Thursday, May 26, 2005

World Bank Report: World Faces Pensions Crunch, Major Reforms Unavoidable

As policymakers in the United States, Europe and Asia grapple with the long-term affordability of their pensions systems, a new World Bank report says that growing demographic and economic pressures are forcing both developing and developed countries to undertake urgent pension reform. According to the report, Old-Age Income Support in the Twenty-First Century: An International Perspective on Pensions and Reform, more women in the global workforce, rising divorce rates, changing employment patterns in the global economy, rising budget deficits, and rising numbers of elderly are making the case for pension reform unavoidable.

Source: Kansas City infoZine (May 24, 2005)

Helping Women Overcome a Grey Ceiling: Tory Johnson

Tory Johnson, chief executive officer of and author of "Women For Hire's Get-Ahead Guide to Career Success," was interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America" and gave advice to women on how to beat the perception that youth rules in the workplace and how to get the most of one's career as one get older. Johnson says Americans over 40 in search of jobs are encountering something they weren't looking for: a "gray ceiling"--a career advancement barrier that many older workers face in a workplace seemingly dominated by young people. Among the tips she offered on on how to make age an asset, not an obstacle, in the workplace, are:
  • Don't use age as a crutch.
  • Anticipate the stereotype and be prepared to counter it.
  • Don't focus on age, focus on experience.
  • Anticipate industry-specific opposition.
Source: "How Women Can Avoid the 'Gray Ceiling' at Work" ABC News: Good Morning America (May 24, 2005)

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Prudential Financial Survey Uncovers Roadblocks to Retirement

According to the results of a survey conducted by Prudentail Financial, during the first 10 years of retirement, 70% of Americans currently expect to continue working to supplement income and continue to build their retirement nest egg. In the study--Roadblocks to Retirement, 60% of those Americans aged 30-69 who were surveyed in late December 2004 indicated they are "behind schedule in saving for retirement and the vast majority now expects to work longer and/or to continue working in some way in retirement." Four in 10 indicated they were forced to retire (nearly half of them under 60), and almost two-thirds those indicated they were not financially prepared. Looking forward, many expressed a desire for a new approach to make retirement simpler and more accessible, with education and training and more objective recommendations about how to save and plan; in particular, they found appeal in the idea of a holistic training program aimed at helping Americans transition into retirement, something similar to what the military offers to help members adjust to civilian life.

Source: Press Release Prudential Financial (May 24, 2005)

Monday, May 23, 2005

Law Firm Cautions Employers On ADEA Language in Separation Waviers

Roxane Sokolove Marenberg, Adrianne C. Mazura, Dov Grunschlag and Charlene Wilson of DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, responding to a recent court of appeals decision "that the release of ADEA claims contained in a general release and covenant not to sue was sufficiently ambiguous that it did not constitute a knowing and voluntary waiver of the employee's rights under the ADEA," caution employers to make sure that they follow waiver requirements or otherwise they may find that a claim they believed was settled or released is in fact alive.

Source: "Ambiguities in ADEA Waivers May Crater Releases" Mondaq (requires free registration) (May 20, 2005)

Older Workers Are Often Preferred to Younger Ones Because They Perform Better

Gary Geyer writes in 50plus Online Magazine reports that many companies are now looking to hire older workers because among other things, they often perform better than younger ones. Not only have they discovered that older workers often perform better on the job, they are more likely to be loyal to a company—not quitting after a few years. Turnover rate for workers over 50 is just one tenth that of those under 30. Conventional wisdom was that hiring older workers would be more costly, what with more medical problems and missed workdays. More and more companies are realizing that that is not the case. They find that training, recruitment costs and time spent learning are much lower for older workers, so the difference in costs are negligible.

Source: "Older Workers Wanted," 50plus Online Magazine (May 20, 2005)

United Kingdom : Unemployment and Older Workers

Since the mid-1990s there has been a rapid rise in the number of older people in work. In spring 2003 seven in ten people aged between 50 and State Pension Age, and almost one in ten people over State Pension Age, were working. According to the Autumn 2004 ONS Labour Force Survey, older (50 to state pension age) workers’s ILO unemployment rates are lower than those of their younger counterparts--2.9% compared to 3.4% for the 25 to 49 age group and 12.6% for the 16 to 24 age group. In addition, older workers are more likely to be working part-time than the 25 to 49 age group, and self-employment is more common amongst older workers compared to the younger age groups.

Source: "Older people are much more likely to be long-term unemployed" (May 23, 2005)

Friday, May 13, 2005

U.S. Companies Fail to Capture, Transfer Critical Workforce Knowledge and Skills

According to a survey of more than 500 full-time U.S. workers between 40 and 50 years of age conducted by Accenture, 45% of those employees said that their employers do not have formal workforce planning processes and/or tools in place to capture their workplace knowledge. In addition, 26% percent reported that their organizations will let them retire without any transfer of knowledge. However, 34% reported that their companies hire retired employees as contractors so those former employees can transfer their knowledge and skills to their replacements. Kathy Battistoni, a partner in Accenture’s Human Performance practice, said “Companies should take three critical steps to meet the challenge of transferring knowledge from retiring employees.”
First, they must understand the extent of the problem, including the skills at risk, and their organization’s ability to tackle it. Second, they must develop a strategy to capture and transfer core skills from retiring employees and to identify, attract and retain new workers with critical skills. Finally, they must manage and measure the progress of the entire effort. The bottom line is that leaders in this arena know that capturing critical workforce knowledge and skills can’t be left to chance.
Source: News Release Accenture May 10, 2005

Thursday, May 12, 2005

AARP Pushes for Fairness to Unemployed Older Workers

After the Pennsylvania House Labor Relations voted in favor of House Bill 163, a measure to allow qualified unemployed workers who are receiving Social Security benefits to get full unemployment compensation, AARP Pennsylvania recognized the action to end the state's practice of discriminating against unemployed older workers. According to AARP, Pennsylvania currently penalizes these unemployed workers by forcing them to forfeit $1 of unemployment compensation for every $2 they receive in Social Security benefits. "This is an unfair situation for older workers," said J. Shane Creamer, AARP Pennsylvania State President. "These workers and their employers contribute to the unemployment compensation system just like any worker. Yet should they lose their job, they are denied their full unemployment compensation payment." Thirteen other states penalize older workers in this manner, and West Virginia and Hawaii enacted legislation earlier this year to enable older workers in those states to collect full unemployment benefits.

Source: News Release PR Newswire (May 12, 2005)

Census Bureau Issues Study of Older Workers in Pennsylvania

The U.S. Census Bureau has issued a report--A Profile of Older Workers in Pennsylvania (PDF)--finding that, in 2002, about 37% of working Pennsylvanians were age 45 or older, an increase from 33% in 1998. The share of the Keystone State’s workers who were age 65 or older increased slightly over the period, from about 3% to 3.4%. Other highlights of the report indicated that in several industries (local and suburban transit, apparel manufacturing, textile mill products, real estate and educational services), more than 1-in-5 workers were 55 or older and that workers 65 or older were most likely to be employed in 2002 in health services, business services, wholesale trade of durable goods, and food stores.

Source: News Release U.S. Census Bureau (May 10, 2005)

Survey: Future of Retirement

The international banking group HSBC Group has published a comprehensive study on global attitudes to ageing and retirement, which shows that for many people traditional retirement is a thing of the past: 80% want to scrap mandatory retirement while just 14% equate financial independence with old age. Entitled "The Future of Retirement." the study examines attitudes in 10 countries (Brazil, Canada, mainland China and Hong Kong, France, India, Japan, Mexico, the UK and the USA). In addition to finding that what people want is greater choice in when and how they retire.ow they retire, less than a quarter (21%) said that never working for pay again would form part of their ideal retirement.
The median age of the global population will increase dramatically by 20404, straining the funding of retirement. But given the choice between increasing taxes, reducing pensions or raising the retirement age to ease this burden, 45 per cent chose the latter, emphasising the desire of many to make their own decisions. Just 26 per cent said they would accept higher taxes. Only 15 per cent opted to reduce pension benefits.

However, while the research uncovered a growing desire to redefine how we traditionally think about later life, it also found that people in many countries are unsure of where to go to find appropriate advice. Almost two-thirds (63 per cent) of those surveyed said they had begun to prepare for retirement but most of this was restricted to reading up on the subject and discussion with family and friends.
In addition to publishing the survey, HSBC has created a Future of Retirement website which offers interactive test for determining how prepared a person is for retirement and retirement solutions offered in various countries.

Source: News Release HSBC Media (May 10, 2005)

Aging of Baby Boomers Brings Focus to Age Discrimination

According to an article by Bill Leonard, Jonathan A. Segal, a partner with the Philadelphia-based law firm of Wolf, Block, Schorr and Solis-Cohen, told Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) that preventing age bias could become the top diversity challenge that employers must confront over the next five to 10 years. Speakng to SHRM employees as part of SHRM's recognition and celebration of older worker, Segal said that the changing demographic of the more than 75 million baby boomers in the United States has created what he called the “baby boom-erang” and that many employers are clearly guilty of what he called the “Dracula complex”--“They want newer and fresher blood, because they’re under the mistaken impression that it can bring vitality to an organization.”
Segal said it’s easy for employers to address some problems with age discrimination by making sure to avoid improper job interview questions about age and to use uniform interview questions for all employees. Uniform questions can protect employers from unconscious age bias and illustrate their commitment to equal employment opportunity, Segal said.

He said that employers need to be aware of their decision-making processes and remove unlawful considerations of age.

“In other words, there is no such thing as a ‘young person’s job,’ and discomfort with older employees is never a defense in an age-discrimination claim,” he said. “Management should ensure consistency of all hiring and promotions decisions regardless of age relative to providing opportunities, offering training, setting expectations and measuring the results. Everyone must be treated equally.”
Source: "Aging baby boomers bring age bias to the forefront" HR News Online (May 11, 2005)

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Alaska Holds Hearings on Senior Employment

The Alaska Commission on Aging is conducting a series of forums around the state to develop recommendations on senior employment, among other things, for this fall's White House Conference on Aging. According to a story by Claire Chandler following one hearing in Anchorage, older workers were described as punctual, reliable, productive and having a good sense about what is important, among other positive attributes valued by employers. Chandler reports that Jeff Kemp, coordinator of the labor department's Mature Alaskans Seeking Skills Training program, told the forum that fears that older workers will take other people's jobs and promotions is unfounded. In addition, Marty Richards, an affiliate assistant professor at the University of Washington's Institute of Aging, "encouraged employers to look for ways to utilize seniors' skills by allowing them to work flexible schedules as they slowly transition from full-time work to retirement."

Source" "Options explored to keep older Alaskans working" Alaska Journal of Commerce (May 1, 2005)

Supreme Court Not To Review Maximum Age for Pilots

On May 1, the Supreme Court declined to hear a pilot group's challenge to a federal rule forcing them to retire at age 60. Accordingly, they left in place a ustices let stand a lower ruling in favor of the Federal Aviation Administration, which says the retirement rule for commercial pilots is necessary for safety. Officials have argued that pilots lose critical cognitive and motor skills as they age.

Source: "Court declines to review pilot retirements" Business Week (May 2, 2005)