Monday, September 26, 2005

Companies with Legacy Systems May Be Missing Out of Knowledge of Aging Workers

Ben Lieberman, principal architect for BioLogic Software Consulting, has published an article suggesting that many enterprises still execute critical business operations through older software systems that run on large, mainframe computers rather than individual PCs. Wrting about legacy systems for IBM's developerWorks, he argues that while these conmpanies continually update, extend, and integrate their systems, paradoxically many of them "also have policies that threaten the single greatest source of knowledge about their older systems: their most senior personnel. Although the aging workforce represents a vast pool of talent and experience, these businesses neither actively recruit senior workers nor provide incentives to retain those on staff. Instead, they mistakenly assume that they can hire younger, lower-paid people to perform the same tasks."
Clearly, senior personnel with intimate knowledge of the systems slated for replacement should play a pivotal role in the project. An organization that does not recognize the unique value of these individuals for new system development as well as legacy system maintenance may find that it has wasted a few million dollars on a new system that is not as effective as the old one. By actively working to retain these senior team members, organizations can dramatically reduce the costs associated with legacy system maintenance as well as the risks associated with system integration and replacement. Providing incentives in the form of personal growth strategies, such as training in the use of automated tools, involvement with new company projects, and other continuous learning opportunities, will help entice older personnel to remain within the company, share critical system information, and make invaluable contributions to system modernization projects.
Also, see interesting SlashDot conversation about this article.

Source: "Keeping the lights on: Legacy systems and the maturing workforce" IBM (September 15, 2005)

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Aging Workforce Boosts Demand for Business Trainers

Cindy Mays of the Dallas Morning News writes that as a result of the increasing the aging workforce, as well as the increasing complexity of many jobs and an improved economy and corporate profits, "employers will devote greater resources to job-specific training programs, creating a strong demand for training and development specialists across all industries."

Source: "Business trainers back in demand" 9/20/2005

PA Governor Rendell Calls for Champions of Older Workers

Governor Edward G. Rendell announced that Pennsylvania is looking to honor and recognize those who champion older workers. As part of National Employ Older Workers Week, nominations are being accepted for the 21st annual Hall of Fame of Champions of Older Workers, which was was created to identify and recognize Pennsylvania employers who have made noteworthy efforts to hire older workers and to increase employment opportunities for those aged 55 and older. Employers who have actively recruited older workers, developed opportunities and training, provided flexible schedules, promoted older workers from within or generally made accommodations for a mature workforce are being sought statewide. The winners will be formally honored during the Pennsylvania Employer Awards luncheon at the Hershey Lodge and Convention Center in May 2006. All nominations must be received on or before Nov. 18. Nomination forms are available on the web.

Source: News Release Office of Governor, Pennsylvania 9/20/2005

America's Aging Workforce Posing New Opportunities and Challenges for Companies to Utilize Mature Employees

According to a new report issued by The Conference Board, "the rapidly aging global workforce-–caused mainly by the number of retirement-eligible employees continuing to work-–is both a challenge and major opportunity for corporations." In the report ("Managing the Mature Workforce," Lorrie Foster, Director of Research Working Groups at The Conference Board and co-author of the report with management consultant Lynne Morton and noted author Jeri Sedlar, Senior Advisor to The Conference Board on mature workforce issues, argue that "skills and knowledge mature workers possess can be utilized to great advantage by a company that knows itself well and can identify its weak areas that can be bolstered by the right mature workers." In particular, the report recommends
a series of strategic ideas and actions to foster effective management of any “retirement risk” to the business posed by a potential exit wave of mature workers. Among them:
  • Identify potential gaps and knowledge transfer needs
  • Broaden succession planning thinking
  • Check communications mechanisms and messages for intergenerational approach
  • Review training history
  • Capitalize on affinity groups
  • Become an “employer of choice” for all generations
  • Encourage better financial planning among employees
  • Build a retiree network
  • Offer benefits of interest to mature workers such as long-term care insurance, pre-retirement planning, health and wellness programs, comprehensive medical coverage, including prescription drugs, health coverage for retirees and part-time workers, prorated benefits for employees on flexible work schedules
Source: News Release The Conference Board (September 19, 2005)

Sunday, September 18, 2005

BC center lands $3M to study aging workforce

The newly established Boston College Center on Aging & Work has received a $3-million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to study how the American workplace will evolve to accommodate its aging workforce. That question and others related to the impending challenge facing the U.S. as a large segment of its workers approaches the "traditional" age of retirement will be part of the three-year research-centered grant. "One thing that can affect older workers’ decisions about work that is often over-looked is the availability, or lack of availability, of flexible work options," said Boston College Center on Aging & Work Co-Director Michael A. Smyer. "Our work will focus on the study of working flexibility because it is a particularly important element of innovative employer responses to the aging workforce."

Source: News Release Boston College 9/6/2005