs, the significance of age on frequency has diminished;
  • a significant portion of the differences in claim severities between younger and older workers were accounted for by other factors correlated with age—average wages, claim durations, lump-sum payments, injury diagnoses, and number of medical treatments;
  • differences in wages and claim durations accounted for a majority of the difference in indemnity severities between younger and older workers; and
  • the key driver explaining about 70% of the difference in medical severities between younger and older workers is the markedly higher number and different mix of treatments within a diagnosis.
Source: National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc. News Release (January 25, 2007)

Survey: Tenure Rather than Age Major Factor in Workplace Enthusiasm

According to a survey conducted by Sirota Survey Intelligence, the differences one finds at work between older and younger people are largely a result of tenure--not age, thus, debunking, according to Sirota, the myth that there are major differences between generations in what people want from their jobs.

Sirota examined the overall satisfaction expressed by 64,304 workers in employee attitude surveys the firm conducted for their employers. Both younger (aged 25-34) and older (55 and older) employees showed a sharp decline in their satisfaction from their first year of employment--from 69% in both cases to 54% and 53%, respectively, among those with 2 to 5 years’ experience.

Source: Sirota Survey Intelligence News Release (January 22, 2007)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

European Year for Equal Opportunities for All Launches

The 2007 European Year for Equal Opportunities for All (EYEO), which kicks off in Berlin on January 30th at the first ever Equality Summit, launched its website and published the results of an EU survey on anti-discrimination. The survey--Special Eurobaromter: Discrimination in the European Union--highlights that awareness of the existence of anti-discrimination laws (on grounds of sex, ethnic or racial origin, age, sexual orientation, disability, religion or belief) is still relatively low in the EU.

Among other results, the survey shows that a broad majority of Europeans believe that being over 50 (69%) is a disadvantage in their society, and many also believe that more people over 50 (72%) are needed in the workplace.
When it comes to getting a job, disability and age are the two main factors which Europeans believe put people most at a disadvantage. Close to 8 out of 10 respondents feel that with equivalent qualifications, a person aged 50 or over stands less chance when it comes to employment or promotion compared with a person aged under 50, and similarly a disabled person compared with an able-bodied person. Many respondents (68%) believe that, for women, family responsibilities are an obstacle to accessing management positions. Support for this view is particularly strong in Spain and Germany (both 76%).
Source: Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities News Release (January 23, 2007)

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Recruiting: Web Sites for Attracting Baby Boomers

A posting on the ere.net's Inside Recruiting blog discusses how some niche job boards and staffing agencies are helping a growing number of companies in trying to penetrate the boomer demographic to fill key staffing shortages and maintain a competitive edge. These incclude:
  • The Refirement Group, which works to help redefine the attitudes and expectations of the boomer workforce through workshops and consulting.
  • Continuing Careers.com, a niche job board, which posts jobs and directs applicant to the company's website.
  • The Boomer Group, a staffing company that matches boomers looking for either part-time or full-time work with employers who need experienced help.
Source: Inside Recruiting "Catering to the Boomer Crowd" (January 26, 2007)

Friday, January 26, 2007

United Kingdom: Flexibile Retirement and Pensions

Age Positive has issued a news release stating that, since the pension provision of the United Kingdom age regulations came into force on 1 December 2006, concerns have been expressed with regards to flexible retirement not being adequately covered by the regulations or accompanying guidance. In particular, points have been raised about the ability of employers and schemes to alter accrual or payment in the light of working beyond normal retirement age. According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), this is a complex and developing area and it intends to examine whether it is possible to provide greater certainty where flexible retirement and pensions is concerned.

In conjunction, Age Positive has published a report--Flexible Retirement: A Snapshot of Employer Practices 2006--produced for DWP by Employers Forum on Age (EFA) and IFF Research Ltd. The findings include a practical guide (a checklist) for employers who may wish to take advantage of the rule changes in order to deliver flexible retirement options for their employees. In addition, it the report includes a small number of case studies illustrating how some large employers developed (or are in the process of developing) flexible retirement policies.

Source: Age Positive News Release (January 17, 2007)

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Canada: Minister Appoints Expert Panel to Study Labour Market Conditions that Affect Older Workers

Monte Solberg, Canada's Minister of Human Resources and Social Development, has announced the appointment of an expert panel to study labour market conditions affecting older workers. The Panel will look at potential measures to help older workers, including improved training and enhanced income support, such as early retirement benefits.
"The fact is that seniors and older workers have helped build this country," said Minister Solberg. "Our population is ageing and we are facing labour shortages. Now is the time to look at issues faced by older workers and make sure that they have the knowledge and tools they need to contribute to a strong Canadian work force."
The objective of the panel is to undertake a feasibility study on older workers as outlined in Budget 2006: "...conduct, in partnership with provinces and territories, a feasibility study to evaluate current and potential measures to address the challenges faced by displaced older workers, including the need for improved training and enhanced income support, such as early retirement benefits."

The panel, chaired by the Honourable Erminie Cohen, a retired Senator, is to provide a report on various matters outlined in a background statement, along with recommendations on potential government and stakeholder actions, to the Minister by the summer of 2007.

Source: Human Resources and Social Development News Release (January 23, 2007)

Paper Establishes Index for Age Bias in the Workplace

RetirementJobs.com, a web destination for people aged 50 plus, has published a research paper based on results from the company's ongoing online survey of mindsets and practices of employers and 50 plus workers related to real and perceived age-bias. According to "Age Bias in the American Workplace: A "Fact of Life" Enters Its Own Phased Retirement", employers are three times more likely (36%) to report that "age bias is declining" compared to only 12% of workers, while 96% of workers believe age bias to be a problem, a smaller number, 77% of workers "actually have experienced or observed" workplace age bias, and only 17% of employers are believed to be making "a conscious effort to attract workers 50 and over."
"Workplace age bias is undergoing its own phased retirement," says Tim Driver, CEO of RetirementJobs.com. "Older employees are electing to work longer than planned. Employers, meanwhile, increasingly understand the merits of retaining and hiring workers that connect with customers, are dedicated, turn over less often (than younger employees), and hold valuable lessons learned from their prior careers." The report cautions that a symbiotic worker/employer relationship is "vital in healthcare, retail, customer services, sales, financial services, the crafts and trades, engineering, skilled manufacturing, the sciences, education and in government. These areas are already experiencing a shortage of workers while also facing large numbers of retirements in the next several years."
In its paper, RetirementJobs.com has established the an Age Bias Index to serve as a barometer by which developments in the status and perceptions of age bias among employers, employees, and the general population may be measured.

Publication of the paper also coincides with RetirementJobs.com's clarion "call to action" to confront and reduce workplace age bias.

Source: Retirementjobs.com Press Release (January 23, 2007)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Study: Graying of Workforce May Be Leading to Graying of Health Insurance

According to study, published in the November-Decemer 2006 issue of Health Affairs,, trends are leading to the "graying" of the employment-based health insurance system, where older, higher-income people get private health insurance, and others increasingly have public coverage or go without.

According to Patricia Keenan, Ph.D., lead author of the article and assistant professor at the Yale School of Public Health, “Older, more affluent people are more likely to keep their employer-based coverage as premiums rise while others increasingly get public coverage or go without altogether. . . . Population aging combined with declines from rising premiums could further destabilize the employment-based health coverage system.”
She said private coverage has been in a slow decline since the late 1980s and younger and lower-income groups have disproportionately lost coverage. Keenan said even if the population with employment-based coverage remains quite healthy, costs of coverage could increase as the average age of people with group coverage rises.

Although the main driver of rising premium costs is ongoing changes in medical technology, Keenan said, there is the possibility that population aging will interact with ongoing differential declines in group coverage to add to ongoing increases in premium costs.
Full text of the article "The ‘Graying’ Of Group Health Insurance" is available for purchase online.

Source: Yale School of Public Health News Release (January 5, 2007)

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Survey: Vanguard Research Shows Continued Work Figures Large in Retirement Planning

The Vanguard Group's The Vanguard Center for Retirement Research has published "Six Paths to Retirement", which highlights the importance of financial preparation and saving in determining the transition from work to retirement: While those with the financial resources look forward to possible paths with a flexible work arrangement or no work at all, for those who are short on retirement savings, work in some form will play an important role in helping close the savings gap.

The report is based on both a quantitative survey of some 2,500 adults age 40 to 69 and on in depth interviews with 38 men and women, age
40 to 75. From the larger survey, Vanguard reports 6 in 10 Americans say that their retirement plans include part-time or full-time work, with "downshifting" being a common strategy for making the transition from work to retirement--that is, older workers shift to less stressful or simpler jobs before stopping work entirely. From both parts of the research, Vanguard identified six paths to retirement among Americans 55 and older:
  • Early retirees: 29% retired early. In most cases, this group had pensions and high savings balances.
  • Work and play: 12% left full-time work in their 50s, but immediately set up their own companies or took on high-level, part-time jobs. They largely enjoy their work and want to stay active.
  • Still Working: 35% of workers moved to part-time or self-employment in their 60s. They tend to have lower financial resources, and often lack a pension.
  • Returnees: 5% stop working, typically in their 50s, and then are forced to return to the work force, sometimes because of a financial shock like the death of a spouse.
  • Spouse's retirement: 9%. Often married women in excellent health, they follow their husband into retirement in their 40s and 50s.
  • Never retire: 10%. The majority say they do it to meet basic living expenses.
Source: News Release The Vanguard Center for Retirement Research (January 17, 2007); Associated Press "Retirees Work for Fun or Necessity" (January 18, 2007)

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Research Suggests Older Female Employees Less Likely To Receive Training Help

According to research conducted by Dr. Almuth McDowall, professor of occupational psychology at the University opf Surrey, employees who are female and over 50 are more likely to miss out on training opportunities in the workplace than younger male employees because HR managers see older women as offering a poor return on investment.

McDowall presented experienced HR managers in 48 companies with a series of fictional vignettes to test out their decision-making when allocating funding for training and development. When asked to allocate a notional budget of £6000 across four employees and justify their decisions, the characters in the scenarios who were female and over 50 received far less of the available budget than younger male characters; the HR managers justified their decisions in terms of older employees and women being less "investment-worthy" perceiving them to offer a lower return on investment.

In presenting her initial results to the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology Annual Conference, McDowall was quoted as saying "HR managers simply do not recognise they are discriminating against older workers but there is a clear bias towards younger workers when it comes to training." In addition, Richard Smelt, group HR director at Carphone Warehouse, responded with surpise: "I certainly can't see HR managers deliberately discriminating against older workers, but maybe there's a perception that older employees will be more expensive and difficult to train."

Source: Press Release British Psychological Society (January 12, 2007); Personnel Today "HR believes older staff offer 'lower return on investment' in training" (January 16, 2007)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Overcoming Intergenerational Differences in the Workplace

Writing in Jugglezine about how the generations are going at over work protocols, Matt Viland notes that while the employees of today's workforce--who range in age from under 21 to over 65--can bring a variety of perspectives together, bridging generational differences can be quite a challenge. Under the previous paradigm, young folks held entry level jobs and old folks did the managing. Now, as a result of orporate mergers and downsizing, workforces have redistributed and hierarchies have changed--"Older folks, laid off from previous jobs, began seeking entry level positions after switching careers. Younger folks, considerably cheaper than their elders, rose to the top. The result: a generational melting pot."

Viland points to workplace communication as perhaps being the most obvious difference among the generations. Cam Marston, president of Marston Communications, points out that older employees prefer face-to-face contact, while younger generations embrace less personal options such as e-mail, text messages, and instant messenger. Other differences can be found in work style:
Traditionalists and Baby Boomers, for instance, are accustomed to a workday that revolves around the hours of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Gen Xers and Millenials, on the other hand, might take three or four hours of personal time in the middle of the day, but log on from home after dinner and put in the hours they missed.
According to Viland, the first step to overcoming these differences (and others, such as language) is to raise awareness about the things that make each age group unique. This can be done by incorporating age sensitivity into more comprehensive diversity training efforts. Another way to overcome the gap between generations is to embrace it by adopting programs such as reverse mentoring, through which younger employees coach older ones on technological innovations.

Source: Jugglezine "Mixing it Up" (January 10, 2007)

Singapore: Study Shows Employers Prefer To Train Younger Employees

According to an article in Today by Lee U-Wen, a recent study by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) shows that older workers are being looked over in training opportunities, with companies, instead, prefering to train their younger, more nimble workers.
"This is ... due to the higher opportunity cost or the narrower time horizon of reaping the benefits out of the training programme," said the report, the most extensive study since MOM first tracked training participation back in 2000 and involved some 2,400 people.
Singapore Human Resource Institute executive director David Ang, one of several HR experts interviewed, suggests that companies should give priority to the rank-and-file workers, especially those caught in the web of structural unemployment; the older they get, the less their opportunity for training, but they need the skills more than anyone else so as not to remain stagnant.

Source: Today "Older workers overlooked" (January 12, 2007)

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Safety Engineers Include Aging Workforce as Top Focus for 2007

In reviewing 2006 and looking ahead to key issues facing the safety profession in 2007, American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) President Donald S. Jones Sr., P.E., CSP, of Plaquemine, LA, noted that the aging workforce, nanotechnology, a possible flu pandemic, disaster preparedness and response, and doctoral programs in safety are among key concerns for ASSE and its members.

With respect to the aging workforce, Jones notes that employers and safety health and engineering professionals must recognize and meet the needs of the changing workforce. To accommodate the changing dynamics in an ongoing effort to reduce fatality rates, businesses should design a safe workplace for the aging workers which could include improving illumination, adding color contrast; eliminate heavy lifts; design work floors and platforms with smooth and solid decking while still allowing some cushioning; reduce static standing time; remove clutter from control panels and computer screens and use large video displays; reduce noise levels and much more.

Source: American Society of Safety Engineers Press Release (December 29, 2006)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Australia: Researcher Looking at Improving Retention of Older Workers

According to Megan Tones--a Queensland University of Technology PhD education researcher who is researching the patterns of learning and development amongst older workers and the type of organisational support that might improve retention rates, Australia's economy cannot afford to have large numbers of older people not working. However, Australians can't wait to leave the workforce once they hit 50 causing a looming labour shortage and the dashing of government hopes that people will work into their 70s.
"It is not just the labour shortage and cost of paying pensions to people for 30 years or more, it is also the fact that people who are engaged in enjoyable work have fewer physical and mental health problems thus reducing health spending," Ms Tones said.
She suggests that the hardest-hit sectors will be education, health and community services, mining, agricultural, forestry and fishing, utilities and transport. Among the reasons for the exodus of older workers she cites are ageist and unsupportive workplaces, easy access to income support through private pensions from 55 onwards, and "quite lax" requirements for the disability support pensions.

Source: Queensland University of Technology Press Release (January 4, 2007)

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Japan: "Silver" Workers Seen as Solution for "2007 Problem"

Chisa Fujioka, wrting for Reuters, reports on the growing demand for "silver" workers as Japan's population ages. Shigeo Hirano, president of staffing agency Mystar 60 Corp.--which specializes in finding jobs for those aged 60 and over, says "Japan's best engineers and technicians are leaving factories and offices for retirement."
"Companies are realizing that hiring the elderly is the only way to retain high levels of skills and expertise," added Hirano, himself a sprightly 63.

Fears of a labor crunch and a deficit of skilled workers are growing in Japan as baby-boomers start hitting the standard retirement age of 60 this year, in what Japanese media have dubbed the "2007 problem".
Another major staffing agency reports that both the number of elderly seeking work and the number of companies wanting to hire them have doubled since April 2006.

Source: Reuters "Greying workers wanted for hire in aging Japan" (January 1, 2007)

Norway: First Senior-only Temp Agency Opens

According to a report from Norwegian Broadcasting, Norway has started its first manpower service drawing solely on the resources of older workers. Seniorformidling is the name of the unique bureau that only links employers with workers over the age of 50.

Founder Tor Kristian Johansen says: "Older job seekers often experience being put at the back of the applicant queue, and fall to the wayside because of their age." More and more companies are contacting the senior manpower service, which confirms an emerging trend towards using experienced workers to fill temporary gaps.

Source: Aftenposten "Senior service" (January 2, 2007)