Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Oil and Gas Industry: Seeking Solutions to Aging Workforce

Various industry and governmental officials at a workforce panel in Midland, Texas, said that while changing demographics and an aging workforce in the oilfields present a daunting challenge to the energy sector, the challenge isn’t insurmountable. According to an article by Bill Modisett in the Odessa American, most of the panelists were looking towards providing a coordinated message in recruiting younger people to work in the industry, particularly at the high school and university level. "Statistics cited during the forum showed many workers in the industry will be retiring in 10 to 15 years, yet a nationwide study showed the number of students graduated with bachelor’s degrees in petroleum engineering is down by 78%."

Source: "Oil industry faces workforce challenges" Odessa American (February 24, 2006)

Monday, February 27, 2006

County Governments To Be Hard Hit by Aging Workforce

Two articles speak to the financial dilemmas facing county governments in the comng years as their workforces age. In Ocean City Today, Christine Cullen writes that while unfunded retirement benefits ended years ago for private employers, only now is the Governmental Accounting Standards Board requiring local governments to fund post-retirement insurance costs during the tenure of the employee. Thus, governments will have to set aside millions of dollars in segregated funds to cover the liability. Thus, for example, while Ocean City, Maryland, paid approximately $200,000 in retiree health benefits in 2003, and in 2005 the county paid close to $2 million, when the new system is in place, the city will pay $2 million annually, while the county would have to come up with $14 million, or nearly eight times the current amount.

Simiilarly, Bill Turque writes in The Washington Post about the job losses governments are facing. "Montgomery County estimates that 50% of its senior managers will be eligible for retirement by 2010. By next year, more than 70% of Fairfax's top officials will be able to leave and collect benefits." His story points out differences fro for public sector managers. For example, while private corporations have long used "succession planning" as a tool to groom executive talent, civil service regulations place sharp restrictions on designating heirs apparent. In addition, not only is the post-baby boom workforce smaller, but it also tends to hold government service in lower esteem than those who came of age in the 1960s and 1970s.

Source: "Health benefit costs could hit hard for governments" Ocean City Today (February 24, 2006)

Source: "Graying of Workforce Troubles County Governments"The Washington Post (February 26, 2006)

Technology Looking to Older Workers To Fill Job Gaps

Following up on the announcement that the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) has joined the new Alliance for an Experienced Workforce aimed at getting employers to develop strategies of keeping aging American workers viable in the workplace, Marianne Kolbasuk McGee writes in Information Week that within the next four years, "nearly a third of all U.S. workers--including tens of thousands of tech pros--will be over the age of 50, leaving a potential gap of business-tech and vertical industry skills, which also could be worsened on the front-end by a shortage of young people entering the technology fields."

She writes that John Venator, president and CEO of the CompTIA, is encouraging employers to offer older IT workers programs, such as skills certification and training opportunities, to help them acquire new tech skills, boosting their workforce relevance in the years to come. She also cites Quest Diagnostics Inc. as an employer that is already offering work options that older technology workers often find appealing, including telecommuting options, as well as the opportunity to relocate jobs to Quest offices in more favorable climates, like in southern U.S cities.

Source: "Careers: Keeping Older Tech Workers On The Job Longer" InformationWeek (February 23, 2006)

Friday, February 24, 2006

Australia: Jobsharing Offered as Solution for Aging Workforce

A report issued by the Hudson consulting firm suggests that, with Australia’s current skills shortage and the rapid emergence of an ageing workforce, flexible working solutions such as jobsharing will be key to attracting and retaining employees. According to their research, an overwhelming 88% of employers providing a jobshare program believe it has improved their ability to attract and retain employees. Key findings from the report show that:
  • Only 40% of Australian employers currently provide a jobshare program to staff;
  • 52% of employers and 73% of job seekers surveyed would consider jobsharing as a work option, now or in the future;
  • 72% of those employers who would not consider jobsharing believed their role wouldn’t be suitable for sharing; 20% did not know how jobsharing could be applied in their personal circumstance; 8% said they have seen jobsharing poorly implemented in the past
According to Vilma Faoro, National Practice Leader for Hudson JobShare, “[i]t is critical for employers to embrace flexible work options in order to attract and retain talent from a broader talent pool, such as return-to-work parents and mature-age workers transitioning into retirement."

Source: News Release Hudson (February 22, 2006)

Seventh Circuit Allows EEOC To Proceed with Age Bias Claims Against Law Firm

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit has ruled that the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has authority to obtain monetary relief for partners expelled from the law firm of Sidley Austin because of their age. In EEOC v. Sidley Austin, 7th Cir. No. 06-8002, the court held that the EEOC may obtain monetary relief in the case as well as injunctions and that, despite Sidley Austin's claims, there was no bar because the EEOC's "enforcement authority is not derivative of the legal rights of individuals even when it is seeking to make them whole."

Source: News Release U.S. EEOC (February 17, 2006)

United Kingdom: Employers Interested, But Employees Want To Retire

Georgina Fuller reports in Personnel Today that a new survey conducted by Manpower shows that 52% of surveyed employes want to employ staff beyond the age of 65, but 81% of surveyed staff said they would not want to continue working into their late 60s. In addition, 70% of employers said they would offer flexible working in the next 10 years, but just 63% of workers expected to work flexible hours in the future.

Source: "Employers see older workers as answer to skills shortages" (February 23, 2006)

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Alliance for an Experienced Workforce Launched

The AARP and over 20 major industry associations and membership organizations have joined forces to create and launch the Alliance for an Experienced Workforce in order to promote solution-based strategies for recruiting and retaining 50-plus workers and plan for the demographic challenges that face this country in the years ahead.
"Our research shows retaining an experienced workforce is smart business," said AARP CEO Bill Novelli, who serves as Vice Chair of the Alliance. "That’s why all of these industry leaders are coming together to share strategies on how to recruit and retain the boomer workforce."

Because of the demographic shift expected by the retirement of the baby boom generation, many employers are planning now to retain a competitive advantage as the labor market tightens. The Alliance will cultivate industry-specific 50+ worker best practices on issues including benefits, workplace design, and recruitment strategies.

AARP hopes for the Alliance to serve as a catalyst for bringing government, employers and employees together to help and encourage workers to stay on the job.
Source: Press Release AARP (February 22, 2006)

Other Sources: Press Release Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) (February 22, 2006)

Canada: New Statistics Relating Aging, Health and Work

Using data from the 2003 Canadian Community Health Survey, Statistics Canada has released a study showing that while the people in Canada's labour force who were within 10 years of retirement in 2003 were generally in good or excellent physical and mental health, nearly half a million (19%) individuals aged between 50 and 69 had already left the labour force because of health-related reasons. Individuals not working because of ill health rated their physical and mental health as fair to poor, with chronic conditions such as arthritis and rheumatism, high blood pressure and back problems being common concerns.
Their loss is important because of rising concerns over a labour shortage in coming years as the baby-boom generation nears retirement and the growth in Canada's population slows. In 2002, 20% of workers were within 10 years of the median retirement age, double the proportion 15 years earlier.
Source: The Daily Statistics Canada (February 22, 2006)

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Wisconsin Issues Workforce Report on Generational Motivation

In an article for the La Crosse Tribune, Steve Cahalan writes that a new report shows that Wisconsin area employers need to be aware of differences between the four generations i the workplace and find ways to motivate them. The 2005 State of the Workforce Report was released by the Western Wisconsin Workforce Development Board following a survey of 1,570 employees in late 2005. "Members of Generations X and Y tend to be more motivated by flexible hours, co-workers, training opportunities and promotional opportunities, according to the report. Baby boomers and traditionalists tend to be motivated by wages and benefits, it said."
Employees’ retirement plans include working part time for interest or fun, working part time for income, starting their own business or volunteering, the report said. A majority of employees would like to retire by age 55 but do not think they will be financially able to retire until after age 65, it said.
According to the report, labor shortages are expected to occur as baby boomers retire. These workforce challenges will begin about 2008 and peak in 2020.

Source: "Report: Various generations are motivated by different factors at work" La Crosse Tribune (February 21, 2006)

Retirement at 85? Anti-Aging Treatments Might Lead to Demographic Problems

A panel of experts discussed the future of the human life span at a news briefing at the 2006 American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting and, among other things, examined the potential demographic and economic effects which such life-extension measures could have. Assuming anti-aging therapies could increase life expectancy in the near future, Stanford biologist Dr. Shripad Tuljapurkar created a model examining the demographic and economic effects. "Given a 20-year increase in life expectancy between 2010 and 2030 due to anti-aging therapy--which the panel scientists consider a “moderate” estimate--the model predicts that there will be twice as many American retirees relative to working people. Thus, the dependency ratio would double, as would the cost of Social Security and Medicare. In order to compensate, Tuljapurkar estimates, the retirement age would have to climb to 85."

Source: News Archive American Association for the Advancement of Science (February 18, 2006)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

United Kingdom: Employers Respond to Pensions Report

The CBI has unveiled British employers' response to Lord Turner's Pensions Commission recommendations and has proposed to help tackle the UK's emerging pensions crisis without compelling business to contribute to staff pension schemes. CBI argues, in its submission to the Government, that auto-enrolment without compulsion is the best way of increasing pensions saving without undermining existing provision.

The CBI argues that forcing companies into compulsory pensions contributions would put hard-pressed firms, especially smaller ones, under great economic pressure and significantly raise labour costs while failing to boost savings levels overall. Instead, it proposes a Pension Builder plan to boost employee pension contributions, combined with additional support for smaller businesses--either a Partnership Pension in which government matches employer contributions, or a Pension Tax Credit.

Source: Press Release CBI (February 20, 2006)

Community College Uses Bond Issue To Secure Retiree Benefits

Writing for the Hayward, California The Daily Review, Michelle Maitre reports that Oakland's Peralta Community College District is the first in the nation to float a bond issue to cover the ever-increasing cost of retiree health benefits. "Like many districts, Peralta had promised to pay retiree health benefits for life," but funded those benefits on a "pay-as-you-go" basis. However, an aging workforce and rising health care costs are increasingly making that plan untenable.

The bond money has been placed in an irrevocable trust that can be used for only two purposes: paying retiree medical benefits and retiring the bond debt. Peralta Chief Financial Officer Thomas Smith anticipates a 6% annual return over the 45-year term of the bond, enough to finance retiree health benefits and enable the district to repay its debt.

Source: "Peralta innovates funding of benefits" The Daily Review (February 20, 2006)

Monday, February 20, 2006

Australia: Prime Minister Calls for Workers To Delay Retirement

Older Australians need to stay in the workforce, but bosses and employees may have to compromise on hours of work and pay, Prime Minister John Howard says. Addressing an employer group at "The Workforce Tomorrow Industry Breakfast," Howard said that "[t]he bad news is that we are all getting older and as a population Australia is ageing. We are living longer in a healthier fashion and we are therefore facing a significant demographic challenge" and that far too many of the people between 55 and 65 leave the workforce far too early.

Howard said mature workers might find themselves reporting to much younger bosses or having to accept a rearrangement of remuneration structures. In addition, they should be prepared to sign up to part-time work, and people currently out of the workforce on disability pensions needed to be enticed back to work.

According to the Australian Associated Press article on the speech, opposition workforce participation spokeswoman Penny Wong said Mr Howard was acknowledging his government was presiding over a major skills crisis. "But you can't just talk about getting jobs for mature workers and people with a disability--you actually need to invest in their skills so they have the skills an employer needs," she said. "The best way the Howard government can encourage employers to hire jobless Australians is by making sure jobless Australians are ready for work.

"Howard says more older workers needed" Sydney Morning Herald (February 20, 2006)

China: Aging Population and Pension Crisis

Deutsche Bank Research has released a report indicating that China's pension system is facing a demographic time bomb--the consequence of the one-child policy--that could seriously damage its future economic prospects. According to the report ("China’s pension system
Caught between mounting legacies and unfavourable
"), "China is greying fast but at a very low income level. Low effective retirement ages will see the working age population already reaching its peak between now and 2010 and will lift the old-age dependency ratio much higher than conventionally thought." Accordingly, China is getting the demographic profile of an advanced industrial country with a mature welfare system, but with an economy still clambering out of developing status.

Source: "Deutsche Bank: China pensions face crisis" United Press International (February 17, 2006)

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Illinois Governor's Budget Proposal To Respond to Aging Nursing Workforce

In his operating budget plan for Fiscal Year 2007, Illinois Governor Rod R. Blagojevich included a series of proposals to to address the shortage of nurses-–expected to grow to 21,000 by 2020 in Illinois--spurred by an aging workforce and increased demand for nurses as baby boomers grow older. Among other things, Governor Blagojevich proposes to:
  • Develop the Center for Nursing to develope a strategic plan for nursing manpower in Illinois, maintaining a database on nursing supply and demand, and creating nursing retention and recruitment initiatives;
  • offer nursing educator scholarships;<;i>offer grants to nursing schools to help increase the number of faculty;
  • make changes to existing nursing scholarship program to allow consideration of merit;
  • create student loan repayment program for nurse educators.
The budget message follows up on an earlier announcement by the Governor of his plan of heading off the an anticipated severe shortage of nurses resulting from an aging nursing workforce.

Source: Press Relase Illinois Government (February 15, 2006)

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Oil and Gas Industry Being Hit by Aging Workforce

In an article for Dow Jones Newswires, Angel Gonzalez reports that oil and gas companies planning to boost output are nearing a wall: "Nearly half of the aging workforce engaged in exploration and production activities will retire in less than a decade." Thus, their current ambitious projects could come in late and over budget "unless they can hire, and retain, enough people to staff them."
Since oil prices peaked in real terms in 1981, major oil and gas companies have laid off nearly 1.1 million employees, according to energy consultancy John S. Herold. This drove a whole generation of technicians and managers into other industries and discouraged students from entering the field.

Now hard-pressed to increase production and replace dwindling reserves, companies are paying for their old sins. A "very small pool" of talent is "being spread really thin," said Claire Markwardt, a Houston-based partner with Accenture, a consultancy. The amount of talent in the pipeline is paltry, she added. Enrollment in U.S. petroleum engineering programs in 2004 was 2,500, down from 12,000 in 1982.

Also, as many as 40% of U.S. petroleum engineers currently employed will retire before 2014, [Alex} Preston [, head of The Energists, a Houston-based energy recruiting firm] said. The average age of a petroleum engineer, who advises on the best way to develop hydrocarbon reservoirs, is 49 years.
Source: "Experienced Oil And Gas Hands Become A Scarce Commodity" Cattle Network (February 14, 2006)

Phillipines: IT Resource To Replace Aging Japanese?

Japan External Trade Organization expert and chief executive officer of Chinasoft-Tokyo Co. Atsuo Miyazaki is reported in Cebus's Sun Star as saying that Japan’s aging society and shortage of engineers are among the factors that limit the country’s capacity to meet the demand for information technology (IT) services and that Japan "has to face the challenge and go for global sourcing to improve its productivity and enhance its pool of skilled IT engineers."

Accordingly, IT engineers and software companies in the Philippines can take advantage of Japan’s aging population and cater to the Japanese market through offshore development business. The Philippines, he said, has the advantage of having a “bright, flexible and faithful” workforce.

Source: "Filipinos can ‘exploit’ Japan’s aging IT labor" Cebu Sun Star (February 15, 2006)

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

OECD Issues Summary Report on Aging and Employment Policies

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has issued a report--"Live Longer, Work Longer"--that draws out the main lessons that have emerged from the OECD's 21 country reviews in its series on "Ageing and Employment Policies." To help meet the daunting challenges posed by employment and social policies, practices and attitudes that discourage work at an older age, work needs to be made a more attractive and rewarding proposition for older workers. This report disucsses, among other things, work disincentives and barriers to employment, removing work disincentives and increasing choice in work-retirement decisions, changing employer attitudes and employment practices, and improving employability.

Source: News Release OECD (February 13, 2006)

Drake International's Acquisition of Prime50 To Support Mature Workers

Drake International has announced that Prime50, a provider of employment for Canadians over age 50, has become a part of the Drake group of companies. According to Karen Meredith, President of Drake North America, "With Prime50, Drake's ability to link the mature workforce to organizations looking for those valuable skills and experience will be greatly enhanced" "As our population ages, employers face a shortage of skilled workers, while many workers want the opportunity to continue on in rewarding employment that makes use of their talents and experience," Ms. Meredith said. The Prime50 web site provides a job board with job postings by employers, as well as an opportunity for the aged 50+ job seeker to register and post their resume.

Source: News Release (January 31, 2006)

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Staffing Firms Merger Cites Aging Workforce as Driving Force

ZeroChaos, which provides contingent labor management solutions for Fortune 1000 firms, in announcing its acquisition of FlexCorp Systems, a provider of strategic contractor payrolling and staffing solutions to large companies, cited the changing demographics of an aging workforce as crucial to the future needs of its clients:
"In the next four years, nearly 40% of the professional workforce will become retirement eligible," said ZeroChaos CEO Harold Mills. "For large corporations, this aging workforce is creating significant workforce planning concerns. For the employees, the definition of retirement no longer includes fishing or golfing full-time. Companies need the talent and the employees want to work, albeit on their own terms."
FlexCorp Systems founders Irene Cohen and Rick Miners will remain headquartered in New York and specifically focus on helping companies develop their "alumni talent pools", about which the two have authored many articles and books, including Don't Retire, Re-Wire, co-authored by Rick Miners and Jeri Sedlar.

Source: PR Newswire (February 6, 2006)

United Kingdom: Pension Secretary Predicts Rise in Pension Age

According to BBC, the Work and Pensions Secretary John Hutton told a conference organized by the The Work Foundation that some increase in the state pension age from 2020 is "inevitable."
Mr Hutton acknowledged that raising the state pension age was "a fairly blunt tool for changing effective retirement ages".

But he added: "If we aren't prepared to consider the option of raising the state pension age, we will simply pass an even greater burden onto our children."
Source: "Pension age 'set to rise' in 2020" BBC News (February 7, 2006)

Duke Energy Charged with Age Discrimination or 1997 Pension Changes

Mike Drummond reports in The Charlotte Observor that six former and current employees of Duke Energy have filed a lawsuit charging that the company committed age discrimination and violated pension laws when it changed its retirement plan in the late 1990s. Seeking class action status, the plaintiffs claim that as the result of converting the pension plan to a cash balance plan unfairly harmed older workers in violation of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act.

Source: "Duke sued over pension" Charlotte Observer (February 9, 2006)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Companies Providing Two-Location Jobs for Snowbirds

A number of retailers and healthcare providers are implementing snowbird programs, which lets employees shuttle between two locations on a seasonal basis. Thus, as Marilyn Gardner reports in The Christian Science Monitor, for six months of the year, John Johns works as a CVS pharmacist in Sea Isle City, N.J., but every November, he bids his goodbyes and heads to Cocoa Beach, Fla., where, three days a week, he logs 30 hours a week at CVS pharmacies in the area.
In the early 1990s, less than 7 percent of CVS workers were over age 50. By 2005 that figure had risen to 17 percent. "Some need to work," [Steve Wing, director of government programs for CVS,] says. "Some just need to be surrounded by other people."

The company's snowbirds are not entry-level employees. "We're not just using them to pull in carts," Wing says. They include greeting-card specialists, cosmetic consultants, photo supervisors, and managers.

Not all employees who head south for the winter want to work. "Sometimes they just need three or four months off," Wing says. "They can go to Florida, and then we'll rehire them."
Source: "Snowbirds work where it's warm" Christian Science Monitor (February 8, 2008)

Singapore: Companies Commit to Reemploy Retired Workers

Dominique Loh reports for Channel NewsAsia that Singapore's labour movement has signed on 23 companies that have committed to re-employ workers after they retire at 62. In addition, as part of the $30 million effort that the Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers and the Singapore Workforce Development Agency have called the ADVANTAGE! Scheme, the National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) is getting more companies to adjust their work environments, so they can also accommodate older workers.
Some companies say hiring older workers hinge on several factors like work attitude, past performances and the medical and physical well-being of these workers. But NTUC's Secretary-General Lim Boon Heng noted there are other challenges ahead. He said the labour problem for Singapore was even more acute when it comes to women, because they leave the workforce when they start a family to raise children. And as women grow older, the percentage of those who remain in the workforce also drops significantly, and bearing in mind most women also live longer than men. Mr Lim said one way to combat this problem was finding part-time jobs that women can fulfil in the workforce.
Source: " 23 companies pledge to re-employ older workers" (February 7, 2006)

California: Nevada County and Cities Faces Exodus of Older Civil Servants

Brittany Retherford reports in The Union that Nevada City, California, could lose half of its full-time workers to retirement by 2010, that Grass Valley could see 30% retire by 2008, and that Nevada County, the largest employer in the area, stands to lose the most, as 50% of its nearly 1,000 employees were already eligible to retire by the end of 2005. According to Gayle Satchwell, the county’s human resource director, the county has been preparing for the past two years, readying employees with skills to ease into possible promotions and encouraging longtime employees nearing retirement to store their knowledge in manuals and computer programs to be able to be passed down after their departure.

Source: "County work force ages" The Union (February 7, 2006)

Singapore: ADVANTAGE! Scheme Introduced to Provide Incentives for Employers to Hire Older Workers

Singapore's Tripartite Committee on Employability of Older Workers has released its interim report with a range of recommendations to enhance the employability of older workers. The key recommendations are to introduce the "ADVANTAGE! Scheme," consider legislation for the re-employment of workers beyond the statutory retirement age of 62 and set up a Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices.

Under ADVANTAGE!, up to $300,000 may be given per company to motivate and enable employers to recruit older workers and to re-employ them beyond age 62 through:
  1. Job Redesign, such as to defray the cost of equipment, machinery or process review that raise productivity and help older workers.
  2. Training, such as to equip older workers with new skills, enhance their existing skills, or to help them adjust to new work arrangements;
  3. Retention Incentive, which can go up to $1,200 per newly hired mature worker aged 40 and above with secondary school education and below over a period of 12 months, or $1,800 over 18 months.
Other recommendations include:
  • expanding employment opportunities for older workers;
  • enhancing cost competitiveness of older workers;
  • raising skills and value of older workers;
  • shaping positive perceptions towards older workers
Source: Press Release Ministry of Manpower (Janaury 26, 2006)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Opposition to President's Budget Cuts to Senior Job Program

The National Council on the Aging (NCOA) has announced that it will vigorously oppose a $44 million cut and radical restructuring of the the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP) contained in President Bush's proposed budget.
"This short-sighted proposal would be a major setback for low- income older workers and the entire aging network," said Howard Bedlin, NCOA's vice president of Policy and Advocacy. It would end a successful system that currently uses national sponsors to carry out most of the program, by block granting all the money to the states, while eliminating the program's historic commitment to community service.

"Eliminating national sponsors from the program would also make it less effective in serving its target population of low- income seniors," Bedlin added. "The national sponsors have proven expertise in serving difficult-to-reach populations."

In addition, NCOA believes that including this contentious proposal in proposals to reauthorize the Older Americans Act, will derail reauthorization and thus prevent Congress from achieving the top priority of the delegates to the recent once-a- decade White House Conference on Aging.
Source: News Release U.S. Newswire (Feburary 6, 2006)

Linkages Between Early Retirement and Poorer Health

Following up on recent findings of a recent study published in the British Medical Journal that leaving the workforce at age 55 doubled the risk for death before reaching age 65, compared with those who kept working beyond age 60, James Pasternak seeks further confirmation. According to one of the authors of “Age at Retirement and Long Term Survival of an Industrial Population: Prospective Cohort Study,” failing health might have played a role in the younger retirees' higher mortality, but data were not available to assess directly whether poor health was a significant factor and it is not clear why continued employment led to longer life, the researchers wrote.

Pasternak reports that a Social Development Canada study released in May 2001 seems to conclude that health, the age of retirement and life expectancy might be intrinsically linked, with the planned age of retirement increasing by 2.5 years for persons who report their health as fair, rising to 3 years for persons who report their health as excellent. However, "[s]peaking anecdotally, Larry Berdugo, a certified financial planner of Toronto-based Independent Financial Concepts Group Ltd has found that early retirement without a road map can lead to malaise, indifference and reduced life expectancy."

Source: "Early Retirement May be Dangerous to your Health" CARP Online (February 2006)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Chief Information Officers Can Help Prevent Baby Boomer Brain Drain

Wtih the oldest baby boomers six years away from retirement, Susannah Patton, writing for CIO suggests that corporate chief informaton officers should be taking "a leading role in preventing baby boomer brain drain by being prepared to respond quickly when management decides the company needs a KM system to help retain crucial knowledge." She discusses projects at Rolls Royce, Northrop Grumman, and others to ensure that knowledge didn't disappear with retiring employees. Among other things, she provides "3 Easy Steps for Preventing Brain Drain":
1. Identify your vulnerabilities. "Many companies don't know where they are most vulnerable to knowledge loss," says David DeLong, author of Lost Knowledge: confronting the Threat of an Aging Workforce. One way to get around this is by doing an age profile of your workforce by work unit or by function. Determine the average age of employees in each unit and identify who's likely to retire or leave the company for other reasons.

2. Identify types of knowledge at risk. Use interviewing and social network analysis software to find out what knowledge is most valuable. This will help you decide where to focus your knowledge-retention efforts.

3. Choose your tactics. If you're focusing on transferring "tacit" knowledge, or experience that is hard to catalogue, establish mentoring programs or communities of practice that bring older and younger workers together for extended periods. If you need to document information quickly before key employees retire, start developing databases and other repositories.
Source: "Beating the Boomer Brain Drain Blues" CIO: Beating the Boomer Brain Drain Blues (Feburary 3, 2006)

Friday, February 03, 2006

Baby Boomer Employees and Age Discrimination Laws Both Show No Signs of Slowing Down

An article by Jonathan Segal for the Society for Human Resource Management's HR Magazine discusses recent polls showing that baby boomers will continue working longer than prior older workers and statistics showing an increase in age discrimination awards. He points out, therefore, that for employers, a graying workforce creates both opportunity and potential liability. "Opportunity lies in using older workers’ skills to fill gaps occasioned by the declining birth rate. But liability will arise if your organization improperly excludes, marginalizes or tosses aside older workers. They will fight back, and they will find strong allies in juries."

Analyzing federal and state age discrimination laws, Segal points out difficulties employers may have in mandating the retirement of high executives, whether voluntary retirement program incentives are really voluntary, and issues about the protection of older workers (over 40) as opposed to "older older" workers (closer to 65).

Source: "Time Is on Their Side" HR Magazine (February 2006)

Candadian Trucking Company Looks to Outside Retirees for Drivers

According to an article by Steven Macleod in Truck News, Coastal Pacific Xpress Inc. (CPX) is recruiting early retirees, among others, to address a critical driver shortage in the industry. Jim Mickey, general manager at CPX, says that people who have retired early from a career outside of trucking make for great truckers because they're motivated, mature, and reliable.
"We greatly value early retirees, people in their 50s, and we believe a career at CPX can work for them," said Mickey. "They may have retired from a job in another industry and still want to stay active. Or, a husband and wife may wish to travel and earn an income at the same time." Often, couples will buy and drive their own trucks instead of driving a company vehicle a "dream situation," said Mickey. He said it offers potential annual earnings of $100,000 per couple.
Source: "CPX eyes young, old workers to alleviate driver shortage" Truck News (February 3, 2006)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Ohio: Pushing To Eliminate Social Security Offset for Unemployment Benefits

According to a report in the Canton Repository, "[a]dvocates for seniors and the jobless are pushing for changes that would allow Social Security recipients who work to draw full unemployment benefits if they lose their job." Policy Matters Ohio is a nonprofit research organization that advocates changing the state’s system, and Ohio’s Unemployment Compensation Advisory Council, which makes recommendations to lawmakers, is expected to discuss the reduction at a meeting Feb. 8.

Source: "Social Security recipients see jobless benefits reduced" The Canton (OH) Repository (Janaury 31, 2006)

Additional Resources:
A Janaury 22, 2006 article in the Columbus Dispatch says that Rep. William J. Seitz, Cincinnati, a Republican state lawmaker, is pushing to end Ohio's "offset" of Social Security. He hopes "to help our senior citizens who are rudely awakened to find their Social Security benefits are offset against their unemployment comp benefits when they have to get a second job merely because Social Security isn't enough."

See prior article on the AARP campaigns to repeal Social Security offset provisions in state unemployment laws.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Commentary: Youthfulness and the Older Worker

Judith Timson writes in the Globe and Mail that for older workers wanting to be professionally wanted in a youth-obsessed culture have apparently found a solution--"We're not young any more, we're 'youthful.'"
Whenever I read the word "youthful" applied to anyone over 40, as it is frequently these days, I ask myself: Is this relentless need to redefine the middle-aged as young -- or, more importantly, not old -- a desperate bid by the boomers to hold on to the spotlight at all costs?

Or have we successfully reframed the idea of aging and, with all sorts of new cosmetic, spiritual and physical avenues, simply set the bar higher for how we are all supposed to look and feel?
Referring to the "countless articles and websites offering advice to midlife job seekers worried about appearing old," she says many are absurdly obvious, but she also senses that women in today's work force still have to worry more about aging than men do. However, she suggests that looking good (not necessarily youthful) and looking fit are especially important for older workers looking to get ahead. On the other side, there are certain behaviours that signal "older worker:" "Going to a business event, for example, and reminiscing about the past the whole time -- not a good thing. A few old combat stories are fine but then go ask younger colleagues what stirs their interests in your field these days. You have to stay curious to stay youthful."

Source: "Youthful is as youthful does" The Globe and Mail (February 1, 2006)

Asia: University of Chicago Executive MBA Program Attracts Older Ages

Writing in The Korea Times, Chung Ah-young reports on an executive MBA (EMBA) program that will help seniors successfully continue developing their business skills over their long careers in an aging society. According to the article, "Beth Bader, managing director of the EMBA Asia program of Graduate School of Business of the University of Chicago in the United States, said getting an adult education and continued investment in oneself, through the EMBA course, are crucial in almost any field, for successful long-term careers."
``People begin to realize they don’t want to spend their whole or half their life just declining as they are getting older. In a sense, they can reinvent themselves, if they want to do that. Or they can make a very significant jump in their abilities and flexibilities in the very specialized business program,’’ Bader said.

She stressed that in societies with aging populations, people hope to work longer.

``That’s why I predict more demands for the EMBA course for older ages and more mature-aged students here in Korea and other aging countries. Particularly, business in Korea has been much more mature. People are going to need to work a lot longer than they have done in the past. I think it has happened already in the United States,’’ she said.
Source: "Executive MBA Program Targets Seniors" The Korea Times (February 1, 2006)