Friday, May 18, 2018

Webcast Explores Workers' Comp and Managing Aging Workforce Risks

Marsh's Workers' Compensation Center of Excellence presented a webcast, in which panelists discussed a number of strategies organizations can adopt to help create healthier workforces, which can contribute to safer workplaces. During the webcast, the panel discussed:
  • How an industrial athlete approach can improve the conditioning of employees.
  • Physical changes that occur as workers age and their implications for workplace safety programs.
  • How to reduce injury rates for older workers.
According to a report on the webcast:
“I would argue that the same risk factors exist for employees regardless of age,” said David Damico, Atlanta-based vice president and senior ergonomics consultant with Marsh Risk Consulting. “That said, certain risk factors such as force, repetition (and) environmental concerns can become more prevalent as we age.”
In addition, Gary Anderberg, senior vice president–claims analytics, Gallagher Bassett Services Inc., is quoted as saying:
Older workers “know what they’re doing.” .... “They know what to avoid, where not to put their fingers and their toes, for example. The most dangerous time for any employee is generally the first year on the job when they’re still learning to work safely. But when they do suffer workplace injuries, for older employees, the medical indemnity costs can be higher, the cost of treatment can be higher in part because the comorbidities older workers tend to have can complicate recovery.”
Source: Marsh's Workers' Compensation Center of Excellence Webcast (May 16, 2018)

Additional Source: Business Insurance "Aging workforce has positive benefits, but injury risks loom" (May 17, 2018)

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Czech Republic: IMF Consultation Report Suggests Raising Retirement Age Will Aid Economy

As part of its staff concluding statement of the 2018 Article IV Mission to the Czech Republic, the International Monetary Fund--in reporting that the Czech economy is growing strongly, but that the challenge is to sustain stable growth through the cycle and over the long term--suggests that raising the retirement age will ease economic pressures. Thus, the report states that:
  • Stresses on the pension system are manageable with increases in retirement age.
  • Employment has risen very strongly, to rates now above the EU average. But policies can encourage further increases in participation of underrepresented groups. Further increases in retirement age would mitigate the decline in the working age population.
  • The framework for life-long learning should be enhanced, given an aging workforce that will be retiring later in life.
Source: International Monetary Fund Mission Concluding Statement (May 16, 2018)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Research Finds that Employer Initiatives Can Reduce Stress in Older Workers

According to a Portland State University study, Older workers tend to feel more stress than younger workers when their employers don't provide them with the support and resources needed to do their jobs well. In "Do resources matter for employee stress? It depends on how old you are," published online in the April issue of Journal of Vocational Behavior, the authors--Lale M. Yaldiz, Donald M. Truxillo, Todd Bodner, and Leslie B. Hammer--found that both younger and older workers had lower levels of overall stress when they were given more autonomy on the job, had good relationships with their bosses and felt they were respected and treated fairly at work. But when such resources were lacking, older workers reported significantly higher stress levels a year later than their younger colleagues.
"These are things that employers should provide to all employees, but may be especially important for older employees," Truxillo said. "You don't want to have a company policy that says, 'We treat young people this way and old people that way,' but it does show you that age-sensitive human resource systems should be in place where you maybe train managers on how to be aware of the needs of their different workers."
Among other things, the study recommends:
  • Rather than require that employees complete tasks a certain way, employers should, when possible, give workers the flexibility to bring their different skill sets, strengths and years of accumulated job experience to the table
  • Training for supervisors should emphasize leadership skills about how to build strong relationships with workers of all ages so they feel like trusted and valued members of their team
  • Since older workers appear to be more susceptible to stress in the face of unfairness, organizations can help workers by being transparent about how decisions are made and implemented, not discriminating, valuing employee input when making key decisions and providing channels for employees to voice concerns.
Source: Portland State University Press Release (May 14, 2018)

Sunday, May 13, 2018

United Kingdom: Research Suggests Higher Proportion of Older Workers Can Lower Overall Productivity

A research paper finds that, in the United Kingdom, the higher the proportion of over 50s in the workforce in a local authority area, the lower the overall level of productivity. In "Does ageing matter when it comes to workforce productivity?," the International Longevity Centre–UK suggests that this "may be because work suffers from diminishing returns: that for every additional year worked, there is a relatively smaller gain in output."

The paper also argues that whilst rising life expectancy and other factors might raise the age at which productivity peaks, the broad shape of a worker’s lifetime productivity curve is likely to remain, so that a higher share of older workers will likely drag down overall levels of productivity.

According to Ben Franklin, the Centre's Assistant Director of Research and Policy:
With reference to English Local Authority data, this report provides support to both prevailing conclusions in the economic literature regarding the impacts of ageing on productivity. An older workforce may be a drag on output, but an ageing population could raise the rate of productivity growth.

In any case, investment in education and health are likely to remain critical drivers of long run productivity. Both are strongly correlated with the productivity performance of local authorities in our analysis, and focusing on the health and education of the workforce, irrespective of age, is therefore likely to support higher levels of economic output.

Source: International Longevity Centre–UK Press Release (May 11, 2018)

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Gerontological Society of America Issues Report on Longevity Economy

The Gerontological Society of America has issued a report showing that older Americans will be key to the nation’s future economic health, but the public and private sectors must adapt to these demographic realities. Among other things, “Longevity Economics: Leveraging the Advantages of an Aging Society” addresses the workplace, noting that older Americans, as producers:
may be employed in full-time or part-time positions, self-employed (consultants, contractors, freelancers, olderpreneurs), volunteers, or caregivers. To maximize the impact of older people, ageism must be eliminated and opportunities created in the workplace; older workers must be valued for the depth of their knowledge and experience, and for their dedication to the enterprise and desire to remain engaged with chosen careers. The benefits go both ways; studies show an association between continuing to work and better cognitive function in late middle-aged and older people.

Source: Gerontological Society of America Press Release (May 10, 2018)

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

Research Lays Out Framework for Productive Aging at Work

In an article in the May Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Paul A. Schulte, James Grosch, Juliann C. Scholl, and Sara L. Tamers of The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, present evidence supporting a framework for productive aging at work, with the goals of maintaining productivity in older workers and preparing younger generations to remain healthy and productive as they age. See "Framework for Considering Productive Aging at Work," in which they conclude that the productive aging framework provides a foundational and comprehensive approach for addressing the aging workforce.

According to NIOSH's National Center for Productive Aging and Work, "productive aging" is an approach that emphasizes the positive aspects of growing older and how individuals can make important contributions to their own lives, their communities and organizations, and society as a whole. In the context of work, productive aging involves providing a safe and healthy work environment for everyone through comprehensive strategies that allow workers to function optimally at all ages.
Four attributes of the Center's approach to productive aging include:

A Life-Span Perspective that considers the patterns of change and transition that occur in different domains (e.g., biological/physical, cognitive, social) from the first day on the job to the last. This perspective extends the concept of productive aging to workers of all ages and views the aging process as dynamic, adaptive, and influenced by the environment.

A Comprehensive and Integrated Framework for improving worker safety, health and well-being in a coordinated program that utilizes a range of education and intervention strategies. These strategies draw from a growing knowledge base of factors that have particular significance for an aging workforce where people are working longer (e.g., ergonomics, injury prevention, chronic disease management, healthy lifestyles, workplace flexibility, etc.).

Outcomes that Recognize the Priorities of Both Workers and Organizations. A productive aging approach targets both types of outcomes with the understanding that each type of outcome can potentially influence the other. These outcomes may range from improving safety and well-being (worker-centered) to reducing health care costs and maintaining job performance (organization-centered).

A Supportive Work Culture for Multi-Generational Issues that arise when up to four generations (World War II Generation, 1925-1945; Baby Boom Generation, 1946-1964; Generation X, 1965-1980; Millennial Generation, 1981-2001) are working side-by-side. Although often subtle, differences between generations can include attitudes toward work and supervision, preferred communication style, training needs, and work habits. Learning to manage these differences and build upon the unique strengths of each generation creates an inclusive workplace culture that also contributes to productive aging.
Source: Press Release Newswire (May 7, 2018)

Monday, May 07, 2018

Switzerland: President Pushes for Tax Hike To Solve Pension Problem, Not Raising Retirement Age

In an interview with Neue Z├╝rcher Zeitung, Swiss President (and Home Affairs Minister) Alain Berset has defended his proposed pension reform plans, which include a 1.7% increase in valued-added tax (VAT) to fund it. As reported in SwissInfo.ch, Berset specifically said that fixing a general retirement age will not solve the problem because companies will not employ older workers.
“Older workers continue to be disadvantaged. But it is true that, due to demographic changes and the shortage of skilled workers, they will be in greater demand in the future. Rigid fixation on a generally higher retirement age is the wrong approach. If we give the right incentives, more people will work longer voluntarily. The aim must be to raise the effective retirement age,” the minister told [the newspaper].

Source: "Berset pushes for tax-hike to solve pension problems' SwissInfo.ch (May 7, 2018)

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

UK Report Finds that Employers Provide Inadequate Support for Older Workers with Health Conditions

The United Kingdom's Centre for Ageing Better has issued a research report showing that employers are not properly supporting older workers experiencing long-term physical and mental health conditions. According to "Health warning for employers: Supporting older workers with health conditions," older workers are more likely than younger workers to be managing multiple long-term conditions, and health conditions are the main driver of older workers exiting the labor market before they reach state pension age.

In addition, the report found that disclosing a health condition to one's employer is a stressful and repeated process. Poor workplace culture and overly bureaucratic procedures result in many people putting off health-related conversations with their employer until absolutely necessary.

The report was written by Jemma Mouland, Senior Programme Manager, based on research conducted for the Centre for Ageing Better by YouGov and Mustard Research.

Among other things, the report recommends that employers should:
- Normalise conversations around health at work and create a supportive, empathetic and
open culture around managing health conditions at work.
- Ensure full and equal access to support for health at work, including flexible working
and workplace adjustments for all employees. These adjustments are often small and
inexpensive and employers should provide them proactively and consistently.
- Ensure adjustments and support are sustained.

Source: Centre for Ageing Better News Release (April 26, 2018)

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Issues Guidelines on Discrimination Against Older Workers

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (IHREC) has published new guidelines for employers and employees to seek to ensure that older workers, who wish to continue in employment, are not discriminated against in workplaces in Ireland. The “Guidelines on Retirement and Fixed-Term Contacts” focus on the potential for discrimination arising from the compulsory retirement of staff on reaching a particular age, as well as the offering of fixed-term contracts to persons over that compulsory retirement age.

Among other things, the guidelines consider practical issues that arise from granting fixed-term contracts to employees who are over a compulsory retirement age, and explains how these issues may be addressed by both employers and employees. In addition, they The consider the setting of compulsory retirement ages, and the dismissal of employees who reach that age. Both of these actions are subject to the requirement of “objective justification”. The guidelines explore what “objective justification” means and what the relevant test involves.

Source: Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Press Release (April 30, 2018)

European Community Issues Triennial Pensions Adequacy Report

According to the 2018 Pension Adequacy Report, there are 1.9 million fewer older Europeans at risk of poverty or social exclusion than a decade ago, while the number of older workers in employment has increased by 4.1 million in the last three years alone. However, the report urges that the European Community not be complacent: some 17.3 million or 18.2% of older people (aged 65 and over) in the European Union remain at risk of poverty or social exclusion, an amount that has remained nearly unchanged since 2013.

With respect to older workers, the report's findings include:
11. As people remain on the labour market for longer, the employment in the age
group 55–64 grew by 5.1 percentage points or 4.2 million workers (2.2 million
women and 2 million men) in the years 2013-2016, following the trend of the past
10 years. Later retirement is the most important factor behind the growth in
employment; this is also an effect of pension reforms. The share of pensioners in
this age group strongly decreased, while the share of unemployed and those unable to
work due to illness or disability increased slightly. Gains in older people’s labour
participation can also be attributed to new, better-educated age cohorts replacing
previous ones. Depending on specific country situations, effective policies to boost
participation vary from investing in early education to improving access to lifelong
learning, and from improving health conditions to promoting active ageing and age
management in the workplace.

12. As life expectancy improves, longer working lives will be vital to enable men and
women to acquire adequate pensions. People retiring in 2056 will have lower
pensions compared to their work income than a similar career would have
earned them in 2016. Pension systems can promote longer working lives by adjusting
pensionable ages (e.g. by increasing the statutory retirement age to reflect life
expectancy gains), pension benefits or career length requirements, rewarding later
retirement and discouraging early exit. The strength of (dis-)incentives varies across
countries. At the same time, flexible retirement options, including possibilities to
combine pension with income from work, and tax incentives promoting later
retirement are becoming increasingly widespread.

The 2018 edition of the triennial Pension Adequacy Report ("The 2018 Pension Adequacy Report: current and future income adequacy in old age in the EU") analyses how current and future pensions help prevent old-age poverty and maintain the income of men and women for the duration of their retirement. Volume I is devoted to comparative analysis of pension adequacy in the 28 member states of the the European Community. Volume II provides a more detailed description of the pension system and pension adequacy in each of the 28 states.

Source: European Community Press Release (May 1, 2018)

New Zealand: Research Published on Income Losses for Injured Older Workers

According to University of Otago research, injuries impact on the financial well-being of older workers with substantial lost earnings of between 20% and 30% of their work income, but that the loss in work income is mitigated by public income transfers. Thus, the average total income losses are much less overall at between 3% and 7%.

As authored by Senior Research Fellow at the University of Otago’s Injury Prevention Research Unit, Dr Rebbecca Lilley, and Injury Prevention Research Unit Deputy Director Gabrielle Davie, "Financial impact of injury in older workers: use of a national retrospective e-cohort to compare income patterns over 3 years in a universal injury compensation scheme" highlights the importance of the social welfare safety nets New Zealand currently has.
Using Statistics NZ’s Integrated Data Infrastructure, the researchers identified a cohort of 617,722 workers aged 45 to 64 years, of whom more than 20,000 had a substantial work or non-work injury in 2009. They followed the cohort for three years and found income reduced over that time with the losses greater for those that were injured. In the third year, those injured received on average NZ$2,630 less than the comparison group, equivalent to a seven per cent drop in income.
The authors note that, like many developed nations, New Zealand’s working population is rapidly aging which has implications for the burden of injury and subsequent injury-related disability in New Zealand. By 2023, one in three of New Zealand’s workers will be aged over 45.

Dr Lilley says given the country has an aging population and people are increasingly continuing to work past the traditional retirement age, it is important that workplaces do everything they can to help get people back to work as soon as possible. “Older workers are renowned for being a highly reliable and engaged workforce and given we have a rapidly ageing workforce and future employment shortages, it’s vital that workplaces really engage with improving working conditions to encourage their workers to get back to work more rapidly."

Source: University of Otega News Release (May 1, 2018)