Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Survey: New England Employers Not Ready for Replacing Aging Workforce

A survey conducted by the Northeast Human Resources Association (NEHRA) reports that over 85% of all firms did not have a recruiting strategy in place to offset the impending retirement of the baby boomers from the workplace, and only 5% responded that they did have a plan in place. In addtion, the NEHRA's e-Survey on the Aging Workforce shows 83% of respondents as not having a formalized plan to retain retirement-eligible workers. Of the 7% that reported having one in place, 74% reported flex-time was the best tactic to retain these workers, with job sharing ranked second at 26%, and telecommuting third at 40%.
"We are already facing a talent shortage in the New England area, and with the retirement of the baby boomer generation at hand, it will only get worse," advises Dan Henry, Chairman of the Board of NEHRA. "We hope these findings help generate some serious discussions and solutions for local businesses before any real crises occur."
Source: Northeast Human Resources Association "Aging workforce a challenge for most firms in the region, NEHRA survey says" (July 23, 2007)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Canada: Analysis of Age and the 2006 Census Released

According to Statistics Canada, data from the 2006 Census shows that the number of seniors aged 65 years and over surpassed the 4-million mark for the first time and that the working-age population (15 to 64 years) is becoming increasingly older. As a result, the proportion of senior citizens has increased from 13.0% in 2001 to 13.7% in 2006--an increase that can be seen at the national level as well as in every province, territory and census metropolitan area (CMA) in the country.

In addition, the report--"Portrait of the Canadian Population in 2006, by Age and Sex, 2006 Census"--shows that there are barely enough young people entering the working age group to replace those approaching the age of retirement--between 2001 and 2006, the population aged 15 to 24 increased by only 5.3%; for each person leaving the working age group, there was just over one individual entering it.

Source: Statistics Canada The Daily (July 17, 2007)

Book Review: "Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life"

Most baby boomers aren’t ready psychologically and far more often aren’t set economically to stop working entirely, writes Vince Carducci, and Marc Freedman is getting a bead on the situation and offers a solution in his new book "Encore: Finding Work that Matters in the Second Half of Life."

According to Carducci, Freedman considers that the trend of corporations shedding older employees and slashing payroll and benefit costs is creating a tremendous waste of human capital. While he goes through policy issues that are underlying this trend or contributing to the problems, he also profiles individuals who are part of the solution. In particular, he focuses on career shifts and "highlights several innovative programs that give an idea as to how we might usher in what he terms the 'encore society.'”
Wonks will debate these and other proposals Freedman puts forth, but average readers will no doubt be most interested in the self-help section at the end of the book. Freedman provides a self-reflection matrix—Are you a “recycler,” leveraging your past experience to enter a new field? Or, are you a “changer” looking to start anew? Are you a “maker,” trying to mold an interest into a career, turning an avocation into a vocation? Whatever your persuasion, Freedman offers online resources, networking ideas and other tips to help you follow your bliss in a more well-managed way.
Source: PopMatters.com "Work, the Sequel" (July 17, 2007)

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Maine: Paper Industry Facing Aging Workforce

According to a story by Colin Hickey for the Kennebec, Maine, Morning Sentinel, paper company executives are losing sleep contemplating that the industry--the largest manufacturing sector in Maine--will have 2,200 workers turn 63 within the next 10 years. "They know paper does not get produced without skilled people."

Unlike some other industries that may be facing such issues, the paper industry's problems are compounded because of perceptions that it is a dying industry:
[Mike] Barden of the Pulp & Paper Association acknowledges that this is the central question the industry faces.

"It is still that public perception (of a dying industry)," he said. "It is trying to overcome that. The reality is I just don't see the industry going away. I think there will always be an industry here."

Bill Cohen of Verso Paper, which has mills in Bucksport and Jay, confirms that the paper industry faces a labor challenge.

"It is harder to recruit, because of the perception that it is a dying industry," he said. "That is one thing we have to overcome. We are not dying; we are continuing to reshape."
Hickey reports on efforts by the industry to raise enrollments in Maine programs that are the principle sources for new recruits.

Source: Kennebec Morning Sentinel "Graying workforce a problem for paper industry" (July 15, 2007)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

India: Older Workers Beng Ignored in Economic Boon? A Commentary


Ravi Srinivasan, writing in the Hindustan Times, suggests that "India’s absurdly low retirement age of 58" means that by 2010, one-fifth of India’s current workforce ("from shop-floor workers to top managers") will be out of the workforce. Even though India has had a demographic drawing card--its vast supply of young workers entering the workforce, Srinivasan reports on recent surveys that show that several industries in India are already facing moderate to severe talent shortage.
“Opening the doors to older workers is a major benefit…it will help organisations retain knowledge and experience, widen the recruitment base and could lead to more customers and greater profits,” commented Soumen Basu, executive chairman, Manpower India.
Thus, "looking beyond those grey hairs makes sound business sense." Otherwise, in a few years, India may have found itself "untutored and fertile" over "educated and aging."

Source: Hindustan Times "India’s overlooked ‘grey market’ workforce" (July 12, 2007)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Indiana: Employers Unprepared for Aging Workforce

Few Indiana employers are taking concrete steps to manage the transition as the baby boom generation begins to reach retirement age, according to a report published by the Center for Aging & Community at the University of Indianapolis. Even though employers recognize that their workforce is getting older, the survey of over 400 employers showed that many organizations seem unconcerned about the aging of the workforce and are not adapting HR practices to manage the resulting employee turnover.

In Gray Matters: Opportunities & Challenges for Indiana's Aging Workforce, Phase II: A Workplace Conundrum, the Center surveyed employers about their understanding of the ongoing demographic shift, any preparations they are making to deal with the changes, and their perceptions about employee loss and its impact on their operations. It also "onvened an expert panel of business, government and education representatives to discuss trends in the state and national workforce. The panelists agreed that intergenerational issues will have increasing impact in the workplace, and that the ideal employee--regardless of age – will be resilient, intellectually agile and responsive to change, with a broad foundation of knowledge, skills and abilities."

Among other recommendations for workers, employers, policymakers, educators, and trainers, the Center encourages employers to prepare for the future workforce by:
  • conducting a skills audit of their organizations to
    determine the core competencies essential for business success now and in the future;
  • understanding the skills needed and who possesses them or where there are training needs within the organization;
  • developing the agile worker for the new economy, with the ability to move between projects and embrace the changing technologies; and
  • educating managers in ways to manage a multi-generational workforce.
In the first part of the study issued in 2006--Gray Matters: Opportunities & Challenges for Indiana's Aging Workforce, Phase I: The Aging Matrix, the Center analyzed nationwide data to assess the level of demographic change in each state and the extent to which older residents were active in the economy and community life.

Source: University of Indianapolis’ Center for Aging & Community News Release (July 9, 2007)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Recognizing Four Stages of Age in the Wokplace for the Multigenerational Workforce

According to a new paper published by the Center on Aging and Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston College, in response to the age demographics of the 21st century workforce, employers have started to consider how age diversity can offer both opportunities as well as challenges to “getting the work done well.”

Authored by Center Directors Drs. Michael A. Smyer and Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, "The 21st Century Multi-Generational Workplace," the paper suggests that there are four different ways to look at age in the workplace and each can prompt different responses:
  • Age: "Using the perspective of chronological age helps employers to answer the questions, 'How does typical adult development affect the performance of young adult employees, employees at mid-life, and older employees?'”
  • Generation: "Looking at age from the perspective of generation can be a helpful, short-hand way to factor-in historical events or culture that may have a long-lasting impact on a specific age cohort."
  • Life Course: This "perspective focuses attention on individuals’ 'personal histories' in the context of the wider social-historical-cultural context."
  • Career Stage: Not all employees experience careers as a steady upward progression, so that employers can "engage employees in conversations about the next opportunities appropriate for their careers-–regardless of the employee’s age."
In conclusion, Smyer and Pitt-Catsouphes offer this advice to employers:
The effective management of a multi-generational talent pool requires that employers are able to adjust their thinking so that they can make appropriate use of the four paradigms of age . . . . Each of these helps employers to ask different questions and to think about different strategies for harnessing the experiences of all their employees.
Source: Center on Aging and Work/Workplace Flexibility
Issue Brief No. 9 (June 2007)

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Health Insurance's Impact on Employment of Older Workers

According to a new paper published by the Center on Aging and Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston College, health insurance costs are one factor that affects employer's employment decisions: "When faced with expensive healthcare, employers may cut back on hiring older workers, but not reduce their wages." On the employee side, older men in cities where health care costs are higher are more likely to stay in the workforce than retire; however, people with higher outside health care costs are not more likely to be employed, suggesting that employer decisions may be an influence.

The principal investigator of the paper--"Does Health Insurance Affect the Employment of Older Workers?"--was Joanna Lahey, Ph.D., an assistant professor at the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University. Among other things, she also investigated how state health mandates can be driving up some of these health costs. As for the options for employers, Lahey suggests:
As firms try to control the effect of rising health care costs on their bottom line, they will discover options other than decreasing employment. For instance, they can change their workforce composition and increase their use of part-time jobs that do not offer insurance benefits. Older workers with other sources of insurance benefits may find this option attractive. Firms may also consider hiring fewer workers for more hours.
Source: Center on Aging and Work/Workplace Flexibility Issue Brief No. 8 (June 2007)

Monday, July 02, 2007

Older Cancer Survivors Pull Their Weight in Workplace

According to a new medical study, "cancer survivors between 55 and 65 years old who remain cancer-free for two to six years after diagnosis are as likely to be working as their peers who have not had cancer." However, those people recently diagnosed with new cancers are less likely to be working.

As published by Health Services Research, the article--"Long-Term Effects of Cancer Survivorship on the Employment of Older Workers"--by Pamela Farley Short, Joseph J. Vasey, and John R. Moran concludes that "survivors with recurrences or second primary tumors may particularly benefit from employment support services and workplace accommodation. Reassuringly, any long-term effects on the employment of cancer-free survivors are fairly small."

In the cancer-free group, 63.4% of men and 51% of women in the surveyed age group were working full-time; among the cancer survivors who had no new cancers, 55.8% of men and 50.9% of women were working full-time. Short, director, Center for Health Care and Policy Research, and professor of health policy and administration and demography at Penn State, said that "What this is saying is that there is every reason to believe that survivors will continue to be productive workers and will stick with their employer."

Source: Penn State News Release (June 27, 2007)