Sunday, November 29, 2009

Study: Generational Differences at Work More Matter of Perception than Reality

Differences among the generations in the workplace--Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y--are more about perception than reality, with each viewing other generations more harshly than they view their own. However, according to a Conference Board of Canada study, the generations are more alike than they realize.

The report--Winning the Generation Wars: Making the Most of Generational Differences and Similarities in the Workplace--is based on a literature review as well as a survey of over 900 workers. According to the report, negative stereotypes of the three generations include:
  • Boomers are seen as less comfortable with technology, less open to change, and less accepting of diversity than other generations;
  • Generation X workers are seen as cynical, independent, and easily annoyed by any hint of being micro-managed; and
  • Generation Y workers are seen by older colleagues as lazy, difficult to manage, and perpetually prepared to bolt from the organization as soon as another opportunity arises.
Tim Krywulak, Senior Research Associate, said that “This research shows each generation includes workers with similar personality types, workplace motivations, and social behaviours. Workers from all three generations want respect, flexibility, fairness, and the opportunity to do interesting and rewarding work.” Employers should manage the differences in perceptions among the generations while recognizing the cross-generational similarities in workplace preferences, by, among other things:
  • implementing programs, policies and practices that respond to the cross-generational desires for respect, flexibility and fairness in the workplace;
  • building a culture of inclusion to address the negative stereotypes about the generations in the workplace; and
  • learning from effective practices used by other organizations.
Source: Conference Board of Canada News Release (November 16, 2009)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Research Suggests Employers Need to Shape Workplace to Fit Health Needs of Older Workers

Published results of an investigation of 14,714 employees from the French national gas and electricity company, the GAZEL cohort, for up to 7 years before and 7 years after retirement, has found that suboptimum health increased with age, but that between the year before retirement and the year after, the estimated prevalence of suboptimum health fell from 19·2% to 14·3%, corresponding to a gain in health of 8—10 years. However, people with a combination of high occupational grade, low demands, and high satisfaction at work showed no such retirement-related improvement.

The researchers note in their article "Self-rated health before and after retirement in France (GAZEL): a cohort study" published in The Lancet that they conducted the investigation since governments need to increase the proportion of the population in work in most developed countries because of ageing populations. The results led them to conclude that the burden of ill-health, in terms of perceived health problems, is substantially relieved by retirement for all groups of workers apart from those with ideal working conditions, and that working life for older workers needs to be redesigned to achieve higher labour-market participation.

According the report, a poor work environment and health complaints before retirement were associated with a steeper yearly increase in the prevalence of suboptimum health while still in work, and a greater retirement-related improvement. However, only about 2% of workers were in the "ideal" circumstances of having a combination of high occupational grade, low demands, and high satisfaction at work.

Sources: Medical News Today "Better Working Conditions And Job Satisfaction In Order To Keep Older Workers In The Workforce (GAZEL Study)" (November 9, 2009); eZonomics "Late is the new early for retirement" (November 18, 2009); Reuters Blog "Health and the older worker" (November 19, 2009)

A parallel report on the sleep habits of these workers was published in the journal Sleep. According to that article, retirement is followed by a sharp decrease in the prevalence of sleep disturbances, likely resulting from the removal of work-related demands and stress rather than from actual health benefits of retirement. The postretirement improvement in sleep was more pronounced in men, management-level workers, employees who reported high psychological job demands, and people who occasionally or consistently worked night shifts.

Source: ScienceDaily "Sleep Disturbances Improve After Retirement" (November 2, 2009)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Business Week Publishes Special Report on the "Unretired"

Business Week has published a special report exploring how--with the financial crisis having forced people to postpone, rethink, or come out of retirement--retaining this talent pool brings both opportunity and challenges for companies. The report includes:Source: Business Week Special Report: How to Manage "Generation Unretired" (November 17, 2009)

Eight Organizations Honored for Helping Older Workers into Encore Careers

Civic Ventures and MetLife Foundation have named eight organizations as winners of the 2009 Encore Opportunity Awards awarded to organizations that are making it easier for experienced workers to transition into encore careers--paid jobs that offer meaning and the chance to make a social impact. Among other things, the winners are engaging people over 50 in creative ways to protect public safety, build low-income housing, teach job skills, preserve the environment, and even save dying Native American languages.
"This year's Encore Opportunity Award winners are innovative, adaptable and smart – and clearly recognize the need to take advantage of the windfall of talented older Americans," said Dennis White, CEO and president of MetLife Foundation. "These trailblazing employers can serve as a model for others to follow."
On the employment front, the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Department (Lawrenceville, Ga.) was cited for its recruitment and employment of encore workers to fill jobs at all levels; one-fourth of the it's civilian and sworn work force is over 50, coming from previous careers in government, retail and business. In addition, the Orleans Technical Institute (a division of JEVS Human Services (Philadelphia)) was cited for hiring retirees from the building trades as instructors to provide training and individualized support to an "at-risk" student population; more than half of the school's employees are 50-plus, including full- and part-time instructors, support staff, recruiters and counselors.

Source: Civic Ventures Press Release (November 17, 2009)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Survey: Employers Still Not Prepared for Boomers Leaving Workforce

Even though millions of Baby Boomers are poised to age out of the workforce, companies in the United States remain unprepared for their departure and the "imminent talent desert that promises to alter the productive capacity of business and disrupt the national economic landscape," according to a report issued by Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College. In particular, 68% of the 696 organizations surveyed do not yet know how old their workers are or what proportion is likely to retire, while 40% stated that the aging of the workforce will have a detrimental impact on their organization in the next three years.

The 2009 Talent Management Study: The Pressures of Talent Management also reports that:
  • 77% of employers surveyed had not analyzed projected employee retirement rates or assessed employee career plans;
  • 56% had not assessed the skills their organizations need today and into the future; and
  • 30% reported not having enough programs for recruitment, and 35% not enough for training of older workers.
The study's authors note that while the aging population will affect companies differently, the long-predicted workforce desolation has generated surprisingly limited responses. Baby Boomers represented the largest portion (48%) of the U.S. labor force in 2000, but this is estimated to decline to 37% by 2010, leading some economists predict labor shortages of 10-15 million in the coming decade.
“The out-migration of an entire generation of workers will upset the entire balance of the workplace,” said Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Director of the Sloan Center on Aging & Work and report co-author. “Knee-jerk reactions to today’s challenging economic reality aside, US companies need to start planning strategically for workforce sustainability. The current abundance of older worker talent and experience is going to dry up, and businesses will very soon need to fill hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.”
Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College News Release (November 17, 2009)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Singapore: Tripartite Guidelines on Re-Employment of Older Employees Released For Public Consultation

Singapore's Minister for Manpower and Chairman of the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers are inviting public consultation on a new draft Tripartite Guidelines for Re-employment of Older Employees that is aimed at preparing businesses and employees for re-employment legislation come 2012. This is an updated expansion of the advisory issued in April 2008, incorporating feedback from both employers and unions.

Among other things, the draft guidelines provide practical advice on good re-employment practices, including:
  • giving employers the flexibility to employ and retain older workers beyond the minimum statutory age of 62;
  • offering practical solutions to help employers put in place the necessary systems and processes for re-employment, such as pre-retirement planning and re-employment consultation, job arrangements for re-employment, adjustments to wages and benefits, and the offer of employment assistance payment (EAP); and
  • encouraging older workers who are adaptable and skilled to continue to work and contribute to the society.
The public may provide feedback and views on the draft guidelines via the Consultation Channel in the REACH portal by December 18, 2009. The tripartite partners expect to finalize and release the guidelines early next year. Source: Ministry of Manpower Press Release (November 16, 2009)