Friday, March 31, 2006

Europe's and Japan's Aging Populations Deterent To Participating in Coming Global Ecnomic Growth

Cisco Systems has released a report showing that, by the year 2020, a new global economic paradigm will emerge defined by the globalization of companies, the increased role of knowledge workers and the personalization of customer experiences as key factors to economic success, with the United States, China and India driving more than half of that growth, while economies of Europe and Japan due to aging workforces or relatively lower levels of productivity will be face challenges.

According to Foresight 2020 Economic, industry and corporate trends, prepared by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the consequences of aging population dynamics will exert a
profound influence on economic development patterns. Some countries will age faster than others. Take the old-age dependency ratios (the over-65s as a share of the population aged 15-64). Whereas the ratio in the EU25 will reach almost one-third in 2020 (it was 25% in 2005), in the US it will rise to only 25%, from 19% in 2005. Japan’s fertility rate, at 1.3 births per woman of child-bearing age, is among the lowest in the developed world. By 2020, the old-age dependency ratio will have risen to 46% (from 29% in 2005). Among the potential risks are slower economic growth, financial-market instability and difficulties in funding pension systems. Countries will have to offset the rising share of pensioners by getting the unemployed into jobs, by making people work longer and by encouraging immigration. More women will be drawn into the workforce, too.

Source: News Release Cisco Systems, Inc. (March 30, 2006)

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Canada: Statistics Show a New Retirement

According to New Frontiers of Research on Retirement, a new book released by Statistics Canada, broad social changes are forcing Canadians to rethink their traditional ideas about retirement. Looking at the effect of the baby boom generation's pending retirement, the report centres on four main themes:
  • Gender differences: Women are much more likely than men to see retirement as involving more than just getting a pension or stopping paid work.
  • Joint retirement: The growing number of women with substantial pension benefits is having a major impact on decisions about retirement in Canadian families. For more and more couples, decision-making is becoming much more complex.
  • Maintaining a standard of living in retirement: Amid growing uncertainty about their future financial security, an increasing number of people do not know when they will retire. Others have simply delayed their retirement.
  • Flexibilty of retirement paths as some workers opt for self-employment: With a massive wave of retirement looming among baby boomers, the labour supply from older workers will grow in importance. Many will likely choose to become self-employed, making flexible retirement paths more prevalent.
Source: The Daily Statistics Canada (March 27, 2006)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Trucking Industry Getting Help from AARP To Find Older Drivers

In a story for the Worcester Telegram & Gazette News, Martin Luttrell writes that "AARP is hoping to convince some older Americans to step away from their office Macs and into a Mack truck for a second career, hauling freight on the nation’s highways." Working in partnership with the American Trucking Associations and the Truckload Carriers Association, as part of AARP's Alliance for an Experienced Workforce, AARP is recruiting from its membership through AARP the Magazine and the AARP Bulletin.

However, Luttrell says that truck drivers surveyed for his report had mixed responses on how well 50-and-over workers would respond to the program. "Some drivers were enthusiastic, saying that driving is a good second career for someone in an age bracket that has generally good driving skills. Others said long hours, time away from home and low pay would be obstacles."

Source: "AARP, trucking industry seek older drivers to plug hiring gap" Worcester Telegram & Gazette News (March 27, 2006)

Corporate Retiree Health Benefits Continue To Be Scaled Back

Sylvester J. Schieber, director of U.S. benefits consulting at Watson Wyatt Worldwide, writes that the combination of rising health care costs and Medicare coverage means that retiree benefits, as we know them, are disappearing.
As Medicare begins to cover prescription drugs in 2006, the biggest gap in medical benefits for most retirees will be filled. For those 65 and older, coverage from their former employer may no longer be necessary. The large-scale trend away from employer-provided retiree medical benefits not only will continue; it's likely to accelerate.
While the bottom line is that U.S. companies that finance retiree medical benefits are at a competitive disadvantage compared to other companies in their industry that do not offer the benefits so that, over the long term, the inability to compete on costs may inevitably threaten the viability of any company that provides rich retiree health benefits, there is still a need for insurance coverage by those who retire before age 65. "Our challenge is to develop alternate approaches for workers to accumulate assets to cover their insurance and out-of-pocket health costs during retirement, but to do so in affordable and sustainable ways that allow U.S. companies to compete and continue to serve the needs of future retirees."

Source: "Retiree medical benefits-past, present and future" Employee Benefit News (March 2006)

Friday, March 24, 2006

Knowledge Management and Changing Workforces

Jim Murphy, Research Director for AMR Research, writes that, with the urgency of an aging workforce facing companies around the world, "it’s easy to lose a sense of balance. Stemming the brain drain, for many companies, means putting every ounce of effort into capturing what’s in an employee’s head before she walks out the door. HR organizations exert extraordinary effort here, urging departing employees to use their dwindling time to document their knowledge and cram it into a repository."

However, he says that a lack of consideration for transfer and reuse parts of the knowledge management (KM) process can stymie efforts and that, once in the repository, there’s little guarantee that the valuable knowledge ever emerges again. Thus, companies "have got to think ahead. Better KM strategies must account for and capitalize upon the skills and expertise of the incoming workforce, along with the tools they’re already accustomed to and adept at using.

On April 3, 2006, from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. EST, AMR Research will conduct a live webcast on The Aging Workforce.

Source: "Harnessing Potential: Knowledge Management and Your Incoming Workforce" AMR Research (March 23, 2006)

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Towers Perrin Survey Finds Risks, Challenges wtih Defined Benefit Plans

According to a new Towers Perrin survey of senior financial executives in the United States, more than two-thirds of them believe that available solutions to the major risks posed by defined benefit pension plans are usually too expensive or ineffective. The survey, A Problem in Search of Solutions: A Study of Defined Benefit Pensions, reports that the "potential financial impact of a pension plan on an organization is clearly top of mind among plan sponsors and would be significant enough for many executives to consider freezing their plans." Of those surveyed, 32% had already closed their plan to new entrants.

Cecil Hemingway, principal and head of the Legacy Pension Solutions unit at Towers Perrin, says that the study shows that "these plans are still an important employee benefit at many companies," but that CFOs and other financial executives "see a clear link between plan risk and its potential impact on cost of capital, rating changes and other threats to their business plans." He suggests that, as new solutions become available, "plan sponsors need to expand their abilities to assess and evaluate these choices to ultimately determine which best fits their companies' pension situation." However, comparatively few companies have adopted sophisticated processes for evaluating pension risks holistically and over the longer term.

Source: News Release Towers Perrin (March 22, 2006)

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Opinion: Age-Based Salary Questioned

Writing as the "Underground Economist" for Slate, Tim Harford, a columnist for the Financial Times, takes on the decades of economic studies that "have produced the conclusion that average wages increase with age almost until retirement, yet average productivity seems to be flat or perhaps even declining after the age of 50." While he recognizes that seniority wages are probably here to stay as long as it is hard to reward good performance instantly and accurately, he suggests that if wages could track productivity better, as they do for the self-employed, both older and younger workers could be better off:
Young workers can rightly grumble that they are paid a pittance for doing valuable work. Older workers also have good cause to worry: They are being subsidized, but subsidies are expensive, and that means they have every reason to fear the sack. Wouldn't it make more sense for young workers to be paid a bit more, old workers to be paid a bit less, nobody to feel exploited, and nobody to fear premature retirement?
Source: "Fire Grandpa! Hire Junior! - Why older workers are paid way too much, and younger workers way too little" Slate (March 18, 2006)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Pension Freezes: EBRI Research Shows Who’s Affected and by How Much

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) has published a new analysis that quantifies how workers are likely to be affected by pension freezes, and how much they would have to save in a 401(k)--whether provided by their employer and/or saved by themselves--to offset the loss of accrued benefits from the pension freeze. According to Defined Benefit Plan Freezes: Who's Affected, How Much, and Replacing Lost Accurals, in the March 2006 EBRI Issue Brief No. 921, how an individual worker might be affected by a pension freeze varies widely, based on the terms and natuyre of each plan, but the data “illustrate the general impact of age and tenure: Older, longer-tenure workers tend to be affected by a pension freeze more than younger workers because they do not have as much time left in their working careers in a 401(k) plan to offset the accrual loss from a pension freeze.”

Generally, the report finds that:
  • Workers in career-average pension plans would have to save a median amount of about 7% of their annual salary to replace the lost accrual benefits from a pension freeze;<
  • Workers in final-average pension plans would have to save a median amount of about
    8% percent of their annual salary;
  • Workers in cash balance plans would have to save about 3% percent of their annual
An Executive Summary of the report is also available.

Source: Press Release Employee Benefit Research Institute (March 8, 2006)

Monday, March 20, 2006

Commentary: Raising Social Security Age Wrong Response to Longer Lives

William Saletan, who covers science and technology for Slate, responds to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report on aging with its bad news that we are living longer and its good news that we are staying healthy longer by challenging "the intuitive remedy is to raise the retirement age [for Social Security benefits] well beyond the measly increases currently scheduled."

According to Saletan, inequality in how individuals age means that age is a bad proxy for disability, which is a good proxy for need, and that "abolishing age as a standard of fitness would be fairer than simply raising the eligibility age." In addition, he notes that in encouraging the "young old"--the current, healthier experience of being 65 to 74--to keep working, the ADEA has been effective in rooting out rampant age discrimination. He also points out that U.S. jobs have gotten much less strenuous for 65-year-olds since Social Security was created m 1935.

Source: "Curse of the Young Old" The Washington Post (March 19, 2006)

Portion of Older Managers at Restaurants Is Rising

According to a story by Karen Robinson-Jacobs in The Dallas Morning News, although restaurant management has been mostly a young man's game becaue of its long hours, steamy kitchens, and ache-inducing physical demands, "more managers are hawking hamburgers and hash well into their golden years, pulled by sweetened industry incentives and a desire to stay active-–maybe nine-hours-on-your-feet active."

A People Report analysis of data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that, between 2000 and 2005, the number of restaurant managers ages 25 to 44 dipped from 55% to 54%, while the number of 45- to 64-year-old managers grew from 28% to 33%.
Restaurant companies looking to maintain the skill level found in its veterans are focusing on keeping them on board, said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president for research with the National Restaurant Association.

"It makes sense – particularly at larger companies that have human resource functions that are planning out long term – that when they look ahead, they obviously are going to work harder at retaining those individuals," said Mr. Riehle, mentioning more 401(k) and profit-sharing plans as deal enhancers.

"Unless you have the skill set, customer counts can suffer."
Source: "A little aging helps" Dallas Morning News (March 18, 2006)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Senate Committee on Aging Holds Hearing on Bridging Gender Retirement Gap

On March 15, Oregon Sen. Gordon Smith, chairman of the Special Committee on Aging, held a hearing Wednesday titled "Bridging the Gender Gap: Eliminating Retirement Income Disparity for Women," with a goal of highlighting the challenges faced by women in planning for retirement and to find ways to increase women's savings rates. In his opening statement, Smith pointed out that in addition to earning less than men, many women spend significant periods of time out of the workforce raising children or taking care of elderly parents and are more likely to work part-time or work in industries where employers are less likely to offer retirement benefits. He also pointed to legislative initiatives that he has undertaken to close the geneder gap, as did ranking Democrat Sen. Herb Kohl in his opening statement.

The commitee heard from two sets of witnesses. In the first panel were Jean Chatzky, editor-at-large for Money Magazine and financial editor for NBC’s Today Show, Cindy Hounsell, executive director, Women’s Institute for a Secure Retirement (WISER), Barbara B. Kennelly, President, National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, and Dr. Jack L. VanDerhei, EBRI Fellow, Employee Benefit Research Institute. In the second panel were Karyne Jones, President and Chief Executive Officer, The National Caucus and Center on Black Aged, Inc., Sara C. Hart, Director, Corporate Benefits, CNF Service Company, and Lynn Rollins, Senior Advisor, Women’s Issues to New York Governor Pataki.

A webcast of the hearings is available online.

In addition, women advocacy organizations, members of Americans for Secure Retirement (ASR), told the Committee about the particulary pressing challenges women face to achieving financial security and independence in retirement. The groups urged the Committee to adopt policies that encourage annuitization as a way to help women ensure a steady stream of income for life.

Source: Press Release Americans for Secure Retirement (March 15, 2006)

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

OPM Chief Calls for Transitional Emploiyment for Older Federal Workers

According to a report by Karen Rutzick in Government Executive, Office of Personnel Management Director Linda Springer has said that federal employees should be able to work fewer hours in their later career, staving off full retirement. She wants part-time arrangements for longtime federal employees to become common and easier to arrange, as a piece of a plan to cope with an aging workforce in what she termed a "transformation of the mindset."
As part of her agency's commitment to expanding part-time work arrangements, Springer cited a legislative proposal offered in the fiscal 2007 budget, which would remove a penalty to employees in the Civil Service Retirement System for working part-time. The director said OPM is looking to find more ways to promote part-time work.
Springer suggested that many employees want to continue their work in some capacity even after becoming elible for retirement, but "don't want to have to work 40 hours a week." However, she said that instead of boomerangers"--baby-boom generation employees who leave the federal workforce for retirement and then return--she wants employees who "don't leave in the first place," instead opting to cut their hours.

Source: "OPM director pushes part-time work in lieu of retirement" Government Executive (March 14, 2006)

Column: Census Report Brings Good News About Aging

Writing a column for Bloomberg News, Andrew Ferguson hails the good news coming out of the U.S. Census Bureau report on aging. After 20 years of reading "policy weenies" portending national bankruptcy from "the Graying of America, the Aging of the Workforce, the Baby Boom Bust, the Coming Collapse in Unfunded Entitlements," Ferguson hails the picture the Census Bureau presents "of an aging generation that will be working (and paying taxes) longer and placing fewer and less costly demands on the health care and pension systems than we expected."

Source: "An Aging Population Isn't Bad News After All" Bloomberg News (March 14, 2006)

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Aging Workers: What To Look for In Workplace Safety

In an article for Occupational Hazards, Robert Pater, managing director of Strategic Safety Associates, argues that, for workplace safety strategists, it is critical to plan for the impacts of an aging work force. In particular, he suggests tht one consider five changes that happen as we age that can directly affect workplace safety:
  • changes in balance,
  • reduced flexibility,
  • impacts on attention, vision, and memory,
  • diminishing usable strength, and
  • slowing reaction times.
For each of these, he suggests some solutions that transfer skills and methods that will help workers become safer, stronger and more in control, even as they age.

Source: "Safety Catalyst: Boosting Safety With an Aging Work Force" Occupational Hazards (March 13, 2006)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

United Kingdom: Report On Employer Practices Relating to Age

The Department for Work and Pensions, in conjunction with the Department of Trade and Industry, has issued "Survey of employers’ policies, practices and preferences" (Research Report 325), which explores the extent to which current employment policies and practices accord with equal opportunity with respect to age.

The report provides findings from a quantitative survey of around 2000 employers in Great Britain, and was designed as a baseline to evaluate the effects of the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations that take effect in 2006. It provides information on practices relating to equal opportunities, pay and benefits, retirement, recruitment, appraisal, training, promotion and redundancy as well as attitudes and awareness.

Source: Press Release Department for Work and Pensions (March 9, 2006)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Germany: Incentives Announced To Encourage Staying on the Job

In response to criticism of the government's plan to raise the retirement age to 67, Germany's labor minister has announced a package of incentives aimed at helping older workers remain on the job longer. According to an article in Deutsche Welle, Labor Minister Franz M√ľntefering's "50 plus" plan includes state bonuses to support elderly workers in low-wage jobs and financial incentives for employers willing to hire people over 50.
Demographic forecasts indicate Germany's population is greying rapidly, with the age increase accompanied by a decrease in the number of working people who pay into social security. That is making it difficult for the state's pension system to cover growing retirement costs. In the view of M√ľntefering and his colleagues in the governing coalition of Social Democrats and the Christian Union bloc, getting more people to work longer seemed like the right idea.
Source: "Government Unveils Plans to Keep Seniors Working Longer" Deutsche Welle (March 9,2006)

Census Bureau Highlights Dramatic Changes in U.S.Aging

The U.S. Censusu Bureau has issued a report commissioned by the National Institute on Aging (NIA), a component of the National Institutes of Health, that shows that today’s older Americans are very different from their predecessors, living longer, having lower rates of disability, achieving higher levels of education and less often living in poverty. Among other things. according to "65+ in the United States: 2005", the proportion of Americans with at least a bachelor’s degree grew five-fold from 1950 to 2003, from 3.4% to 17.4% and by 2030, more than one-fourth of the older population is expected to have an undergraduate degree.

Work and retirement was a major focus of the economics section of the report, including such topics as labor force participation rights, transitions to retirement, the work status of older workers, the health, wealth, and education of older workers, reasons for retirement, retirement preparedness, and retirement of the baby boom generation.

Source: Press Release US Census Bureau (March 9, 2006)

Intel Chairman Says IT Industry is Ageist

According to a story by Tom Espiner for ZDNet UK, Craig Barrett, chairman of the board of Intel, criticised the IT industry for being ageist when it comes to recruitment and urged older IT professionals to combat this bias by retraining. Barrett, speaking at roundtable event in conjunction with Age Concern, said "[w]orkplaces should recognise the need for skills, as opposed to having to train people from scratch." and that businesses should focus on ongoing training for staff so they don't become obsolete, while governments should subsidise retraining for the over 50's.
But IT professionals also need to play a role in their own training according to Tristan Wilkinson, the UK public sector director for Intel told ZDNet UK. "If your skill-set is associated with a technology that's approaching the end of its natural life, then you are faced with a choice — you can reskill [sic], or you can follow that technology to the end," he said. "You need to audit yourself and be aware of changes in technology."

However Industry watchers have warned that public sector organisations as well as banks and other financial services companies face a potential legacy skills time bomb. As an aging population of technology workers retire, there could be a severe lack of expertise in programming languages such as COBOL and Fortran.
Source: "'IT industry is ageist' says Intel chairman" ZDNet UK News(March 9, 2006)

Thursday, March 09, 2006

United Kingdom: DTI Issues Final Age Discrimination Regulations

The final measures to outlaw age discrimination in the workplace in United Kingdom have been published by Trade and Industry Secretary Alan Johnson today. According to Johnson, "Ageism will affect more people, at some stage in their lives, than any other form of discrimination. But until now the law of the land has allowed it to continue. With these new regulations it will become illegal for workers to miss out on recruitment, promotion or training because of prejudice about their age"

Among other things, the regulations will:
  • ban age discrimination in terms of recruitment, promotion and training;
  • ban unjustified retirement ages of below 65; and
  • remove the current age limit for unfair dismissal and redundancy rights.
  • provide a right for employees to request working beyond retirement age and a duty on employers to consider that request;
  • require employers to give at least six months notice to employees about their intended retirement date.
At the time of this posting, the final regulations had not yet been posted to the web, but a draft version was available.

Source: News Release Department of Trade and Industry (March 9, 2006)

Russia: Putin Standing By Pension System in Face of Declining Population

According to a report from Lisa McAdams on Voice of America, no country faces as severe a population decline as Russia. "According to the most recent forecasts, Russia's population of 143 million people is expected to decrease by 22% between now and the year 2050. If the figures are borne out, Russia could lose up to 42% of its active working population." Nevertheless, Russian President Putin recently rejected calls to abolish Russia's state pension fund and return to a more Soviet-style system, whereby the elderly would rely on their children, rather than the state, for essential support.
President Putin says Russia will never abandon the pension system. Instead, he says, his government is looking at ways to make it better, especially the question of how to increase today's contributions to the fund so that it can keep up with the expected rise in demand for payouts, with nearly 20 percent of the Russian population now 60 years of age or older.
Source: "Russia Losing Battle in Population Growth to Disease, Low Birth Rates" VOA News (March 8, 2006)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Are the "Best Companies To Work For" Ageist?

According to research carried out by Dr Sharon Bolton, Lancaster University Management School, the annual "The Sunday Times Best Companies to Work For" do not generally reflect age diversity. While companies in the list use it as a tool to position themselves as "employers of choice" and they appear to offer the magical formula of making work fun, Bolton suggests that this "party" culture is also an exclusive club for the under 35's. Analysis of The Best Companies to Work For 2005 reveals that, on average, 56% of employees working for "best companies" are under 35 and only 6% over 55 years old, compared to only 36% of the general working population being under 35 and 15% over 55.
“Top 100 companies are defined by their approach to best practice people management and described by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) as a ‘key benchmark’. If these companies are the ‘best’ then they should be investigated as to how this links to the ‘best’ for a diverse workforce. Currently, there is no scrutiny of issues such as gender, race and disability. Given the references to the aging workforce, a demographic time bomb and growing structural inequalities, the UK government should be pointing out that the ‘best’ companies are missing out on some of the ‘best’ the UK labour market has to offer.”
Source: News Release Lancaster University Management School (March 7, 2006)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Labor Department Solicits Grant Applications for Senior Community Service Employment

The Employment and Training Administration of the U.S. Department of Labor has published a notice of availability of funds and solicitation for grant applications for the national grants portion of the Senior Community Service Employment Program. $341 million is being made available for projects that will promote part-time work-based training opportunities in local communities for unemployed, low-income individuals who are age 55 and over, and will foster increased prospects for their economic self-sufficiency. SCSEP is the only nationwide Federal program that focuses on training and placing older individuals into community work-based training and unsubsidized employment.

DOL is especially interested in organizations that demonstrate a partnership with local One-Stop Career Centers and community colleges and that promote employment through high growth job opportunities. Applicants are required to apply for contiguous locations within a state.

The closing date for receipt of applications is April 17, 2006. Full details are available on the DOL website.

Source: Summary Federal Register (March 2, 2006)

U.S. Labor Secretary Opens SAVER Summit To Develop Strategies for Enhancing Retirement Security

The U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao opened the 2006 SAVER Summit by challenging delegates to develop strategies for enhancing retirement security. The Summit is to address obstacles to savings faced by four groups-—new labor market entrants, low-income wage earners, small business employers and their employees, and workers nearing retirement.

Chao's address focused on President Bush’s agenda on pension reform and the Administration’s commitment to work with Congress to pass pension reform legislation that "strengthens the funding of pension plans, provides transparency of information for workers, and stabilizes the federal pension insurance system." Secretary Chao also stressed the importance of access to professional investment advice to improve the choice, control and confidence workers have in their retirement saving plans.

Source: News Release U.S. Department of Labor (March 1, 2006)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

United Kingdom: London Assembly Reports On Improving Working Environment for Over-50's

The London Assembly has issued a report finding that the city is the worst place in England to look for a job if you are over 50 years of age. According to the report from the Assembly’s Economic Development, Culture, Sport and Tourism Committee--“UB50?: Access to the labour market for people over 50 in London", inner London has the highest rate of unemployment amongst people over 50 in the whole of the country--twice the national average, and more than 20% of London’s unemployed are over 50. In addition, the report says that recent research found that one in five managers and personnel officers admitted to discriminating against workers on the grounds of age.

While the Assembly welcomes the coming age discrimination protection laws in Britain, it said more neded to be one to help older Londoners. It recommended that:
  • there needs to be a coordinated and integrated approach to employment services for older people in London, within an over-arching strategy,
  • more accurate research is needed to establish the numbers of older people looking for work, to ensure that the support services for older people receive the funding levels they require, and
  • the London Learning and Skills Councils need to prioritise people over 50 for education and training support.
Source: News Release London Assembly (February 28, 2006)

Aging Workforce Driving Businesses To Focus on Human Capital Management

The imminent retiring of an aging workforce and the lack of experienced managers to replace them has led corporate universities to transform their operations to attract, retain and excite the best talent. An article by Jeanne C. Meister in Chief Learning Officer examines how and if corporate universities are offering the right learning to create the business results senior executives demand. She points out that the demographic combination as created a "looming talent management crisis, where an enterprise-wide view of human capital management is more important than ever. But more than anything else, CEOs are starting to see a connection between human capital management and improved workforce performance and productivity. This expanded mission of human capital management is now part of the agenda for corporate universities, and many are reinventing themselves in order to deliver the necessary business outcomes."

Source: "Corporate Universities: What Works and What Doesn’t" Chief Learning Officer (March 2006)

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Employers Extending Flexibiliy to Working Snowbirds

Striking a similar theme to a Christian Science Monitor article, Jenn Abelson reports in the Boston Globe about employers, such as CVS, Borders, and Home Depot, that fear labor shortages as baby boomers age and allow workers to transfer to stores in warmer regions during winter. While the snowbird perk is usually available to all employees, it is mainly aimed at older workers. In fact, she reports that CVS has specifically "tried to attract older workers by tapping into senior centers to recruit staff and accommodating employees who have time-shares and second homes."

In addition, to the two-location workers, Ableson notes that employers, such as Bright Horizons, that are already used to offering flexible work environments for employees with young families are finding that older workers are now desiring them, too. Over the past five years, the number of Bright Horizons workers age 55 years and older jumped 81% to 1,054 from 583,and the company says it's willing to accommodate people, even if they want to work from home in warmer locations. Hoffer Serpa, a Bright Horizons spokeswoman, is quoted as saying: "There's a shift that recognized the fact that people without children have their own desires and needs for flexibility, whether it's caring for older parents or changing the place they live....It's easier to retain people than train people and so we want to help support people in every part of their life."

Source: "Snowbirds at work" The Boston Globe (March 1, 2006)

MetLife Survey Finds Employers and Employees Concerned About Aging Workforce, but Not Addressing It

According to the 2005/2006 MetLife Employee Benefits Trend Study, 34% of all employers (and 46% with 25,000 or more workers) agree that the aging workforce will have a significant impact on their company, yet 79% have not taken any steps to accommodate older workers. At the same time, 33% of Baby Boomers have not yet determined when they plan to retire from work, and 58% of young Boomers (age 41-50) are worried that they will have to work either full- or part-time to live comfortably during retirement and 61% say that "outliving retirement money" is their number one retirement-related fear.
"Employers that make a long-term commitment to accommodate their older workers – not just through the physical environment or flexible work schedules, but by providing access to critical employee benefits that can protect an individual throughout their lifetime – will reap the benefits. Many older workers feel a strong sense of loyalty to their companies and expect the same in return. At a time when Baby Boomers are nearing retirement – and increased longevity is enabling many of them to work productively well into their 70s and 80s – older workers may prove to be the solution to the impending talent shortage. It’s crucial for companies to identify a strategy for retaining trained, experienced workers and keeping them satisfied and engaged," notes [Maria R.] Morris [, executive vice president, Institutional Business].
Source: Press Release MetLife (February 28, 2006)