Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Productive Aging Programs Help Employees Manage Age at the Workplace

In a post by U.S. News & World Report blogger Philip Moeller, Kristin Tugman--senior director of health and productivity at Unum--outlined the five components of a productive aging program. According to Tugman, beyond mentoring, prospective labor-force shortages mean many employers simply cannot afford to let older workers retire or walk out the door. In particular, in manufacturing and physically challenging occupations such as nursing, employers "are recognizing the creep up in terms of their employees' average age" and the "clear impact of continuing repetitive, hard labor."

Productive aging programs include:
  1. a rigorous demographic analysis of an employer's aging workforce today and projected into the future;
  2. employee wellness programs with specific older-employee components;
  3. chronic condition management, perhaps with special emphasis on obesity;
  4. flexible work environment; and
  5. job enrichment programs, which value older workers and seek to leverage their motivation with respect to their return to work and their staying at work.
Source: U.S. News & World Report "Employers Slowly Enrich Programs for Older Workers" (March18, 2013)

Friday, March 15, 2013

Survey: Youngest and Oldest Workers Share Most Common Attitudes

A survey conducted by Randstad suggest that the age groups that share the most workplace sentiments in common are the youngest and oldest generations; these employees expressed a more positive outlook on their careers than other demographics surveyed. According to Randstad's Engagement Study, 89% of mature workers and 75% of millennials say they enjoy going to work every day, and 69% of millennials and 64% of mature workers finding a positive energy at work. In contrast, only 53% of other generational groups find such positive energy.

Randstad does point out that there are, however, areas of serious difference among those generations. For example, while 57% of millennial respondents would give serious consideration to a job offer from another company, and 47% would proactively seek out a position with a different employer, only 20% of mature workers would consider making a career move this year, and 12% would look for a new job.
"As the average age of retirement continues to increase, employers are not only seeing a wider generational gap amongst their employees, but they are also seeing more generations sitting side-by-side in the workplace than ever before," said Jim Link, managing director for Randstad US. "It is critical for companies to take note of the distinct characteristics, motivations and perspectives each cohort possesses, as well as the overlaps in attitude and workplace desires. In looking at our study findings, companies can dive into what engagement and retention drivers are aligned and not aligned across the different generations to identify and prioritize the largest opportunities to improve employee engagement within their organizations."
Source: Randstad Press Release (March 13, 2013)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

United Kingdom: Lords Report Says Government Unprepared for Aging Population

A report issued by the United Kingdom's House of Lords Committee on Public Service and Demographic Change warned that the government is woefully underprepared for aging, including the need for older people to support themselves through later life, since, for many people, there is a risk that a longer life could worsen the existing problem of insufficient savings and pensions. In "Ready for Ageing?," the report addresses "later working" (one of a wide range of aging issues) and recommends:
  1. The Government and employers need to work to end 'cliff-edge' retirement, by enabling more people to work part-time and to wind down work and take up pensions flexibly. It should be beneficial to defer taking state and private pensions. Employers need to be much more positive about employing older people. The Government should publicly reject the 'lump of labour fallacy' that wrongly argues this will disadvantage the young.
  2. The Committee urges the Government, pensions industry and employers to tackle the lack of certainty in defined contribution pensions and address their serious defects to make it clearer what people can expect to get from their pension as a result of the savings they make.
In reaching these recommendations, the report notes that "working for longer would increase income from work, potentially increase savings, and reduce the time of dependence on those savings. Working for longer can often improve health and brings social and intellectual benefits." However, it understands that "making working for longer possible will require changes to attitudes, as well as policy and practice." To that end, the report includes an appendix focused on working longer, which further suggests, among other things:
  • employers need to be much more positive about employing older people. Employers and employees should adopt a more flexible conception of how and when people move on from paid work as they get older, to their mutual advantage;
  • employers should demonstrate more flexibility towards the employment of older workers, and help them to adapt, re-skill and gradually move to more suitable roles and hours when they want to do so;
  • employers should support those with responsibilities for caring for older people—particularly people in their 50s or 60s who care for elderly parents—to continue part-time or in flexible work;
  • welfare to work policies should also address the needs of older people
Source: Lords Select Committee Press Release (March 14, 2013)

Monday, March 11, 2013

Michigan: Study Identifies Industries with More Older Workers

Jacob Bisel, a senior economic analyst at the Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives, has released a report showing that, in just over a decade, the proportion of workers age 55 and older in Michigan grew from one in eight to nearly one in five, and identifying the industries with the highest concentration of older workers, and the most older workers, in the statte. Bisel states that "The growth in the number of older workers is more than just changing demographics, as uncertainty during the Great Recession caused many of Michigan’s older workers to prolong
retirement."

According to Michigan’s Aging Workforce: Identifying Industries with High Concentrations of Older Workers—2013 Update, the transit and ground passenger transportation sector had the single highest concentration of older workers in Michigan, with 36% of the industry is 55 or older, an increase of 1.5% since 2010. In terms of raw numbers, the education services subsector led, with 87,804 older workers (which comprise more than a quarter of the industry).

Sources: Michigan Bureau of Labor Market Information and Strategic Initiatives 2013 Update; Michigan Live "Rick Haglund: As older Michiganians retire, watch where the jobs will become available" (March 10, 2013)

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Australia: Study Finds Mature-Age Women Consistently Underemployed and Underutilized

The Diversity Council Australia (DCA) reports that mature-age women (defined as 45 and older) earn only two-thirds of the income of mature-age men, have significantly lower workforce participation than men, are more likely to be underemployed than men, and retire earlier with around half the superannuation of men of the same age.

Specifically, DCA finds from Australia Bureau of Statistics data that mature women are:
  • undervalued Women aged in their fifties and above earn 37% less than men of the same age. Women between 45 and 65 are more highly represented among casual workers than men and are twice as likely to have a job with no leave entitlements than men.
  • underemployed Only 47.1% of women aged between 45 and 74 are employed full time compared to 76.9% of men. More than half of mature-age women work part time and 18% of these women (that is 164,500 women) would like to increase the number of hours they work.
  • discouraged The percentage of mature-age female discouraged job seekers has remained consistently higher than that of male discouraged job seekers for most of the last two decades. Close to half a million more mature-age women than men (452,300) are discouraged job seekers.
  • departed Women retire earlier than men (at 49.6 years of age vs 57.9 for men) and with half the superannuation of men although, on average, women live another 3 to 4.5 years longer than men.
DCA also reports that "research clearly demonstrates significant benefits for organisations and the wider economy from attracting, engaging and retaining female mature-age workers." In May, it will be releasing "Grey Matters to Women: Attracting, Engaging & Retaining Your Female Mature Age Workforce" with research on how Australian organizations can implement workforce solutions that better harness the skills and talents of Australia’s female mature-age workforce. Source: Diversity Council Australia Media Release (March 5, 2013)

Friday, March 08, 2013

Europe: Auditors Cannot Assess if Government Initiatives on Older Workers Actually Help

A report issued by the European Court of Auditors has found that neither European states nor the Commission are in a
position to establish how many older workers have gained new qualifications, or found or kept a job after having benefited from an action funded by the European Social Fund (ESF). According to "Are Tools in Place to Monitor the Effectiveness of European Social Fund Spending on Older Workers," the necessary tools to provide relevant and reliable information that ESF spending is meeting the European Union's strategic objective of increasing the employment rate of older workers have not been put in place by most audited member states.

Accordingly, the Court is recommending that, among other things, the Commission should require member states to design their operational programs (OPs) in such a way that the performance of the ESF funds can be measured. Specifically, the target populations should be unambiguously defined and relevant, quantified operational goals and indicators should be
defined to measure outputs, results and specific impacts at target population group level. Intermediate milestones should be set and a hierarchy of target values established. In addition, it should obtain consistent and reliable information from the Member States in order to be able to provide appropriate information on the means mobilized and the results achieved by the ESF.

The report notes that there were 117 ESF OPs for the 2007–13 programming period, of which 63 addressed older workers in at least one of the following aspects--(a) the OP explicitly identifies older workers as a target group, (b) the OP defines specific indicators to monitor the progress made for this group, or (c) funds were allocated for measures encouraging active ageing and prolonging working life.

Source: European Court of Auditors Press Release (March 5, 2013)

United Kingdom: Study Finds Women and Husbands Working Longer Since Female Pension Age Was Raised

The change at which age women can first receive a state pension in the United Kingdom has had a strong effect in increasing employment among those women directly affected by the reform, but has also changed the behaviour of some of the husbands of the affected women, according to new research. According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies Working Paper ("Incentives, shocks or signals: labour supply effects of increasing the female state pension age in the UK"), the affect on men may possibly be because they are delaying their own retirement so they both retire together or perhaps to cover their wives’ lost pension income with additional earnings.

Under legislation enacted in 1995, since April 2010 the age at which women can first receive a state pension has been rising from 60. It is currently at 61 years and 5 months and is due to rise to 66 by 2020. The findings show that, as a result of the one year increase in the female state pension age--from age 60 to 61--that occurred between April 2010 and April 2012:
  • employment rates among 60 year old women have increased by 7.3 percentage points: in other words, in April 2012 there were 27,000 more women in work than there would otherwise have been;
  • employment rates among their husbands have increased by 4.2 percentage points: in other words, there were 8,300 more men in work than there would otherwise have been;
  • 1.3 percentage points more women aged 60 were unemployed: in other words, there were 5,000 more women aged 60 not in work but looking for work than there would otherwise be;
  • the UK’s public finances have been strengthened by around £2.1 billion.
According to Jonathan Cribb, a research economist at the Institute for Fiscal Studies and a co-author of the report:
So, despite the weak performance of the UK economy over these two years, many have been able to limit the loss of state pension income through increased earnings. These results apply only to the first groups affected and how women and men respond may change as the pension age rises further. But this is initial evidence that raising pension ages can have significant positive effects on employment.
Source: Institute for Fiscal Studies Press Release (March 8, 2013)