Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Research: Investigators Report on Worker Disengagement before Retirement

A paper published by Dutch researchers following a panel study finds that, in line with the notion of the preretirement disengagement process, many older employees disengage more from work when getting closer to their planned retirement age. However, according to "Do Older Workers Develop a Short-Timer’s Attitude Prior to Retirement?" written by Marleen Damman, Kène Henkens, and Matthijs Kalmijn, career experiences of promotion and employer change slow down the disengagement process, while Declining health, in contrast, accelerates the process.

The aim of the study was to improve understanding of work disengagement in the pre-retirement period, by examining the impact of proximity to planned retirement (anticipated future) and work, educational, and health experiences (lived past) on pre-retirement work disengagement.
The transition from work to retirement is a complex long-term process. This study clearly shows that the preretirement work disengagement process already starts a couple of years before older workers retire and steadily increases when workers get closer to retirement. Also for workers who have passed their planned retirement age, relatively large increases in work disengagement were found.
Source: Social Science Research Network Abstract (December 21, 2011)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Australia: Study Identifies Barriers Preventing Older Workers from Remaining In or Re-entering in the Workforce

Australia's Minister for Employment Participation, Kate Ellis, has released a report identifying age discrimination, physical illness, injury and disability as key barriers preventing older Australians remaining in or re-entering the workforce. All together, 14 barriers are identified and discussed in "Ageing and the Barriers to Labour Force Participation in Australia," an interim report prepared by the Consultative Forum on Mature Age Participation:
discrimination in employment on the basis of age, care-giving responsibilities, flexibility of employment arrangements, issues around private recruitment firm practices, job search assistance, leisure time trade-off, mental health barriers, mismatch of skills and experience with industry demands, physical illness, injury and disability, re-entry issues barriers of the VLTU (Very Long-Term Unemployed), re-training and up-skilling barriers, superannuation, tax-transfer system, and workplace barriers.
According to one analysis, the report found found that a mature worker’s own health--not workplace barriers--was the biggest barrier preventing them from entering the workforce, staying employed or working beyond retirement age. Thus, while "physical illness, injury and disability" was given a 100% importance rating, workplace barriers--such as poor or difficult workplace conditions or environments and physically demanding occupations--was only given 16.7%.

However, the report also noted that "It is important to note that the barriers presented in this paper are not independent of each other. Rather, many are interrelated and policy responses need to recognise this complex reality. As such, responses to these barriers need to involve many stakeholders, including government, employer organisations, employers, trade unions as well as mature age people."
"The Australian Government recognises that older Australians, with their skills built over a lifetime, make a massive contribution to our economy and our community," Ms Ellis said.

"We want to clear the way for older Australians to be able to stay in the workforce if they want to and this means tackling issues such as age discrimination or looking at how workplaces, equipment and jobs can be modified to better suit older Australians.
Source: Minister for Employment Participation Media Release (December 13, 2011)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Australia: Report on Economic Potential Urges Government Action To Improve Labor Participation by Older Workers

The Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians has submitted its third and final report to Australia's Deputy Prime Minister and Treasurer, making recommendations in areas it has found to be vital to enabling senior Australians to actively contribute to all aspects of society. While addressing issues across the aging spectrum, including an aging agenda, housing, lifelong learning, active aging, volunteering and philanthroppy, and age discrimination, the report--"Realising the economic potential of senior Australians: turning grey into gold"--makes a series of recommendations concerning participation in the labor force, including the following:
  1. The federal government must engage peak employer and industry groups to assist individual employers to develop and implement older worker employment strategies, starting with a series of high profile seminars across the country.
  2. All levels of government must embed age diversity within their workforces and model best practice on attracting, developing, and retaining older workers.
  3. The federal government must work with industry to extend flexible work arrangements to people aged 55 and over by amending the law to include the right to request flexible work for this age group or through best practice industry standards.
  4. The federal government must commission a review of the income support framework for people aged between 50 and age pension age (including income thresholds) and
    employment support programs for mature age workers, to ensure individuals have appropriate incentives and assistance to work to their fullest capacity.
  5. The federal government must work with state and territory governments to amend workers’ compensation regimes to ensure older workers are not disadvantaged, convene a roundtable with the insurance industry to examine the availability and affordability of income protection insurance for workers over age 60, and to identify ways of encouraging the private insurance market to offer income protection insurance to workers regardless of their age.
According to Everald Compton, the Panel's Chair:
"Of particular importance will be the ability of seniors to stay in the workforce for a significant period after they reach the 'traditional age for retirement' and their ability to serve Australia as volunteers. We also want senior Australians to help turn Australia into a powerhouse of philanthropy".

"The work of this panel is only the start of action needed to embed a national ageing agenda in Australia", said Everald Compton. "Government of all levels need to continue working together to develop strategies out to 2050 to capitalise on the potential of senior Australians whose aspirations change with every generation".
Source: Advisory Panel on the Economic Potential of Senior Australians Media Release (December 12, 2011)

Monday, December 05, 2011

Generations of Talent Study: Effects of Country, Age, and Career Stage on Employes

The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College has published a study of employees' work experience, finding that those 40 years old and older are the most engaged and demonstrate the highest level of organizational commitment, and that those 50 years old and older are the most satisfied with their jobs. The "Generations of Talent Study" assessed the effects of country, age, and career stage among employees worldwide, based on work experiences from 11,298 individuals, working for seven multinational companies, at 24 worksites in 11 countries.

Among other things, the study found that employees working in young-developing countries (Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa, Botswana) show higher levels of work engagement and organizational commitment than do those in the old-developed countries (Japan, the Netherlands, Spain, UK, U.S.). In contrast, job satisfaction levels are similar on average for employees working in the young-developing countries and in the old-developed countries. Dr. Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Director of the Sloan Center, noted that "[c]ontrary to popular opinion, older workers are the most engaged, and forward-thinking companies need to begin strategizing about how to capitalize on this asset."

In addition to an overall report on "Effects of “Old-Developed” versus “Young-Developing” Country Type and Age-Related Factors on Work Engagement, Job Satisfaction, & Organizational Commitment," the Sloan Center has published individual reports about the effects of country and age on employees for the following countries:Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College News Release (December 1, 2011)

Friday, December 02, 2011

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Calls for Improving Incentives for Older Workers Staying on the Job

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has issued a discussion paper, reinforcing the argument that retaining older workers in the workforce is part of the solution to avoid the skills crisis Canada is on the verge of experiencing, and calling for the removal of disincentives that discourage seniors from working. In "Incenting Seniors to Continue Working," the Chamber set the table for changes as follows:
Seniors represent a constituency that needs to be better integrated into the workforce. They possess the essential skills employers need. Many do want to continue working and view work as an important part of their life balance. Yet, in 2010, only a small percentage of individuals 55 years of age and over were in the labour force.
Accordingly, the paper pinpoints six key areas to be addressed in order to encourage the ongoing participation of seniors in the workforce:
  1. pension reform;
  2. tax reform;
  3. flexibilty in the workplace;
  4. innovative tools dedicated to the hiring of seniors, including online guides and websites;
  5. lifelong learning and training; and
  6. advancing a new business culture aimed first at retaining, rather than replacing, senior workers.
Source: Canadian Chamber of Commerce News Release (December 1, 2011)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Survey: Older Workers More Secure in Roles, Less Confident in Their Orgnaizations

In its 2011 Global Mindset Index, rogenSI reports that "workers are confused and uncertain about where their organisations are heading and rather than being innovative and forward thinking in their roles are instead playing it safe and holding on for all they’re worth as a renewed sense of uncertainty ripples across the globe." With respect to workers 50 and over, the report finds that the older a worker gets, the less confidence the worker has in his organization and where it’s going, but the more stable the worker feels in his role.
What is clear is that older workers are not lacking in confidence in their own abilities - they are, however, feeling unsure about their organisations’ prospects. It would seem as though their experience in the workforce has taught them to see the future a little more clearer than their younger colleagues — they know the warning signs of what’s to come because they have seen it all before.
rogenSI suggests that, left unattended, this can be a concern for organizations. In particular, this degree of malcontent can result in an inability to retain key staff. Thus, it is important to continue to provide feedback, support and guidance. Otherwise, costs associated with recruiting and training new staff will increase and with large numbers of new staff in critical roles, performance and outputs will undoubtedly be impacted.

Source: rogenSI "Don't Stop Believing: 2011 Global Mindset Index" (2011)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Aging and Demographics Identified as Part of Unrelated Trends Driving Talent Management

Research in thought leadership from Taleo Corporation finds that a number of otherwise unrleated changes around the world are likely to have a profound impact on the way companies of all sizes compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global economy. Specifically, "The Future of Talent Management: Underlying Drivers of Change" identifies integration of global economies, aging and demographics, a blurring of inside and outside talent, the Arab Spring uprisings, and the need to engage knowledge workers with mobile, social networks and other digital tools as key to defining how companies acquire and manage talent during the next five to 10 years.

With respect aging and demographics, the report states:
Baby Boomer retirement is top of mind in the United States, but the real demographic challenges are found in other developed countries, where population growth rates and aging populations are poised to stifle local economies. That means companies must move talent from areas of abundance to scarcity. And here, some new shifts are occurring. As once-new markets like China and India mature and labor there achieves parity with other developed economies, companies will look to other regions for cost-effective pools of talent, including Russia and Eastern Europe, Mexico, South America and "the rest of Asia."
Source: Taleo CorporationNews Release (November 8, 2011)

Monday, November 07, 2011

Australia: Clarius Group Reports Increase in Labor Participation by Older Workers

In its quarterly skills survey for the September 2011 quarter, the Clarius Group, while noting that the overall index fell in the quarter, also noted the aging demographic of the Australian workforce--the percentage of the labor force aged between 55-56 had increased to 13.8%, compared with 8.3% in 1998.

According to the report, "[b]alancing this exodus of older workers is the fact that an increasing number are staying because of higher life expectancy, improved health, and hopefully, because they enjoy working life." Furthermore, while many businesses are already targeting keeping the older workers, more initiatives are needed to sustain this development. The report also finds that "the older staff members want very much the same working structure as the youngest—-flexibility and challenges."

Clarius Group identifies three skills areas as being among the key skills the labor market will lose when this group of workers exit the labor force between 2017 and 2026: health, education, and engineering.

Source: Clarius Group Media Release (November 7, 2011)

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Singapore: Age Friendly Workforce Asia Conference Opens with Study Showing Younger Workers Less Likely To Hire Older Workers

At the "Age Friendly Workforce Asia 2011" conference held in Singapore November 3 and 4, the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) announced the results of a study seeking to identify common factors that differentiate successful mature job-seekers from those who were unsuccessful. According to Ong Dai Lin, writing for TODAY, the study found that "[a] job-seeker above 40 stands a lower chance of snagging a job if he is interviewed by a panel of younger people. In contrast, his chances are substantially higher if the interviewers included people of similar age or those who are older."

Specifically, the likelihood of mature job-seekers getting and keeping the job jumped from 56.6% to 69.2% when they are faced with a mixed panel of young and old interviewers, instead of a panel comprising just younger people. In addition, the survey found that employability of mature workers increased when they are tech-savvy.

According to the conference sponsors, senior level decision makers came together to exchange ideas on business sustainability and lifelong employability: 400 CEOs and HR Directors "are revolutionising attitudes and harnessing new strategies towards an ageing workforce--the urgent reality of a greying phenomenon that is sweeping across Asia."

Also from TODAY:
Minister of State (Manpower) Tan Chuan-Jin felt that the study had "two key findings": One, diversifying the age composition of the recruitment selection panel increases a mature job seeker's chances. Two, the provision of flexible work arrangements helps widen the pool of mature job seekers.
Source: TODAY Online "Younger interviewers 'less likely to hire those above 40'" (November 4, 2011)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Australia: Minister Announces Removal of Age Limits on Superannuation

While announcing the introduction of superannuation guarantee rate legislation boosting the superannuation savings of Australians, the Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation, Bill Shorten, also announced the decision that there will be no age limit for superannuation guarantee contributions, effective July 1, 2013.

Scrapping the age limit had been a major goal of National Seniors.

Source: Minister for Financial Services and Superannuation Press Release (November 2, 2011)

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Study: Employers with Older Employees, More Full-time Workers More Likely To Provide Pensions

A study issued by the Investment Company Institute reports that companies with an older, higher-earning workforce are more likely to offer retirement plans than those with younger, lower-income employees. According to "Who Gets Retirement Plans and Why, 2010," workers at small employers that sponsor retirement plans are as likely to participate as workers at large employers sponsoring retirement plans.

In addition, the study shows that 39% of workers aged 21 to 29 worked
for employers that sponsored retirement plans in 2010, compared to 57% of workers aged 55 to 64. Similarly, 23% of workers in the lowest quintile of annual earnings ($14,000 or less) worked for employers with retirement plans, compared with 74% of workers in the highest quintile ($60,000 or more. "Employees also were more likely to report that they worked for an employer that sponsored a plan if they were more fully engaged in the workforce."

Source: Investment Company Institute News Release (October 31, 2011)

Monday, October 31, 2011

United Kingdom: Survey Finds 6% of Workers Think They Can Never Afford To Retire

A survey conducted by Standard Life finds that over three quarters of a million 45-65 year olds in the United Kingdom say they don't think they will ever retire. While 6% of 45-65s who aren't retired don't think they will ever retire, 21% 1 of 45-65 year olds who have financial plans in place to provide for their long term future no longer feel their plans will support them due to the current economic climate.

On the other side of the equation, 16% of 45-65s who have financial plans in place to provide for their long term future feel confident, and a further 48% of 45-65s feel reasonably confident their financial plans will support their long-term future. Altogether, 72% of 45-65s who aren't retired plan to retire between the ages of 61 and 70 years old.

Source: Standard Life Press Release (October 28, 2011)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Canada: Study Finds that Delayed Retirement Has Become a Trend

A study by Statistics Canada finds that older workers have been increasingly delaying their retirement since the mid-1990s. This is consistent with the increase in the employment rate of older Canadians that began about the same time. Thus, a 50-year-old worker in 2008 could expect to stay in the labour force 3.5 years longer than in the mid-1990.

In an article--"Delayed retirement: A new trend?" by Yves Carrière and Diane Galarneau--published in Perspectives on Labour and Income (Vol. 23, no. 4), the authors conclude that:
Delayed retirement could alleviate some of the economic challenges of population aging. However, hours of work must be considered, since a drop in average weekly hours could partly offset the impact of an increased expected work life on annual hours and economic growth. In fact, the average work week for those 55 and over in 2010 was indeed 1 hour shorter than in 1997.
Source: Statistics Canada The Daily (October 26, 2011)

Netherlands: Government Introduces Bill To Facilitate Work after Age 65

The Dutch Social Affairs Minister, Henk Kamp, has introduced legislation designed to make it easier to work beyond the age of 65. Under the draft bill, employers will be allowed to extend temporary employment contracts for older workers beyond the current limit of two renewals.

Those over 65 will not be entitled to sick pay and employers will not have to take special steps to reintegrate them after sick leave. From 2013, employees will also be able to postpone their state pension for up to five years and receive a pension bonus of 6.5% for each year that they exceed the normal retirement age.

The bill is part of the agreements worked out by the Cabinet in June in the pension agreement made with employers and employees.

Source: Rijksoverheid (October 12, 2011)

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Norway: Survey Finds Seniors Want To Keep Working, Employers Unprepared

Over half of respondents in the Norwegian Senior Policy Barometer would like to work after they have been entitled to a pension, but the majority of companies have no strategy for how to maintain and further develop the seniors. Specifically, the survey conducted for the Centre for Senior Policy reports that 66% of workers over 60 want to continue to work after reaching pension eligibility an increase from 54% in 2004.

According to Centre director Kari Østerud, a strategy to keep seniors in the workplace is not only about the senior's desire for more holidays and more flexible working hours. More importantly, it's about to be seen at work, having the opportunity to learn more, and the exciting challenges in the workplace.

The survey also found that the age before employees want to leave the workforce rose from 63.2 to 65 for 2011--the strongest increase in age ever measured. For those over 60, the age is even higher they want to come out of the workforce at 66.8, which is significantly higher than expected retirement age in Norway today.

Source: Centre for Senior Policy Press Release (October 19, 2011)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

GAO Issues Repot of Recession on Employment Status of Older Americans

According to a report issued by the General Accountability Office (GAO) looking at unemployment and the recession, once older workers lose their jobs they are less likely to find other employment, household income has fallen 6% for adults aged 55 to 64, but increased by 5% for adults 65 and older, and older adults continued to spend more on medical care than those in younger age groups.

Specifically, in "Income Security: Older Adults and the 2007-2009 Recession," the GAO found that "the median duration of unemployment for older workers rose sharply from 2007 to 2010, more than tripling for workers 65 and older and increasing to 31 weeks from 11 weeks for workers aged 55 to 64. In addition, the proportion of older part-time workers who indicated they would prefer full-time work nearly doubled during this time."

It also found that median household net worth fell during the recession for older adults. Poverty rates increased for adults aged 55 to 64, but declined for those 65 and older, while low incomes were more prevalent in older age groups than in younger ones.

Source: General Accountability Office Report Abstract: GAO-12-76 (October 17, 2011)

Monday, October 17, 2011

Canada: Mining Industry Using Dual-Career Paths To Retain Knowledge Workers

According to a report issued by the Mining Industry Human Resources Council (MIHR), in partnership with the Canada Mining Innovation Council, Canadian mining companies are adopting dual-career development paths--that is, the creation of alternate advancement paths for technical and managerial employees--as a means to retain knowledge workers. In addition, "Making the Grade: Human Resources Challenges and Opportunities for Knowledge Workers in Canadian Mining" finds, among other things that a continued decline in fertility rates, coupled with an aging population, means that highly skilled immigrants will grow in importance to organizations looking to fill knowledge worker skills gaps.

Furthermore, the study finds that "employer outreach to younger audiences is seen as one key to future attraction of knowledge workers. The number of people connected through social media is increasing at an exponential rate, particularly among younger generations. Organizations are increasingly turning to social-media campaigns for recruitment, awareness and branding opportunities."

According to "Unearthing Possibilities: Human Resources Challenges and Opportunities in the Canadian Mineral Exploration Sector," a second report issued by the MIHR, the mining sector:
is not immune to the broad trend of an aging workforce—with 16 per cent of the workforce over age 55. Furthermore—and of particular importance—the sector has a shortage of workers in the middle parts of their career (aged 35 to 44), suggesting challenges with mid-career attrition.
Thus, among other things, it finds that programs and initiatives to engage and retain the aging workforce are also important for the future success of the exploration sector. .

Source: Mining Industry Human Resources Council News Release (October 14, 2011)

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Case Study: Six Major US Employers and Age Diversity

The Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College has released a report examining the evolution of age diversity strategies within six major U.S. employers finding, among other things, that while U.S. employers tend to have formal diversity programs at their workplace, age diversity isn't always a clearly defined element, nor is it effectively communicated. In "Age: A 21st Century Diversity Imperative," the report looks at Cornell University, Dell, GlaxoSmithKline, Marriott, MITRE and Wells Fargo, each of which shared a promising practice along with its business case, implementation steps, metrics of success and future outlook.

The report also found that the approach to age diversity is evolving within organizations: from a compliance-only focus, to an older worker and then multigenerational approach, to an integrated age management strategy. Even in organizations that have implemented age-related initiatives focused on younger or older workers, the internal strategic focus is on the four generations in the workplace--veterans (born before 1946), boomers, Gen Y, and the up and coming Gen 2020 (born after 2000--and enhancing intergenerational relationships.

The practices examined included:
  • a program for retirees enabling
    project work, consulting, volunteerism and website resources.
  • a toolkit to better equip managers with the resources needed to successfully lead multigenerational teams.
  • employee resource groups for boomers and young professionals
Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College Publication Archive (September 2011)

Monday, October 03, 2011

Australia: Seniors Group Calls for Scrapping Age Limits on Employer Superannuation Contributions

At the Tax Forum in Canberra, National Seniors is calling on the government to scrap age limits on the superannuation guarantee at this week’s Tax Forum in Canberra. According to National Seniors chairman and economist Professor Judith Sloan, superannuation age limits are inconsistent with espoused labour market trends: "We’re getting mixed messages," she said. "On the issue of super guarantee age limits, it’s time for Government to put their money where their mouth is."

Their submission to the Tax Forum also calls for providing appropriate support for mature workers:
Creating a level playing field for mature age workers and indeed recognising the extensive skills and experience of many older Australians must remain an economic imperative. There are both economic and fiscal imperatives for improving the participation rate and employment of older people. Participation in the workforce is associated with positive life outcomes such as financial independence, a sense of identity and social opportunities, as well as contributing to healthy ageing.

The average duration of unemployment for a person aged 55 and over is much longer than that for younger people. As of July 2011, the average period of unemployment for those aged 55 and over was 63 weeks. This compares with only 33 weeks for those aged 15-54. That represents more than a year of lost productivity for the economy and a prolonged period of financial hardship for the individual, at a time of life when people are usually best placed to increase their retirement savings. This hardship is compounded by changes to indexation arrangements in recent years, which mean that a single person under 60 on Newstart Allowance receives only 65 per cent of the amount an age pensioner receives.

The Consultative Forum on Mature Age Participation is expected to put forward a range of proposals to redress barriers to employment in 2012. In the interim, National Seniors’ key priority is to increase the Newstart Allowance for the long-term unemployed to a level approaching the age pension.
Source: National Senioers Media Release (October 3, 2011)

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Work-relevant Musculoskeletal Disorders among Older Workers

According to an article by Kathy Lewis, director of Working-Health Physiotherapy and Ergonomics, factors influencing work-relevant musculoskeletal disorders (WRMSDs) in the older workforce are numerous and complex, but an increasing understanding of this is emerging. After considering the positive and negative impacts of employing an older worker and highlighting how an organization can help support the aging population to help sustain a productive and healthy workforce with regards to neuromusculoskeletal health, she suggests a series of best practices for employers:
  1. assess the determinants of work ability of the older worker;
  2. target available resources to identified problem areas, aiming at an individual, group or organizational level and including such things as examination of job demands versus individual capabilities; examination of work-rest scheduling; shift-work guidance; examination of current reporting systems; and
  3. consider policy implications with regards to the neuromusculoskeletal health of the older worker, such as age strategy; and
    the prevention of age discrimination in the workplace.
Source: Personnel Today"Work-relevant MSDs and the older workforce" (October 1, 2011)

Saturday, October 01, 2011

New Hampshire: Report on Aging and Healthcare

A report issued by the New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies looks at how the state’s shift towards an increasingly older population from now until 2030 will influence critical policy debates, including health care. Among other things, according to "New Hampshire’s Silver Tsunami: Aging and the Health care system," the move towards an older population in New Hampshire will exacerbate existing problems in recruiting and retaining a health care workforce.

By 2030, nearly half a million residents will be over the age of 65, representing almost one-third of the population. While the report addresses a number of issues, it also confronts the aging workforce:
New Hampshire physicians are already significantly older than the nationwide physician population. And as the share of the population that is not working increases, it will raise concerns about who will take care of this aged population.
To this end, the report analyzes the dynamic of a shrinking labor pool following the retirement of the baby boomer generation, in particularly noting the growing discrepancy between the older population and the younger workers needed to care for it.

Source: New Hampshire Center for Public Policy Studies News Release (September 28, 2011)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Retirement and Health Survey Released

According to a survey on retirement and health, 54% of preretirees who are now planning to retire later than they were when they were in their 40s say the primary reason for the delay is that they do not feel they can afford it financially. The Retirement and Health Poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health also finds that 51% percent of people who say that they will never fully retire say they do not feel they can afford to retire financially.

Generally, the survey finds that one in four retirees think life in retirement is worse than it was before they retired, with the results showing stark differences between what pre-retirees think retirement will be like, and what retirees say is actually the case.
"Those of us over 50 and working are optimistic about our future health and health care, but that optimism is not necessarily shared by those who have already retired," said Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, MD, MBA, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "Many people who have already retired say their health is worse, and they worry about costs of medical treatment and long-term care. Insights from the poll can help policy makers and others think about how to meet the needs of aging Americans. There are changes we can make to our health care system, finances and communities that might help ensure that our retirement years will be as fulfilling as we hope."
Source: News Release (September 27, 2011); NPR.org "Retirement: Reality Not As Rosy As Expectations" (September 27, 2011) and related stories

Friday, September 16, 2011

Australia: Survey Finds More Discontent Among Older Workers and Gen Y

A survey of 1,000 Australian workers conducted by Mercer finds that Australians have a higher regard for their employer and their manager and they are satisfied with the type of work they do, but that older workers and Generation Y are not entirely happy, and are more likely to leave. Specifically with regard to older workers:
[O]lder workers aged 55-64 are more satisfied with the type of work they do and are less likely to leave but feel they are being overlooked for career development opportunities. Just 40% believe they have sufficient opportunity for growth and development, compared to 64% of those aged 25-34. Older workers are also least likely to be satisfied with their pay, with 49% saying they are paid fairly, compared to 66% of 25-24 year olds and 51% overall.
Source: Mercer Press Release (September 13, 2011)

Monday, September 12, 2011

AARP Announces 15 Best International Employers of Workers Over 50

AARP has released its 2011 list of the 15 companies and organizations globally that have the most positive workplace policies for their older workers. The list includes winners from Australia, Austria, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Singapore and the United Kingdom and includes four employers that have won before.

Among the practices cited by AARP as worthy of recognition were:
  • promoting older workers through a training camp designed to help older job applicants and the long-term unemployed re-enter the workforce (DB Services; Germany)
  • designating older workers in each function as subject matter experts; their role as facilitators and trainers has helped raise the profile of older workers and contributed to a culture shift in the organization (Lam Soon Edible Oils Sdn Bhd; Malaysia)
  • offering a partial retirement scheme that allows older workers to draw company pension benefits while continuing to work part-time (Marks and Spencer plc; United K
Source: AARP News Release (September 7, 2011)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Canada: Survey Finds Canadians Needing To Delay Retirement Because of Lack of Savings

According to a survey conducted by the Canadian Payroll Association, 40% of Canadians said they now expect to retire later than they previously planned, and the primary reason (cited by 40%) was "I'm not saving enough money for retirement." Furthermore, the CPA survey found 57% of those surveyed said that they would be in financial difficulty if their pay was delayed by even a week.
Almost three-quarters of employees (74%) said they have saved less than a quarter of their retirement savings goal. “This is particularly troubling when you realize that 71% of the respondents are over the age of 35, with the bulk in their main saving years between 35 and 54,” states Dianne Winsor, CPM, Chairman of the CPA.

Another significant finding – half (50%) of employees across the country reported that they are saving 5% or less of their net pay. This is well below the 10% of net pay that financial planning experts generally recommend as a retirement savings rate.
Source: Canadian Payroll Association News Release (September 8, 2011)

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Study: Looking at Rising Retirement Ages in United States

The Center for Retirement Research at Boston College has released an issue brief discussing the rise in retirement ages for both men and women aince the mid-1990's. According to "What Is the Average Retirement Age?" by Alicia H. Munnell, the average retirement age in the United States has risen from 62 to 64 for men, and from 60 to 62 for women.

According to Munnell, factors leading to the rising retirement ages include:
  • changing incentives in Social Security and employer pensions;
  • better education and health coupled with less strenuous jobs; and
  • the decline in retiree health insurance.
In addition, she notes that more older women are working today because more of them started working when younger. In addition, the factors leading to the increased retirement ages suggest the trend toward later retirement will continue but risks remain, such as the move away from career employment.

Source: Center for Retirement Research at Boston College Press Release (August 16, 2011)

Research: Age Diversity in the Workplace as Divisive

According to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Academy of Management, in age-diverse companies, employees experience more anger, fear, and disgust, and therefore they consider more often changing their jobs and contribute less to the performance of the company as a whole. The study--“When and why age diversity matters for organizations: A study on the role of affective processes"--was authored by Florian Kunze of the University of St. Gallen, in Switzerland, and Jochen Menges of Cambridge University. Specifically, the authors say:
"In contrast to several studies on the individual level that portray emotion suppression as a demanding and effortful strategy with high social costs, we showed that emotion suppression is an important response pattern for social interactions in age-diverse organizations. This counterintuitive finding suggests that in age-diverse companies these social benefits outweigh, from an organizational-level perspective, the individual costs of emotion suppression."
The study recommends that managers in highly age-diverse companies implement assessment tools such as employee opinion surveys, analyses of employee grievances, or focus group interviews, and that they invest in emotion-regulation capacities, such as through exercises in emotional control or through role-playing dealing with such potentially problematic situations as younger workers' supervising older subordinates.

A Financial Times article on the presentation reports that the authors suggest two reasons for their findings: (1) people bond better with workers their own age, and (2) in mixed age groups, old people get upset when younger ones are promoted over their heads, while young people get upset when an old person is sitting it out in a job, and preventing their advancement.

Sources: Academy of Management Press Release (August 2011); Financial Times "Age-old bonds make the office tick" (August 14, 2011)

Monday, August 15, 2011

Research Study Finds Disparity Between Effects of Arthritis on Blue Collar and White Collar Older Workers

White-collar workers have a higher overall health-related quality of life than do other workers, and suffer fewer quality-adjusted life years (QALYs) lost to arthritis at all ages, according to research published in the September 2012 issue of the American Journal of Public Health. Thus, for example, while 65-year-old white-collar workers without arthritis look forward to 17 QALYs of future life, blue-collar workers with arthritis experience only 11, and are much less likely to remain in the workforce than are those in service, farming, or white-collar jobs.

In "Arthritis, Occupational Class, and the Aging US Workforce," Alberto Cabán-Martinez, DO, at the time of the study a professor in the department of epidemiology and public health at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in Florida, and the other authors note that this is a signficant workplace issue because it is often the lower-income individuals who, for financial reasons, need to remain in the workforce longer, despite greater health problems than white-collar workers. Among other things, the research found that, in workers aged 65 and older, approximately 67% of farmers, 58% of those in service, 51% in white-collar occupations, and 47% of those in blue-collar jobs had arthritis.
Dr. Cabán-Martinez says it is important to use studies like this to reinforce the need for workforce change. The authors suggest improving disability and unemployment insurance and arthritis health promotion interventions.

He suggests using ergonomic interventions, or changing the workflow or duties to allow people to remain productive longer. For instance, a nurse or police officer could be reassigned from patient handling or street patrol to perform administrative duties. “Wal-Mart might have an elderly greeter at the door instead of at a labor-intensive job so it is not so burdensome on the joints and body,” he says.
Source: Arthritis Today"Arthritis Hits Blue-collar Workers Harder" (August 12, 2011)

Saturday, August 13, 2011

United Kingdom: Fifty Plus Unemployed Face Challenges in Labor Market

Research conducted by the Department for Work and Pensions shows that unemployed workers aged 50 and older take longer to get back to work and are at greater risk of drifting into long-term unemployment or prolonged economic inactivity. The study--"Qualitative Research into Enhanced Jobseeker’s Allowance Provision for the 50+"-- suggests that older newly redundant claimants have a number of key barriers to work that stem from having long work histories e.g. the lack of a CV, lack of job application experience and lack of familiarity with the modern labour market and with online job application procedures.

The report looks at the effects of measures introduced in April 2010 to help Jobcentre Plus advisers deliver an enhanced service to those aged over 50 and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA). The additional support introduced for the 50+ took the form of three voluntary measures: access to work trials from day one; entitlement to an extra 30 minutes of adviser time; and eligibility to be fast tracked to Stage 3 of JRFND. Enhanced adviser training was introduced at the same time to support the changes.

Source: Department for Work and Pensions Press Release (August 11, 2011)

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Australia: Government Appoints First Age Discrimination Commissioner

The Australian government has announced the appointment of Susan Ryan as Australia’s first full-time Age Discrimination Commissioner. According to Attorney-General Robert McClelland, "[i]n her new position of Age Discrimination Commissioner, Ms Ryan will be a dedicated advocate not only older Australians, but also young people who might be affected by age discrimination." Among other things, her job will be to operate as part of the Age Discrimination Act to tackle age discrimination in workplaces and in the wider community.

Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler said that "Australians have the fifth longest life expectancy in the world, and we all want a future where we are treated fairly and valued for our contributions." In addition, he noted that Australia needs more employers and the broader community to appreciate the important qualities and skills older Australians bring to the workplace and public life, something the Commissioner can help bring about.

Sources: Australian Human Rights Commission News Release August 1, 2011; Office of Attorney General News Release (July 30, 2011)

Monday, August 01, 2011

Denmark: Tax Board Rules That Employer Health Check for Seniors Is Taxable Benefit

SKAT, the Danish tax authority, has ruled that an employer's provision of a health check for employees 55 and over designed to help encourage employees to continue working instead of retiring and accepting a pension cannot be provided tax free. According to SKAT, tax free provision of benefits is only allowed only when it is part of an employer's general personnel policy for all company employees, and not when offered only to some employees.

Sources: SKAT Tax Board File No. 10-203449 (June 21, 2011); BDO Chartered Account Co. Newsletter (July 5, 2011)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Canada Gets High Marks for Responding to Aging Workforce

According to a new research report by Schroders, Canada has been facing up to the economic challenges of an aging population, but will still need to do more. The authors--Virginie Maisonneuve, Head of Global Equities at Schroders, and Katherine Davidson--conclude that Canada has been quick to recognize its impending demographic transition and adjust its institutions accordingly. The only ways to break the relationship between reduced labor supply as baby boomers retire and lower GDP growth is "to increase immigration or raise participation rates, especially of older workers" and Canada is doing just that.

The report says, however, that future growth will have to be driven by improvements in labor productivity and Canada is expected to face the highest age-related spending of any OECD member state. Here, too, Canada looks to be in good shape, with a strong record in controlling costs. For example, it spends 10% of GDP on health care versus the US at 16%, and it relies less on the state for pension provision with private pensions and other investments providing over 40% of retirement income, compared to the OECD average of 20%.

Source: PR Newswire News Release (July 21, 2011)

Massachusetts: Two Reports Focus on Rise in Older Worker Population and on Retaining Older Workers

Commonwealth Corporation released two new reports focusing on the aging population in Massachusetts, its effect on the labor supply, and strategies for retaining older workers. Among other things, according to the reports, by 2020, almost 27% of Massachusetts workers will be age 55 or older, Already some industries have a high percentage of older workers--in education and health services, almost a quarter of employees are 55 or older, and in repair, maintenance and personal services, the number is 28.2%.

One report--“The Increased Presence of Older Workers in the Massachusetts Labor Market”--provides an overview of trends in the labor force among the nation's older population and presents more recent labor market outcomes of older workers in the nation and in Massachusetts. This report also examines the industries and occupations in which older workers in Massachusetts are employed and the change across the different industries/occupations.

The other report--“Retaining Older Workers”--summarizes the projects that participated in Commonwealth Corporation's Older Worker Retention Strategies Grants funded by the Workforce Competitiveness Trust Fund and presents findings and lessons learned from the pilot projects.

The reports are joint projects of Commonwealth Corporation and the Center for Labor Markets and Policy at Drexel University and Community Matters, respectively.

Sources: Commonwealth Corporation News Release (July 20, 2011); Boston Globe "A jobs pinch for the ages" (July 21, 2011)

Thursday, July 14, 2011

United Kingdom: TUC Report Finds Improved Job Market for Older Workers and Retirees Since 1992

A report issued by the UK Trades Union Congress (TCU) finds that the years since 1992 have seen a significant increase in the proportion of over-50s and people over retirement age in employment. According to "Age and Gender: What has changed in the labour market in recent years," among other things, the percentage of people aged between 50 and 64 in work has risen from 56.5% in April 1992 to 64.9% in December 2010, and, over the same period, the proportion of those aged over 64 in work rose from 5.5% to 9%.

While the report also reveals that young people have become less likely to be in employment over the same period, TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said that "It is a mistake to blame older workers for youth unemployment--they tend not to be doing the jobs young unemployed people might expect to get." Barber also said:
'Older people bring a wealth of skills and experience to the workplace. The increasing number of over 65s in work shows that older workers are highly valued and that the government is absolutely right to scrap the default retirement age.

'But there is a darker side to people to working beyond their retirement. Low wages and poor pension provision, particularly in the private sector, mean that many people simply cannot afford to retire at 65. The failure of far too many employers to help staff save for their retirement is forcing these people into pensioner poverty and placing a huge cost burden on the state.
Source: Trades Union Congress Press Release (July 13, 2011);

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Survey Finds Boomers Preparing To Work in Retirement

A survey conducted by SunAmerica Financial Group in collaboration with Age Wave reports that more Americans are expecting to retire later and work throughout it. The "SunAmerica Retirement Re-Set Study" found a significant shift in attitudes and actions since 2001, when SunAmerica conducted its initial landmark retirement study with Age Wave. In particular, it reports that:
  • 54% of people 55 and older view retirement as a new chapter in life, rather than a winding down—-up from the 38% that held a similar in 2001
  • pre-retirees say they now intend to delay retirement by five years—-from 64 to 69
  • almost two-thirds of those surveyed say they would ideally like to remain productive and include some work in retirement to stay active and involved
Source: SunAmerica Financial Group Press Release (July 12, 2011)

Friday, July 08, 2011

Europe: Aging Population Requires Making Full Use of Available Employment Potential

Speaking at an informal meeting of the ministers for labor and social affairs, Leila Kurki, president of the Section for Employment, Social Affairs and Citizenship of the European Economic and Social Committee, said that "future pension funding needs will not be determined by the demographic ratio (ratio of older people to people of working age)" but that "the decisive factor is rather trends in the economic dependency ratio, or in the ratio of people receiving benefits to people in employment.” Thus, governments should focus on effectively increasing labor market participation rate of people of working age rather than focusing on making changes to pension systems, tightening pension conditions, weakening pension rights or raising the statutory retirement age.
“Jobs must be designed so that people are able to work at least up to the statutory retirement age.” Kurki pointed out that this would entail radical changes in working life.

Work and management would have to be organised in a way that accommodated ageing at every stage of a person’s career. Working conditions and the working environment must be adapted to suit workers of different ages. Discrimination and negative value judgments against older workers must be combated.

Updating of professional skills and preventive healthcare were of key importance.
Source: European Economic and Social Committee Press Release (July 7, 2011)

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Israel Debates Raising Retirement Age for Women

Although not yet officially released, Israel's Finance Ministry Committee on Female Retirement Age is expected to recommend raising the retirement age for women from 62 to 67, and not to 64, to the same as men, and opposition is coming from many quarters. According to an article in Haaretz, there is widespread opposition in the Knesset, which must approve any changes. In addition, both Talia Livni, president of the Na'amat women's organization, and a representative of the Histadrut labor federation, quit the public committee after the issue turned to raising the age to 67 instead of the original 64 when the the committee was appointed.

An editorial in the Jerusalem Post acknowledges that, since improved medicine and higher living standards are leading to rising life expectancies and an increasingly older population, the recommendation sounds reasonable enough. However, it stated that before the retirement age is raised for women, steps should be taken to ensure more women enter the work force and stay employed longer. Among other things, the Post noted that just 62.2% of women aged 55 to 59, and 6.5% of women aged 65 or older, participated in the job market in 2009, compared to 76.7% and 17.8%, respectively, of men.
Unlike in Europe, where dwindling birth rates, combined with higher life expectancy, has resulted in an increasingly older population, Israel’s balance between young and old is even. Israelis over the age of 65 make up just 9.8% of the population, compared to an OECD average of 14.6%. As a result, the need to raise the retirement age is less pressing here.

We are, nevertheless, outpacing the OECD in the speed at which we are raising the retirement age for women. The average retirement age for women in OECD countries will reach 64 after 2030. If the Treasury has its way, this will happen here in 2017.
Sources: Haaretz (July 1, 2011); Jerusalem Post "A fairer retirement for the fairer sex" (July 5, 2011)

Monday, July 04, 2011

Multi-generational Workplace: Managing the Technology Gap

CIO Inisght has published a series of articles showing employers how, through a combination of policies, programs and tools, it’s possible to bridge the technology generation gap and engage all employees and build a robust and motivated workforce. In them, Samuel Greengard notes that attitudes across generations differ greatly, and cites an Accenture technology strategist saying younger workers are thumbing their noses at IT policies, using nonstandard applications and "improving" things whenever and wherever they deem it necessary.

Greengard's recommendations for organizations to address multi-generational challenges are:
  1. Develop a well-reasoned and balanced technology policy and ensure that employees read and understand it.
  2. Provide training to workers--particularly older employees who may be well-versed in using email and Web tools, but are lagging in areas such as social media and crowdsourcing.
  3. Rethink security and threat management. In this regard, forward looking organizations focus heavily on endpoint security and a more holistic protection model.
In addition, separate articles present:Source: CIO Insight "Managing a Multigenerational Workforce" (June 30, 2011)

Sunday, July 03, 2011

United Kingdom: Survey Shows Unemployment, Hiring Issues for Workers 55 Plus

A survey released by Aviva shows that 39% of over-55s have experienced redundancy, enforced early retirement or stopped work due to illness in the run up to retirement, and that 74% say it is harder to find work after their 55th birthday. Breaking down the numbers, "The Aviva Real Retirement Report: Issue Six" reports that Indeed, 15% report being made redundant, 11% were forced to stop work due to illness, and 11% were forced into early retirement.

In reaction to their financial difficulties, 68% of the over-55s said it has had a detrimental effect on their retirement finances, with 34% having to cut back on their lifestyle, 7% worrying about how to pay an outstanding mortgage and 11% considering using assets such as their house to pay for retirement. Nevertheless, the report says that 5% of over-55s saw the "count-down" to retirement as the opportunity to choose to move to "part-tirement" and 3% to start their own business.

In a story following up on the Aviva report, Jo Thornhill writes in This is Money that "The pensions crisis means over-55s will need a 'patchwork' of roles to boost retirement income". This would be a patchwork of part-time work, consultancy, self-employment and leisure time.

Source: Aviva News Release (June 29, 2011)

Saturday, July 02, 2011

GAO Issues Report on How To Ensure Income Throughout Retirement

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), at the request of Sen. Herb Kohl, the chairman of the Special Senate Committee on Aging, has studied and released a report on how best to ensure income throughout retirement, finding that found that while most retirees rely primarily on Social Security, most Americans fail to maximize their benefits.

The report--"Retirement Income: Ensuring Income throughout Retirement Requires Difficult Choices"--finds, among other things, that around 72.8% took benefits before age 65, and only 14.1% took benefits the month they reached full retirement age, noting that, by taking the benefits on or before their 63rd birthday, 49.5% passed up at least 25% to 335 in additional monthly inflation-adjusted benefits that would have been available had they waited until full retirement age.
“As workers near retirement they not only have to focus on saving money but on closely managing their investment throughout their retirement years,” Kohl said. “This report shows that many Americans will need to save much more or work longer in order to avoid the very real risk of outliving their savings.”
Among the report's recommendations:
  • Many retirees should delay taking Social Security to increase payments for life.
  • Depending on net worth, households also should consider buying a life annuity, particularly if they don't have a traditional pension that guarantees sufficient income.
  • Retirees should make withdrawals from their investment portfolio at a rate of no more than 3% to 6% annually at retirement, with adjustments for inflation, to help ensure they won't run out of money.
Source: U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging News Release (July 1, 2011)

Friday, July 01, 2011

China: Workforce Potential To Decline Due to Aging Population

China's workforce population is at a turning point because of an aging population, according to an Allianz Group. Drawing on latest census, it says that China has a population of around 1.34 billion people, though population growth has nearly halved in the past decade compared to the decade before, and that population aging increased further not least due to the fact that according to estimates some 400 million fewer children were born as a result of the one-child policy introduced in 1978.
"Even if the one-child policy were relaxed or lifted, the decline in the workforce potential could be alleviated but no longer prevented," says Professor Michael Heise, Chief Economist and Head of Corporate Development at Allianz. The turning point for China's labor market will be reached in 2013, according to findings from the recent Allianz Demographic Pulse.
According to Allianz, it is important for China to establish a demographically sustainable social system as a matter of urgency in which capital-funded private provisions play a key role. Among other things, this could include increasing the retirement age to 65 years, thus delaying the demographic turning point by another three years and significantly lowering the age ratio in the long term.

Source: Allianz Group Allianz Demographic Pulse (July 1, 2011)

Monday, June 27, 2011

EBRI: Delayed Retirement May Not Be Enough To Cover Basic Expenses and Health Care

According to an EBRI Issue Brief, many Baby Boomers and Gen Xers would not have adequate income to cover their basic retirement expenses and uninsured health care costs even if they delayed their retirement past the age of 65. A major factor that does make a difference in a person’s ability to meet their basic expenses and uninsured health care costs in retirement, is the whether they are still participating in a defined-contribution retirement plan (such as a 401(k)) after the age of 65.

In "The Impact of Deferring Retirement Age on Retirement Income Adequacy," published as EBRI Issue Brief No. 358, EBRI reports that the lowest preretirement income quartile would need to defer retirement age to 84 before 90% of the households would have a 50% probability of success. "Although a significant portion of the improvement takes place in the first four years after age 65, the improvement tends to level off in the early 70s before picking up in the late 70s and early 80s." At the other end of the spectrum, 75.9% of households in the highest preretirement income quartile are likely to have adequate income for retirement if they retired at age 65. This increases to 81.1% if they keep working to age 69.

In addition, the study noted another major factor in ensuring adequacy: whether stochastic post-retirement health care costs are excluded (or the stochastic nature is ignored).
For the lowest preretirement income quartile, the value of deferral (in terms of percentage of additional households that will meet the threshold by deferring retirement age from 65 to 84) decreases from 16.0 percent to 3.8 percent by excluding these costs. The highest preretirement income quartile experiences a similar decrease, from 12.8 percent to 2.6 percent.
Source: Employee Benefit Research Institute Press Release (June 7, 2011)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

United Kingdom: Researcher Argues for Scrapping Pension Retirement Age for Years of Service

As the United Kingdom debates a bill that would equalize a women's pension age with men's at 65 by 2018 then start to rise to 66 along with men's in 2018, one academic is pushing the argument that the government scrap the pension age altogether and instead base entitlement on the number of years someone has worked.

Sarah Harper, Professor of Gerontology at Oxford University and Director of the Oxford Institute of Ageing, and one of the authors of "Living Long and Prospering?" told a BBC interviewer that the pension age would not reflect the discrepancies in individuals' life expectancy, and it would be fairer to move the pensions system away from age and instead relate it to the number of years worked.

As an example, she compared a low-income male, with an unhealthy lifestyle who retired at 65 in ill health, who could expect to live another 12 years, with a high income male, who was a manager and professional who could easily reach his late 80s--an 11-year difference. If there were a 45-year work requirement, their years of collecting a state pension might be very similar.

Harper did note, however, that even under her proposal, provision would have to be made for some groups of people who had been outside the workforce.

Source: BBC "Scrap pension age, academic says" (June 20, 2011)

Monday, June 20, 2011

United Kingdom: Survey Compares Older and Younger Workers on Training Opportunities, Performance Reviews, and Health

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) says that a survey found that older workers are often neglected when it comes to training and performance management and cautions United Kingdom employers about the need to ensure they are managing the performance of all employees effectively, particularly before the final phase out of the default retirement age. In addition, the survey "shoots down the myth" that workers’ ability to do their job suddenly declines after they hit 65.

According to CIPD's "Employee Outlook: Focus on an Ageing Workforce," 46% of workers aged 65 and above report they have had a formal performance appraisal either once a year or more frequently, compared to 65% of all employees. In addition, 44% of employees aged 65 and above have not had a formal performance appraisal in the last two years or never, compared to an average of 27%. With respect to training opportunities, the survey found that 51% of those aged over 65 said they had received no training in the last three years or never, compared to 32% across all age groups.

On health issues, the 28% of older workers said their physical ability has declined a lot and 51% saying their physical ability has declined a little. However, while workers aged up to 34 are significantly less likely to report a decline in their physical ability to do their job, thereafter there is little difference between the youngest and the oldest workers, with 17% of 34–45-year-olds saying their physical ability has declined a lot and 51% a little. In addition, 91% of workers aged 65 and above say their mental health is good or very good, compared to a survey average of 74%; 69% of older workers report their physical health is good or very good compared to 64% for workers across all age groups.

Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Press Release (June 20, 2011)

Research: Costs of Illness and Early Retirement of Older Workers in Australia

Australian researchers have published results showing that illness-related early retirement has significant economic impacts on both the individual and on governments as a result of lost income, lost taxation revenue and increased government support payments, and quantifying the extent of these impacts for Australia. According to "Economic impacts of illness in older workers: quantifying the impact of illness on income, tax revenue and government spending"
[P]ersons out of the labour force due to illness had significantly lower incomes ($218 per week as opposed to $1,167 per week for those employed full-time), received significantly higher transfer payments, and paid significantly less tax than those employed full-time or part-time. This results in an annual national loss of income of over $17 billion, an annual national increase of $1.5 billion in spending on government support payments, and an annual loss of $2.1 billion in taxation revenue.
The authors--Deborah J Schofield, Rupendra N Shrestha, Richard Percival, Megan E Passey, Simon J Kelly, and Emily J Callander--conclude that "In the past, policy has focused upon economic incentives to defer retirement. However, as ill health is a primary barrier to workforce participation in older Australians, economic incentives alone may not be able to increase participation if the underlying health conditions are not addressed. Investment in improvements in health is potentially an important way of improving national living standards."

Source: BioMed Central Public Health Volume 11 Abstract (June 1, 2011)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Global Coaltion Announces "Global Principles on Population Aging" To Transform World Aging Crisis

The Global Coalition on Aging, has issued a call to transform the worldwide "aging crisis" into an opportunity to drive global economic growth by having governments, corporations, NGOs and other stakeholders make a fundamental shift in their policies and priorities. Specifically, the Global Coalition is asking these groups and individuals to adopt their seven "Global Principles on Population Aging."

The principles include statements advocating public-private cooperation in the development of solutions, as well as the adoption of a holistic, optimistic view of aging. They represent the Global Coalition’s core focus areas--technology, innovation and biomedical research; health and wellness; education and work; and financial security. For those focused on the aging workforce, the fifth principle states:
A productive aging society requires a flexible approach to work, retirement and learning that enhances individual contributions to the economy and personal fulfillment over the life span.
With such members as Aegon, Novartis, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch, and through its website, the Global Coalition aims to challenge and provoke corporate and global leaders to rethink and reshape their actions to maximize the potential of population aging.
“This unalterable demographic shift is already challenging our traditional institutions that as designed can only accommodate a fraction of the aging community they now serve,” said Michael Hodin, Executive Director of the Global Coalition on Aging. “These principles--the product of collaboration among our member companies--invite all stakeholders to address the demographic realities of our changing society. It is becoming increasingly clear that the governments, companies and individuals who take action to turn aging from one characterized by dependence and disability to healthy and active will be the winners of the 21st-century competitiveness race.”
Source: Global Coalition on Aging Press Release (June 15, 2011)

Urban Institute Launches Online Data Source for Retirement-Related Statistics

The Urban Institute’s Program on Retirement Policy has launch an online resource for retirement-related statistics called the "Data Warehouse." At the Data Warehouse, users can glean how different aging populations are faring and get a look at long-term retirement trends. Among other things, the Data Warehouse has a specific page dedicated to older workers, on which are collected statistics relating to:
  • labor force participation
  • employment
  • unemployment
Source: Urban Institute Abstract (June 14, 2011)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Focus on Ergonomics for Aging Workforce Can Be Good for Bottom Line

The blog of the National Association for Environmental Management (NAEM) published an interview with Blake McGowan, Ergonomic Engineer with Humantech Inc., who advocates that businesses apply the principles of ergonomics in a systematic and invest in ergonomics for the aging workforce in particular in order to cut costs and enhance performance. According to McGowan:
A lot of companies are also beginning to realize that they need to have experienced workers in their organization in order to be successful. These are the experienced people in the workplace; who have been with the company for many years, who understand the unwritten worlds, how to solve complex problems, so we definitely need to figure out ways to keep them.
Applying ergonomics can be as simple as providing people with correct working heights or changing the way workstations are lit. However, it can also be as complex as reducing strength requirements for job tasks, which could be a big deal, especially in heavy manufacturing.

NAEM also presented a webinar--"Ergonomics of an Aging Workforce"--on May 24, 2011, which continues to be available for purchase online, which explores the dynamics of an aging workforce and the role safety/ergonomics can play in maximizing the potential of a company’s experienced employees.

Source: National Association for Environmental Management The Green Tie Blog posting (May 23, 2011)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Economist Argues Eliminating Earnings Test on Social Security at Age 62 Will Help Retain Older Workers

The Journal of Applied Business Research has published an article by Robert E. Pritchard, professor emeritus of finance at Rowan University, which suggests that eliminating the existing earned income restrictions imposed on Social Security benefits received at age 62 would provide an incentive for people to worker longer, thereby increasing the total economic output and helping to stimulate employment growth.

In his article--"Creating Social Security Incentives for Older Workers to Remain In the Workforce," Pritchard argues that such a change would mean, among other things that, workers would realize a significant increase in income when they continue to work full-time and collect Social Security benefits, giving them an incentive to continue working. Furthermore, he says that once older workers become accustomed to collecting Social Security benefits while still working full-time, they will feel a strong incentive to continue working full-time.

Source: National Center for Policy Analysis Daily Policy Digest (June 14, 2011)

Bank of America Reports Employers Focus on Financial Benefits Plans To Retain Employees

According to a study conducted for Bank of America, 94% of employers believe it is important to retain older employees for a longer period of time before they retire in light of the talent and skills they possess. The Workplace Benefits Report examined ways in which employers are helping to address the financial needs of perhaps the most demographically diverse workforce in history and found that 50% of employers offer flexible or customized work schedules, 33% are implementing education around retirement income and health care topics, 32% offer continuing education and development opportunities, 22% give employees the opportunity to work remotely, and 21% are offering extended benefits to older employees.

In addition, the study notes:
  • Employers feel increased responsibility for financial well being of employees.
  • Recession and uncertainty of entitlements places increased importance on financial benefits, ignites positive savings actions among employees of all ages<.
  • Employers offer a broader range of financial education and advice, though lack of personalization and communication may limit employee engagement.
  • Employers look to enhance financial benefit plans to address the changing needs of employees and win the war for talent.
Source: Bank of America Press Release (June 14, 2011)

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Europe: Companies Not Meeting Diversity Challenges, Particular of Aging Workforce

A study by The Boston Consulting Group and the European Association for People Management of European companies reports that major European organizations display little diversity in the ranks of their top management. In a Focus report "Hard-Wiring Diversity into Your Business," the two groups analyzed how 444 executives responded to survey questions about the challenges in diversity management and, among other things, found that the business risk caused by demographic change (aging) was cited as the greatest diversity challenge by 48% of the survey respondents.
"Our research has shown that the business case for diversity is clear and that HR needs to integrate such measures into its broader people policies. A modern workplace must represent its customer base in order to be truly effective and to deliver products and services that drive it to the competitive edge in a global environment," explained Stephanie Bird, an author of the report and the director of HR capability for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).
The report explains how employee diversity can be increased to advance business imperatives through several steps: (1) creating transparency, (2) redefining recruiting, (3) promoting diversity, (4) building leaders for the 21st century, (5) retaining employees, and (6) making progress visible.

Sources: The Boston Consulting Group Press Release (June 8, 2011); European Association for People Management News Release (June 8, 2011)

Monday, June 06, 2011

Canadian and irish Researchers Find that Older, Rural Workers Satisfied with Non-standard Work

Researchers studying urban and rural workers in Newfoundland, Ontario and Ireland report that the non-standard work often called a "dead-end job" has little impact on the happiness of older rural workers. Of all older (40 plus) rural workers, a majority were found to hold jobs other than year-round, full-time positions--including long- and short-distance commuters, part-time, seasonal, self-employed, early retirees--and generally these workers report being satisfied with their work-life balance, and even those supposedly holding "jobs of moderate or lower quality tend to make the best of their jobs and focus more on their non-working lives."

The researchers were led by Gordon Cooke, an associate professor at Memorial University of Newfoundland, and they presented in two papers at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences, one by Sara Man of the University of Guelph and one co-presented with Deidre Hutchings, MBA student at Memorial University of Newfoundland. According to an article in the Vancouver Sun:
Using a massive Statistics Canada employment survey database including 25,000 employees in 6,000 workplaces, they found that just 6.8 per cent of 40-plus workers hold unskilled jobs with low pay and benefits. Seventeen per cent work in jobs with non-standard hours, but they have high levels of job satisfaction, ranking themselves an average of 3.3 out of 4.
Sources: CNW Group Press Release (June 3, 2011); Vancouver Sun "Older, rural workers OK with non-standard jobs, research shows" (June 5, 2011)

Survey: Top and Bottom Employers by Percentage of Workers over 50

A survey of Fortune 500 companies by RetirementJobs.com reveals that the airline industry has the highest percentage of employees over age 50, with American Airlines held the #1 position with 39% of its staff over age 50. On the other side, technology companies rank the lowest, wtih Google having ust 13% exceeding that age threshold and AECOM Technology holding the #1 positionn with 6.041% of its workforce over 50.

The survey--"Fortune 500 Companies: 2011 Rankings by Prevalence of Workers Age 50+"--is touted by RetirementJobs.com CEO Tim Driver as "helpful to age 50+ job seekers and existing employees to understand which companies and industries tend to employ a disproportionately high or low percentage of mature workers." In addition, he notes that "It is important to remember that while the findings might show where age bias is more or less prevalent, at this point we do not have information on whether or not these employers have committed to hiring older workers. We simply know that they do or do not tend to already employ older workers."

Sources: Retirementjobs.com Press Release (May 31, 2011); Second Act "Companies with the Most Older Workers" (June 6, 2011)

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Gallup Poll Finds Many Workers Expect To Work after Retirement Age

Gallup Poll has released survey results finding that 80& of American workers think they will continue working full or part time after they reach retirement age, ithe slightly more (44% to 36%) of them saying they will do so because they "want to" rather than because they "will have to." In addition, the poll--conducted April 7-11, 2011, with a random sample of 534 employed adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 states--finds that 63% of workers expect to work part time after retirement age, 18% expect to work full time, and another 18% expect to stop working altogether.
The 80% of current workers expecting to work past retirement age highlights the differences in retirement experience and expectations between current and future retirees. A separate question in the poll found a total of 18% of current retirees saying part-time work is a major (2%) or minor source (16%) of retirement income for them, compared with 74% of nonretirees (including those currently working and those not working) who expect part-time work to be a major (22%) or minor (52%) source of income in retirement.
Source: Gallup Poll News Release (June 1, 2011)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Insurers Report Little Difference in Worker's Compensation Experience Among Worrkers 35 to 64

According to published reports, Research from the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) suggests that there are little cost differences in the workers' compensation system among workers after the age of 35, up through 64. In a presentation to NCCI's Annual Issues Symposium in Orlando, Harry Shuford, NCCI's chief economist is quoted as saying: "Whatever impact on claim costs baby boomers will have, it's already in the workers' comp system. So there is no more stress on the system."
Looking at the leading types of injuries for those in the 20 to 34 year age group compared to those between the ages of 45 and 64 shows some marked differences.

For example, the top claim diagnosis for lost time claims in the older age group is sprain/rotator cuff, something that doesn't appear at all in the top 10 list of diagnoses for the younger workers. Knees are another source of injury for older workers, with torn medial cartilage/meniscus of knee the fourth top diagnosis for older workers, but not showing up in the list for younger workers, who suffered more back injuries and ankle sprains.
Harry Shuford's slides from his presentation are available online at: "More Older Workers: Workers Compensation and an Aging Workforce."

Source: Risk & Insurance "NCCI: Baby boomers pose little additional concern for comp system" (May 31, 2011)

Saturday, May 28, 2011

United Kingdom: London Employers Unprepared for Abolition of Mandatory Retirement

A survey conducted by the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI) and Penningtons Solicitors LLP shows that 57% of London employers are not prepared for and 26% do not know about the 2011 abolition of the default retirement age (DRA). According to "Tackling the age-old problem of retirement, The Penningtons/LCCI survey of London employers on the changes to the default retirement age (DRA)," less than half--43%--of the employers consider themselves to be either quite well or very well prepared.

Other findings of the survey show that 78% think that workers should be retained on their ability rather than their age, 68% agree that the UK's employment legal framework needs to be modernized, 56% are concerned that older employees may refuse to retire even when they cannot perform their job effectively, and 54% are concerned about the lack of clarity about how to legitimately retire employees.

The report also includes a six-point plan to help employers minimize the risks of being on the wrong end of employment-related legal claims. Included in the plan are five best practice points together with advice on how to achieve a fair dismissal on capability grounds: (1) promoting more positive procedural terminology, (2) educating managers to respond to older workers' needs, (3) turning the annual appraisal system into a 365 day rolling program, (4) encouraging mentoring roles for older workers, and (5) building a workplace culture of transparency and clear communication.

Source: Penningtons Solicitors LLP News Release (May 26, 2011)

Friday, May 27, 2011

New Zealand: Research on Employer Preparedness; Calls for Public Employment Changes

New Zealand's Victoria University's announcement of a PhD dissertation showing that many organizations are under prepared for the loss of valuable knowledge as the oldest members of the baby boomer generation near retirement has led to calls for government employers to introduce more flexible working conditions so older workers can be retained in the state sector workforce.

First, the research: Dr. Carmel Joe's research suggests that few organizations have systems for identifying older experts or retaining their expertise after they retire. As part of her work, Dr. Joe created a model that organizations can use to identify the knowledge held by older experts and integrate it in to their knowledge retention processes. According to Dr. Joe:
Some aspects of a job can be documented but not everything. When I asked people what they would do if an expert in their team disappeared tomorrow, most replied that they'd have all the materials that person had generated but not the added element of the tacit knowledge they hold in their head.

Experts become very attuned and intuitive about what to do and what not to do but it's knowledge that is hard to define or write down. They also have a lot of referential knowledge—they know where to go to find things out.
One response to the research has come from Public Service Association national secretary Brenda Pilott who wants measures introduced that would allow older members of the workforce to work part-time. According to a news story written by Tim Donoghue, Plilott said:
The idea of more flexible arrangements to retain older workers and their expertise is something the public service wrestles with ... there needs to be more flexibility in terms of number of hours worked by older workers.
Sources: Victoria University News Release (May 18, 2011); Stuff.co.nz "Older workers 'need more flexible hours' " (May 21, 2011)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

North Carolina: Annual Workforce Report Looks at Recession Impact and Takes Note of Aging Workforce

North Carolina has issued a report on its workforce showing that the recession accelerated the state's shift from a traditional, manufacturing-based economy to a knowledge-based economy. Among other things, the report notes that while the recession slowed baby-boomer retirements, the impact is likely to be felt first and greatest in small cities and rural areas where more workers are near-retirement age.

According to "The State of the N.C. Workforce 2011-2020," while North Carolina’s age distribution is similar to that of the United States as a whole, the state’s micropolitan and rural areas have a higher proportion of older adults than their metropolitan peers, with the prime working age (ages 20 to 54) cohort in rural counties comprises almost a 5.5% smaller share of the total population than in metropolitan counties. In addition, across the state, retirees (over age 65) comprise 12.8% of the total population, but in rural counties that share jumps to 16.8%, and the proportion of pre-retirees (55-64) is also higher in rural areas.

In looking at particular industries, the report notes that one of the biggest challenges the state’s energy firms face is a rapidly aging workforce. "For instance, Duke Energy indicates that more than half of its 17,000 employees in the greater Charlotte area are eligible to retire in the next decade."

Among the reports recommendations is that North Carolina encourage "employers and communities to adapt to the potential impact of large-scale retirements by helping older workers remain in the workforce, continue learning, and mentor other workers while also helping companies develop appropriate success plans, especially for key
occupations."

Sources: North Carolina Commission on Workforce Development "2011 State of the N.C. Workforce Report"; Charlotte Business Journal "N.C. workers need to adapt to work-force challenges" (May 25, 2011)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Study: Boomers Show Fear of Retirement Planning

According to a white paper issued by Financial Engines, retirees and near-retirees feel uncertain about the future, fearful of poverty, and are not confident in their investing abilities. Specifically, "Understanding the Accidental Investor: Baby Boomers on Retirement" reports on interviews with over 300 baby boomers and finds that more than half expressed some form of uncertainty in what the future may bring, nearly half had a fear of poverty in retirement and were distrustful of the motivations or qualifications of financial services and insurance firms, and more than a third said that they did not feel confident or knowledgeable when it came to making important financial decisions.

The most frequently observed behaviors seen among the participants were:
Paralysis. Regardless of the primary emotion, the most common resulting behavior was ubiquitous across participants: to do nothing. While some were paralyzed with fear and uncertainty, others were prevented from taking action by confusion or not knowing whom to trust.
Avoidance. When faced with fear of unpleasant or difficult news, some participants said that they preferred not to know how bad the situation was rather than face the facts. Others said that they wanted to avoid spending their 401(k) assets altogether to give them something to fall back on if something unexpected came up.
Misplaced Trust. Given their distrust of the financial services and insurance industries and lack of confidence in their own financial knowledge, participants often turned to a friend or family member—qualified or not—for retirement advice.
Understanding the Accidental Investor | 4
Magical Thinking. Many participants resorted to magical thinking, telling themselves that everything would work out in the end, or that they could continue working indefinitely without having to adjust their standard of living.
Sources: Financial Engines Press Release (May 23, 2011); The Baltimore Sun "Fear, distrust prevent older boomers from making retirement decisions" (May 23, 2011)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

AARP: Survey Show Depth of Recession's Effect on Older Workers

An AARP survey shows that older Americans, whether working or not, are emerging from the recent recession worried about their financial future and taking actions to rebuild some measure of retirement security. According to "Recovering from the Great Recession: Long Struggle Ahead for Older Americans", published by the AARP Public Policy Institute, 24.7% of those 50 and over surveyed reported exhausting all savings during the recession, and 36.4% who had difficulty making ends meet stopped or cut back on saving for retirement. To recover some financial stability, 44.1% said they would likely work part-time in retirement, and 33.4% said that they planned to delay retirement.
“This unprecedented economic recession has left a legacy of low confidence, lower savings and the lowest employment rates in decades,” concluded [John Rother, AARP’s Executive Vice President for Policy, Strategy and International Affairs]. “While we are hopeful about improving economic conditions, this survey reminds us that older Americans will feel the effects of the recession for years to come.”
Source: AARP News Release (May 24, 2011)

Check out discussion on Huffington Post blog report on the AARP survey.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Conference Board Issues Report on U.S. Workers Increasingly Delaying Retirement

According to the Conference Board, the recession has put even greater pressure on U.S. workers to stay on the job, a trend that had started in the mid-1990s. The Conference Board report--"U.S. Workers Delaying Retirement What Businesses Can Learn from the Trends of Who, Where, and Why"--notes that these trends can vary according to industry:
[W]e see that delayed retirement has been more prevalent for some occupations and industries. For example, the healthcare industry experienced the largest decline in retirement rates in recent years. Jobs in this field are also in great demand. On the other hand, there was almost no retirement delay among government workers, who are more likely to receive defined benefit pension plans.
Gad Levanon, Associate Director of Macroeconomic Research at The Conference Board, and author of the report, says that "[d]elayed retirement allows households to consume more today and reduce the probability of a prolonged slowdown in the U.S. economy, and enables households to reach retirement with more financial resources."

Among other things brought out by the report that can help businesses develop a better workforce strategy, is that delayed retirement provides relief for several more years in industries that will suffer significant "brain drain" from baby boomers leaving. However, for companies looking to reduce headcount, slash labor costs, hire new workers or promote younger workers, delayed retirement could be viewed as a negative development.

Source: Conference Board Press Release (May 19, 2011)