Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Research: Healthcare Industry Facing Exodus of Older Workers

According to research conducted by Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, health care employers can expect a large-scale exodus of older workers in the forthcoming years, increasing the need for skilled workers. According to "Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Responsive Action Steps for the Health Care & Social Assistance Sector", authored by Stephen Sweet, PhD and Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, PhD, the health care sector’s demographic profile is disproportionately composed of older workers, but health care enterprises report engaging in significantly less assessment of their workforces.
Our analysis reveals that many health care sector employers have only a limited knowledge of the talent pressures they are likely to face. Their talent management strategies can benefit immensely by understanding factors that could attract replacement workers, stem turnover, and facilitate knowledge transfer. In comparison to other sectors, health care sector employers are more likely to integrate some types of flexible work arrangements in their organizational designs and engage employees in decision-making activities. There is, however, considerable room for expansion. One marker of the need for further development of flexible work options is the extent that employees report work-family conflicts impeding their abilities to engage in work. Additionally, our analysis shows that older workers are attracted to jobs that have flexibility, and that considering alternate work arrangements may be a strategic means of retaining these workers (as well as workers at other career stages) and transferring knowledge between generations. By structuring jobs to match the needs of a diverse, multigenerational workforce, the health care sector can maximize their prospects of securing the best workers who possess the best skills.
Among other things, the report finds that only 29% of healthcare organizations have assessed the age of their workforces (29%), 42% have assessed the skills they anticipate needing, and 48% have assessed the competency sets of current employees, compared to 43%, 54% and 61% of employers in other industries, respectively. However, 62% of employees in the health sector have received formal training from their employers, and 36% are involved in decision-making task forces and 39% self managed teams, suggesting that the sector is at least somewhat aware of the impending skills gap.

Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College Publication News (June 2010)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

United Kingdom: Survey Shows Older Workers Not Planning for Retirement

According to a study released by the Institute for Employment Studies, older workers in the United Kingdom aren’t planning for the future and are confused by what constitutes "the right age" to think about retirement. The study--"Should I Stay, Or Should I Go? Older employees’ later life planning in a business context"--found that the recession has altered the retirement landscape significantly as redundancies and recruitment freezes have led to higher levels of unemployment among the older workers. Among the findings of the study:
  • While some respondents had a clear plan mapped out for the future of their working life and beyond, others, particularly those in their early 50s, seem to have done little in the way of forward planning. When considering retirement, two perspectives frame employees’ thinking. First, the kind of people they are in terms of age, health and family interests; and second, their particular financial and work situation.
  • The individual may no longer be in the driving seat of his or her later life and retirement planning. Older workers are potentially an easy target for companies looking to cut costs, and those losing their jobs cannot afford to take the early retirement as they might have done in financially healthier times.
  • Some older employees are comfortable dealing with the uncertainty and complexity inherent in the later life planning, but a greater number are rather ambivalent about whether to plan in the first place and unsure about the process.
  • Line managers play a key role in supporting older employees’ planning, but they are enabled or constrained by business needs. Some interviewees conveyed a sense of feeling sidelined, watching their employer’s effort to bring in younger employees.
  • Flexible ways of staying on, presented transparently as viable options, can help maintain engagement and a sense of security, as well as retain important skills and experience
According to one of the authors of the study, Marie Strebler, "[e]mployers seem to be stuck in reactive mode. They provide retirement support, however they are failing to encourage people to stay, treating requests on a case-by-case basis and thus missing opportunities to retain much needed and valuable skills."

Source: Institute for Employment Studies Press Release (June 15, 2010)

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Netherlands: Social Partners Look to Raise Retirement Age to 66 by 2020

According to press reports, Dutch social partners have agreed on a flexible retirement age for second-pillar pensions and the state pension AOW by linking them to life expectancy, and the representative organizations of employers and employees said the retirement age should be raised to 66 in 2020, with decisions on further rises being made every five years.
The government, now collapsed, had proposed a rise of the retirement age to 67 in 2025 after earlier negotiations between the social partners broke down.

Under the agreed terms, workers are still allowed to retire at 65, but will receive 6.5% lower benefits, while working longer will entitle them to a 6.5% higher benefit for every additional year.

However, workers who are over 55 at the moment should still be able to retire at 65 for the full AOW benefit, the social partners added.
There are expectations that the agreement will become part of negotiations for a new government coalition after the elections. Further agreement among the employers and employees groups is still needed on increasing the perspectives of older workers on the labor market.

Source: Investments and Pensions Europe "Dutch social partners agree on retirement at 66" (July 7, 2010); Financial Times "Time to rethink wilting Dutch pension funds" (June 6, 2010)

U.S. Civil Rights Commission to Hold Hearing on Age Discrimination and Recession

On June 11, 2010, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a public briefing of experts to examine the impact of the current economic crisis on older workers and whether potential age discrimination by employers contributes to this impact. Since older workers may experience disproportionately greater effects of company downsizing, whether real or merely perceived, the Commission will hear testimony from witnesses analyzing statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics and other sources, on whether older workers are less employed than in earlier years, the duration of unemployment, and whether age discrimination lawsuits have increased during the economic downturn.

Witnesses will also consider the effectiveness of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in enforcing the law, and the effect of recent Supreme Court decisions governing ADEA on age discrimination claims.

Source: U.S. Civil Rights Commission News Release (June 7, 2010)