Sunday, October 31, 2010

United Kingdom: Survey Highlights Reasons for Extending Working Life and Non-age-based Reasons for Ceasing to Work

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has release the results of a survey showing that 41% of employees in the United Kingdom plan to work beyond the state retirement age, compared to 29% who don’t. In addition, the survey of 2,000 workers found that 44% opposed the law giving employers the right to retire employees once they reach their 65th birthday, while just 25% supported it.

Among those employees planning to work beyond the state retirement age, 72% cited financial reasons as a motivation, followed by people’s needs and aspirations to continue using their skills and experience (47%), benefit from social interaction in the workplace (41%), and for self-esteem (34%). In addition, the survey asked the respondents what should guide the extension of working life and 64% cited health, 62% personal performance, and 31% the availability of a suitable job; however, 13% of employees don't believe employers should be able to require people to retire on the basis of any of these criteria.

According to Dianah Worman, diversity adviser, CIPD:
The CIPD, however, warns that employers will need to make sure their people management policies and practices are in mint condition to manage an increasingly age diverse workforce. The prevailing demographic changes, due to people living longer and healthier lives, and an average birth rate that is below replacement level, demand action. Effective and fair performance management across the whole workforce will be critical, as will inclusive and creative approaches to flexible working, to support businesses in meeting their goals. If employers drag their heels in getting to grips with an ageing population and the associated 21st century people management challenges, they will fall behind more progressive competitors in sustaining business performance.
Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Press Release (October 29, 2010)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Research: Wholesale Sector Behind Other Industries in Preparing for Aging Workforce

According to the latest in a series of industry-focused looks at employer preparedness for an aging workforce, researches at Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College note that the wholesale sector reports greater problems associated with shifts in the age demographics of the workforce as compared to other sectors. In "Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Wholesale Sector," the Center reports that, from 2000-2007, the percentage of wholesale workers aged 55-64 increased by 35% compared to 28% in all industries, and employment of wholesale workers aged 65+ increased by 10%, compared to 7% in all industries.

Among other things, the report finds that that many employers in the wholesale trade sector have only a limited knowledge of their workforce, and that a large-scale exodus of workers could leave some employers in this sector with stiff challenges in locating replacement employees. To this end, the report suggests, among other things, that the the aging of the workforce offers employers in the sectoran opportunity to re-vitalize their flexible work options, because older workers express a preference for access to flexible work options.

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

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Survey: Adoption of Social Media at Work by Generations

Gen-Y doesn't have the lock on using social networks at work. According to a survey commissioned by Citrix Online, Gen X workers make up the majority of those who use social networking for business, followed closely by Boomers aged 55 and older, while Gen Y's use of collaborative technology lagged the others. Among the findings by Forrester Consulting, which conducted the survey of 797 "information workers" (anyone who uses a computer for work) evenly split between the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia:
  • Gen Y is least likely to share information via text message (26%, compared to 47% of those aged 55 and older), and least likely to use video conferencing, video chat and web conferencing tools
  • Gen Y is least likely to think meetings are efficient, with only 29% of Gen Y workers thinking meetings used to decide on a course of action are very efficient, compared to 45% of Older Boomers
  • 79% of those aged 55 and over think it's important to have in-person meetings, compared to 65% of Gen Y
Source: Citrix Online Press Release (October 19, 2010)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

United Kingdom: Britons Want To Avoid Boredom and Keep Working

A survey conducted by Friends Provident has found that British workers hope to continue to work past retirement age to keep themselves active and in touch with the outside world. Specifically, 51% of the respondents stated they wish to continue working after they reach the retirement age as a way of staying active, 47% that they will get bored when they stop working, and 43% that they enjoy the social contact that comes from being in a working environment.

Issued as Visions of Britain 2020 series--Ageing and Retirement, the report also found that "Britons have already started to see an end to 'cliff edge retirement' and a steady turn towards phased retirement, this trend will intensify dramatically in the next ten years. By a ratio of two to one the Delphi Panel of experts felt that older workers will seek jobs which carry less responsibility as they wind down to full retirement. Because of this increasing trend, employers in the next decade will have to act swiftly in adapting their businesses and the roles within them for the new breed of older workers."

Source: Friends Provident News Release (October 18, 2010)

Survey: Employers Confront Loss of Skilled Workers and Critical Knowledge with Retirement of Older Workers

Career Partners International(CPI) has released the results of a survey of senior executives and HR executives and managers from 26 countries, finding that 64% thought retiring workers would have a significant impact on their organization, while at least 90% expect retirements to significantly increase the loss of knowledge and expertise. However, the CPI Global Mature Workforce Survey found that only 34% anticipated making changes to employment practices or benefits or make their organization more attractive for current employees or recruits.

CPI says that the sectors most concerned about their loss of competitive edge due to retirements included business services, government, manufacturing and utilities. In addition, it noted that large and small firms had different expectations about the impact of retiring workers, with 73% of large organizations expecting at least a significant impact, while only 59% of small organizations had similar expectations.

In addition to the survey results, CPI has made available a webinar, which has experts presenting their thoughts on the analysis of results, including additional information not previously presented.

Source: Career Partners International News Release (October 7, 2010)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book: Global Aging Spurring Globalization, with Younger Countries Poised For Growth

The New York Times Magazine has published an extensive excerpt from a new book by Ted Fishman (Shock of Gray: The Aging of the World's Population and How it Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation) in which he, looking at aging demographics globally, argues that he pace of global aging is quickened by the speed and scope of globalization, that these intertwined dynamics bear on the international competition for wealth and power, and that the high costs of keeping our aging population healthy and out of poverty has caused the United States and other rich democracies to lose their economic and political footing. Thus, "[c]ountries on the rise amass wealth and geopolitical clout by refusing to bear those costs. Older countries lose work to younger countries."

Among the many examples Fishman offers of how countries are differing in their approaches to aging populations he shows what China is doing to lure the world’s production and capital while its work force is young.
In large part, it does this by denying meaningful pensions and health care to its people today. Not only do the vast majority of elderly Chinese have little more than their meager savings, but today’s workers have pensions so measly as to be irrelevant. To keep the cost of manufacturing in China low for the rest of the world, the young Chinese work force is, for now, rarely provided more than token pensions, health care or disability insurance. In aging, developed countries, older workers with long tenure are usually at their peak in terms of pay and the cost of their benefits. Here in the United States, for example, health care costs for workers who are between 50 and 65 are, on average, almost two times what they are for their peers in their 30s and 40s. When the median age of workers climbs in the United States, so does the cost of insurance their employers must buy for them.
However, Fishman also points out that the United States is not in the same boat as many rich countries where aging populations have taken hold. where balization can take hold with remarkable swiftness. Thus, Japan was one of the youngest countries in the world until around 1950, and now may be the world’s oldest. In contrast, the United States, while subject to the same two big trends of longer lives and smaller families, is aging much more slowly due to the arrival of young immigrants, including millions from Latin America.

Fishman also addresses various aspects of the aging workforce. For the United States, he notes one apparent contradiction: that at the same time that unemployment among older workers is at a peak, the percentage of older people with jobs is also near a high, because more people must work to make ends meet. He also points out that there is a transformation starting of older workers into a giant contingent workforce. He also suggests that looking at what is happening in "older" countries can help inform where the United States is heading:
In Japan, retirees from the biggest companies are well provided for, but for many of the rest — workers at smaller companies, the self-employed — the fear of outliving their money is real. One in five elderly Japanese lives in poverty. So the Japanese stay on the job when they can. Since 2006, the number of Japanese still working after the customary retirement age of 60 has risen by more than 11 million. Most are officially retired but are back at their companies, under contract. They typically earn about half their former wages.
Source: New York Times Magazine "As Populations Age, a Chance for Younger Nations" (October 14, 2010)

Canada: Chamber of Commerce Issues Call for Action on Aging Workforce

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has released a call for concerted action by governments, the wider business community and other stakeholders to address the problem of Canada’s aging workforce. According to "Canada’s Demographic Crunch: Can Underrepresented Workers Save Us?", a rapidly aging population and workforce will pose a challenge for Canada’s business competitiveness and economic well-being.

The report makes practical recommendations on how best to meet and overcome that challenge. Specifically, the Chamber believes that a multipronged approach, with the aim of replenishing the skilled workforce and boosting labour productivity is needed. Among other things, the Chamber recommends that Canada draw far more extensively on underutilized sources of labor within its borders-young people, older workers, the Aboriginal population and people with disabilities-as well as attract the best and brightest immigrants. To boost labour productivity, Canadian businesses must invest in capital equipment and new technologies and integrate efficiency-enhancing innovations into their operations.
“Many companies and sectors are already facing shortages of the talented people they need to remain competitive and grow,” says [Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce]. “The grave concern for Canada’s business community and the well-being of Canadians is that workforce shortages are expected to increase within the present decade as the baby boomer generation retires in droves. The time to act is now.”
Source: The Canadian Chamber of Commerce News Releases (October 14, 2010)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Singapore: Study Finds Older Workers Want Flexibility, Employers Reluctant to Hire

Singapore's Employer Allliance has released a study showing that older workers want flexible working hours to allow them to spend more time with their families and engage in leisure activities. However, the same study shows that only 5% to 15% of new positions here are made available to older people as employers perceive them to have lower energy levels, lack relevant skills and the ability to adapt quickly.

The employee desires were reported as a result of focus groups. Workers aged 50-54 wanted a job that requires minimal travelling and provides flexible working hours. Those aged 55-59 said they wanted greater flexibility when taking long periods of leave to enjoy leisure activities such as travelling and also wanted a lighter workload.

The employer attitudes were reported as a result of a survey of 22 employers. Despite their reluctance to hire, however, the companies do value older workers who are already in their employment, because of their loyalty and wealth of knowledge.

Source: AsiaOne News "Older workers prefer flexi-work" (October 13, 2010)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stresses on Knees of Older Workers May Lead Them to Claim Workers' Compensation

Dr. David Cooper, director of orthopedic surgery at The Knee Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, suggests that knees may be the latest challenge facing aging workers and their employers, as people in their 50s, 60s and older are stay in the workforce and find their knees bearing the brunt. However, Dr. Cooper says that "there is no scientific evidence suggesting repetitive standing causes [arthritis] to accelerate" and that employers need to be wary of workers with preexisting osteoarthritis who blame work-related activities for causing them more pain.

According to Dr. Cooper, arthritis is a disease, not a function of aging; it is genetic and therefore cannot be caused or aggravated by work tasks. He does make some suggestions to mitigate discomfort:
  • Minimize the use of stairs and ladders;
  • Use elevators whenever possible;
  • Use foam mats to provide a cushion on hard floors;
  • Wear comfortable shoes to absorb the pressure; and
  • Walk around occasionally instead of constantly standing in one spot.
Source: Risk & Insurance "Orthopedic surgeon says work activities do not aggravate arthritis" (October 11, 2010)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Canada: Older Workers Landing Jobs

According to an article by Tavia Grant in The Globe and Mail, older workers in Canada have been the biggest gainers in the workforce in 2010. In September alone, there were 37,000 more jobs for workers 55 and older even though overall jobs declined. While she cites a preference among employers for experience and the fact that more older people are actively looking for work than in decades past as factors, she also notes that older workers have become more willing to take a pay cut, making their cost more comparable to someone with less experience:
“Experienced workers are a valuable resource but they also are settling for lower wages,” said Jim Geraghty, president of Happen, a Canadian network for unemployed mid-level to senior managers and executives. “People today need to be more flexible and disregard the old salary expectations.”
Statistics Canada reported a 7.7% increase in job growth over the past year among men aged 55 and older and 5.9% among women over 55, while job creation was flat among middle-aged women and youth and had grown 2.3% for men aged 25 to 54.

Source: Globe and Mail "Experience trumps age in Canadian job market" (October 8, 2010)

Friday, October 08, 2010

United Kingdom: Rise in "Silver" Apprenticeships

Belying the stereotype that people in later life are reluctant to learn new skills, statistics obtained from the Skills Funding Agency by Age UK and The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) show that the number of people aged 50-plus enrolled in apprenticeship programs has grown to a record number of over 5,000 "silver" apprentices, including over 400 people in their 60s and 13 in their 70s, with the oldest apprentice in the United Kingdom being aged 76.
Research by the former Learning and Skills Council shows most 25-plus workers use apprenticeships to develop their skills under their current employers (50%) or move on to a new job (33%). While no similar figures are available for 50-plus workers, the steep rise in the number of apprentices in this age group during the recession suggests that some 50-plus workers may have opted for apprenticeships to elude unemployment.
This growth was first noted among the 25-plus apprentices which rocketed in 2007-2008 from just 300 to 27,200 after the Government started funding apprenticeships for this age group. Prior to then, only a handful of apprentices over the age of 50 enrolled in early pilot schemes.

Sources: AgeUK News Release (October 6, 2010); Daily Telegraph "Recession sees rise of the 'silver' apprentice" (October 7, 2010)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Study Reports that "Working in Retirement" Will Become the Norm

According to a study by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work, fully 75% of workers aged 50 and older expect to have retirement jobs in the future. This will be a significant change from today, where already one in five workers aged 50 and older has fully retired from his or her former career job but currently is working for pay in a new role--defined as a "retirement job."

"Working In Retirement: A 21st Century Phenomenon", co-authored by Melissa Brown, Kerstin Aumann, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Ellen Galinsky and James T. Bond, used data from FWI's 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce and reports that, among other things, money is not the only motivation for continuing to work; 31% report that they are working to stay active, and 18% say they want to contribute and be productive. In fact, less than one in five report working in retirement due to insufficient income, though they do earn less money than those who have never retired-—the typical median yearly income among those working in retirement is $21,000 less than those who have never retired.

Writing about their work in The Huffington Post, Galinsky, Pitt-Catsouphes, and Brown point out five important differences between assumption and reality about older workers in retirement jobs:
  1. Assumption: Careers are Linear; Finding: 20% of U.S. workers over 50 years old have fully retired from a job and are now working.
  2. Assumption: People Work in Retirement Because They Have To; Finding: Retired workers are in the labor force both because they have to and want to.
  3. Assumption: Older Workers Don't Work Very Hard; Finding: Working retirees are working hard and in some ways have better jobs than their pre-retirement jobs.
  4. Assumption: There is Widespread Tension Between Older Workers and Younger Bosses; Finding: Approximately one in ten workers has a supervisor who isn't supportive when work problems arise--regardless of the difference in age between the worker and his or her supervisor.
  5. Assumption 5: Working in Retirement Will Disappear As a Phenomenon When The Recession Eases; Finding: Working in retirement has become the "new normal."
Source: Families and Work Institute News Release (October 6, 2010)

Philippines: Older Workers in Nation without Prohibitions Against Age Discrimination

An article by Allyn Baldemor for UPI.com provides some insight into how the tough road some older workers have to hoe in the Philippines since the Labor Code does not include age among the factors that employers cannot discriminate against. A bill has been introduced in the Senate to include age as a prohibited basis, but similar legislation three years ago got nowhere. Among the things that Baldemor sites:
  • Many want ads state a preferred age range for job applicants, usually 20 to 28 years old for entry-level positions and up to 44 years old for managerial levels.
  • It is common for employers to assume younger individuals would be fit for the typically long hours and night shifts in call centers.
  • There is a cottage industry in forged birth certificates so older workers can appear younger.
Source: UPI.com "Faded Glory: Age discrimination in the Philippines" (October 3, 2010)

Survey: 4 in 10 U.S. Workers Planning To Delay Retirement

Towers Watson has released the results of a survey showing that 40% of U.S. workers are planning to retire later than they did two years ago, and a vast majority of workers are prepared to spend less in retirement and are willing to pay more now for greater certainty in their future retirement and health benefits. In particular, older workers and those in poor health comprise the largest percentage of employees planning to delay retirement: 45% of employees in poor health plan to postpone their retirement. In being asked their reasons, 68% of older workers said to keep their health care coverage and 61% blamed the decline in the value of their 401(k) plan.

The survey--"Attitudes Part II: Employee Attitudes Toward Risk"--was conducted with 9,100 employees and found, among other things:
  • more than three-quarters of older workers plan to spend less in retirement than they are spending today;
  • employees are more willing to pay a higher amount for certainty in their retirement and health care benefits compared to 15 months ago;
  • employees across all age groups and plan types are willing to trade higher pay increases for more generous retirement benefits and more predictable health care benefit costs.
According to Towers Watson, the survey found that 63% of respondents are actively paying off their debts to improve their financial situation, 54% are cutting back on their daily spending, and 34% are increasing their monthly savings.
“The economic crisis has had a deep effect on employees’ attitudes toward retirement and especially on risk,” said David Speier, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson. “Despite the signs that some employees are saving more, spending less and reducing debt as the economy stabilizes, workers continue to have a fear that they won’t be able to afford retirement — and that will have significant implications on companies’ ability to plan their future workforce needs.”
Source: Towers Watson News Release (October 5, 2010)