Thursday, August 31, 2006

Survey: Nursing Management Reports on Aging Workforce and Nursing Shortage

According to Medical News Today, the July issue of Nursing Management features an exclusive "Aging Workforce Survey" of nearly 1,000 nurses that demonstrates the lack of comprehensive strategies designed to retain aging nurses. The complete Survey along with retention recommendations can be purchased online.

Among other things, the survey reports that more than 55% of the (mostly) managers who responded to the survey will retire between 2011 and 2020, combined with a rising exodus of nurse employees during the same time and that the operating room and postoperative anesthesia care unit have the oldest employees and are therefore at the highest risk for a staffing crisis.

Source: Medical News Today "Nursing Management's Aging Workforce Survey Finds Lack Of Retention Strategies May Escalate Nursing Shortage" (August 31, 2006)

EEOC Issues Proposed Regulaton Permitting Employers To Favor Older Individuals

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued a proposed regulation under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) to reflect a Supreme Court decision interpreting the ADEA as permitting employers to favor older individuals because of age. Under a prior regulation, overturned by the Court in 2004, the EEOC prohibited any age-based preference between persons age 40 or over, regardless of whether the treatment favors older or younger persons.

However, the Supreme Court rejected claims that favoritism toward older workers violated the ADEA and concluded Congress only intended "to protect a relatively old worker from discrimination that works to the advantage of the relatively young." Accordingly, if adopted after notice and comment, the final EEOC regulation will state:
Favoring an older individual over a younger individual because of age is not unlawful discrimination under the Act, even if the younger individual is at least 40 years old.
In addition, the EEOC regulations will be revised with respect to advertising to provide that "employers may post help wanted notices or advertisements expressing a reference for older individuals with terms such as over age 60, retirees, or supplement your pension."

Source: Federal Register Notice of proposed rulemaking (August 11, 2006)

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Switzerland: Employer Group Counsels Firms on Keeping Older Workers

According to a report in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, Rudolf Stämpfli, president of Schweizerischer Arbeitgeberverband--Switzerland's main employer group, has called on companies to extend the working lives of older employees to guarantee their retirement. At a news conference addressing aging issues, Stämpfli said that employers and society as a whole need to show greater flexibility over the question of Switzerland's ageing workforce and be more aware of the qualities of older workers.

Among other things, the employer group believes that companies' human resources strategies should be properly adapted to the older workforce. In addition to improving the counselling of employees throughout their careers, it recommends introducing alternative employment practices, including a flexible retirement age and part-time work.

A copy of Stämpfli's remarks at the press conference are available in both German and French.

Source: Neue Zürcher Zeitung (English) "Employers urge greater focus on older workers" (August 29, 2006)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

EBRI Report Shows that Regular 401(k) Savers Doing Well

The Employee Benefit Research Institute (EBRI) and the Investment Company Institute (ICI) have jointly issued a report showing that the average account balance among U.S. workers who consistently held 401(k) accounts from 1999 through 2005 increased 50% despite one of the worst bear markets since the Great Depression.

According to the study--“401(k) Plan Asset Allocation, Account Balances, and Loan Activity in 2005”--average account balances rose to $102,014 at year-end 2005 from $67,785 at year-end 1999 among participants who maintained accounts for the entire period.
“The data demonstrate the power of persistence and the impact it has on an individual’s ability to accumulate sizeable gains in a 401(k) account,” said ICI Senior Economist Sarah Holden, a co-author of the study.
The average account balance for consistent participants in their 60's rose nearly 12% over the same period.

Source: Employee Benefits Research Institute Press Release and Investment Company Institute Press Release (August 24, 2006)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Australia: "Stubborn Streak" Keeps Older Workers Working?

According to an article by Cameron Stewart, as Australia gets greyer and the baby boomer generation enters its twilight years, jobs are not shifting as people once thought they would: "The grey-haired warriors are staying put in their jobs, shutting out younger wannabes and declaring that retirement is for wimps."
"The Prime Minister has set the example, he is leading the pack," says Allan McLean, director of the National Ageing Research Institute. "We now know that stopping work suddenly is bad for you. It can kill you."
Among other things, Stewart also cites the results of a survey of retirement intentions released early in 2006 by AXA Australia taht found that almost two-thirds of baby boomers are planning to have some form of paid job in their retirement years and that today's average retirement age of 59 is set to increase, with most people expecting to retire at 62 or older.

Source: The Australian"Retiring for wimps, say grey warriors" (August 21 2006)

Monday, August 14, 2006

United Kingdom: Trades Union Congress Says One Miillion Over-50's Being Dumped by Employers

According to a Trade Union Congress (TUC) report, over one million 50-65 year olds who want to work can't get a job because employers won't recruit older workers or retain the ones they already employ by investing in training or making minor adjustments for disabilities.

The report--"Ready willing and able"--despite an average retirement age of 63, only 12% of non-working 50-65 year olds fit the stereotype of "early retired, affluent professionals," only a third retire early "fully voluntarily" and many survive on state support such as Incapacity Benefit or inadequate occupational pensions until they reach state pension age (65 for men, 60 for women but rising to 65 between 2010-2020).

The TUC calls on employers and government to defuse the "demographic timebomb" of a rapidly ageing workforce being pushed out of jobs and on to benefits and early pensions by introducing policies and practices to retain and recruit workers over 50.

Source: Trades Union Congress News Release (August 14, 2006)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Gray Ceiling and Generation X

In the August 21, 2006 issue of Fortune Magazine, senior writer Anne Fisher writes about Generation X as a generation of workers that can't get ahead because aging boomers above them won't budge, and offers them some advice for how to break through the "Gray Ceiling"--"increasingly, younger workers are finding that no matter how many hours they put in or how much their bosses rave about their work, they're just plain stuck."

According to Fisher, employers helped build the Gray Ceiling during the late '90s by, among other things, starting to campaign to keep older workers kicking around. However, many companies are unaware that they have created a Gray Ceiling and companies that don't "realize that if they aren't focused on how to keep Gen Xers happy will inevitably find that somebody else is." Gen Xers report that 51% have been given a fancier title--"the addition of the word "special" or "specialist" to a title is particularly in vogue."--in the past two years, yet 47% say they're still doing the same job.

The postive things companies are doing to keep their younger workers include moderated diversity training with both boomers and Gen Xers, rotating young talent throughout the organization, and making tuition reimbursement programs more generous. For Gen Xers, themselves, their strategies may be jumping into a different industry or a foreign market or starting a new venture; while risky, "staying put in a going-nowhere job may be an even bigger gamble."

Source: Fortune Magazine "Middle management Hell: Have you outgrown your job?" (August 9, 2006)

United Kingdom: Industry by Industry Reports on Tackling Age Discrimination and Promoting Age Diversity in Employment

The Age Partnership Group has issued research that encourages employers to tackle age discrimination practices and recognise the benefits of older workers. Each of nine industry sector-specific reports look at the challenges faced by the sector relating to the recruitment, training and retention of older workers.

Specifically, the nine sector research reports include Business services, Construction, Education, Health and Social Care, Hospitality, Manufacturing, Retail, Transport and Logistics, and Other community (media, sport, public services, the arts).
The research found that eight sectors use length of experience to fix starting salaries or as a criterion in selection for recruitment and retention; seven sectors use age or length of service as the basis for redundancy decisions; five sectors provide age information on candidates to short-listing and interviewing staff; four sectors set maximum or contractual retirement ages and for two of these sectors the contractual retirement age is often below 65.

The reports also examine what employers are doing to remove compulsory retirement ages and adopt flexible approaches, as set out in the Pensions White Paper, as well as looking at how the age legislation affects young people in the workforce.
Source: Age Positive News Release (August 10, 2006)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Conferernce Board Study Shows More Companies Turn to Strategic Workforce Planning

The Conference Board has issued a study showing that an aging workforce and an emerging "baby boom" retirement wave are driving more companies toward "strategic workforce planning," which involves analyzing and forecasting the talent that companies need to execute their business strategy. "Strategic workforce planning is aimed at helping companies make sure they have the right people in the right place at the right time and at the right price."

The study--Strategic Workforce Planning: Forecasting Human Capital Needs to Execute Business Strategy--reports that these other forces are driving strategic workforce planning: current movement and projected labor shortages; globalization; the growing use of contingent, flexible workers; the need to leverage human capital to enhance return; mergers and acquisitions; and the evolution of workplace technology and tools. The study includes detailed case studies of nine organizations.

Source: Conference Board Press Release (August 7, 2006)

Malaysia: Workers Choosing To Delay Retirement

According to an article by Chan Ching Thut in The Star, "more Malaysians are planning to retire later than at age 55, with the main reasons cited for the delay being higher pay while working, enhanced retirement benefits, and new and challenging responsibilities." This is the result of a pulse survey conducted in May 2006 by Accenture.

Accenture partner and human performance senior executive Joan Hoi said "One-third of Malaysian workers interviewed have changed their plans for retirement within the past five years."

Separately, Hoi noted that a significant finding from their Aging Workforce survey was on the management of the knowledge assets of a company: Globally, one quarter of employers surveyed revealed that their organisations would allow older workers to retire without any transfer of knowledge, and in Malaysia, 48% cited “small, informal discussions” or “1 to 2 weeks' process” as the methods used by organisations before employees retire, while 15% said their organisations would let them go without any transfer of knowledge.

Source: The Star "More Malaysians choose to delay retirement" (August 7, 2006)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Scotland: Government Grants Aim To Bring Older Workers Back into Learning

The Scottish Deputy Minister for Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Allan Wilson has announced that the Experience Counts initiative that aims to bring older workers back into learning will continue to benefit from Scottish Executive funding until 2008. The initiative provides tailored learning programmes for over-50s to raise confidence and allow learners to acquire new skills. "Through the programme, Sector Skills Councils (SSCs) collaborate with employers and learning institutions to provide 'bite size' or taster courses dependent on employer and worker needs."
"Experience Counts ensures that older workers can be competitive in the modern workplace. By combining older workers' wealth of professional experience with new knowledge and skills development we can further Scotland's commitment to a world-class professional environment."
The first phase was announced in March. In this second phase, four SSCs will operate across Scotland, receiving £224,000 to deliver a range of activities from enhancing the continuous professional development of staff in Scottish Colleges to the development of an older colleague mentoring programme in the transport sector.

Source: Scottish Executive News Release (August 7, 2006)

GAO Reviews Data on Retiring Boomers and Effects on Financial Assets Markets

As the first wave of baby boomers become eligible for retirement benefits, concerns have been raised about the possibility for boomers to sell off large amounts of financial assets in retirement, with relatively fewer younger U.S. workers available to purchase these assets. Analysis of this situation by the General Accountability Office (GAO)--presented in its report Retirement of Baby Boomers Is Unlikely to Precipitate Dramatic Decline in Market Returns, but Broader Risks Threaten Retirement Security (GAO-06-718)--suggests that retiring boomers are not likely to sell financial assets in such a way as to cause a sharp and sudden decline in financial asset prices.

However, due, in part, to the decline in traditional pensions that provide guaranteed retirement income and the rise in account-based defined contribution plans, the retirement security of boomers and others will likely depend more on individual savings and returns on such savings.

Source: General Acountability Office Highlights (July 28, 2006)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Career Advisers: Preparing To Work Past 65

Following up on the McKinsey survey showing that the average age of retirees was only 59 and a full 40% of retirees were forced to stop working earlier than they had planned, Virginia Galt writes in the >i>Globe and Mail that these results come as no surprise to career advisers. Thus, Barry Witkin, founder of Prime50, suggests that a "fair amount of age discrimination still exists, but it is couched in terms such as a person won't fit in or that they are overqualified or that they may be too expensive." Nevertheless, he believes that the demand for older workers will be picking up.

Witkin's basic advice to older workers is to stay current and to continue to develop their skills. Since there are there are far more boomers coming on stream compared to available employers who might hire them, he also recommends that older workers keep their résumés updated, review their career plans with a career counsellor or career-transition specialist, develop networking and search skills, stay informed, look after themselves--both stress=wise and health-wise, look current, assess their skills and accomplishments, and have a positive attitude.

Source: Globe and Mail "Thinking of working past 65? Think again" (August 5, 2006)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Norway: Small and Medium Businesses Open to Older Workers

According to a survey conducted by Bedriftsforbundet, a Norwegian interest group for small and medium businesses, shows that leaders of those businesses are slowly growing more positive about hiring staff over the age of 50, but plenty of skepticism towards older workers remains. As reported in the Aftenposten, the survey shows that as many as 30% admit that they would prefer to avoid hiring workers over 50, while around 55% said that they had no qualms about hiring senior staff--a slight increase over the past three years.

Bedriftforbundet's managing director Tom Bolstad suggests that the main reason many smaller companies hesitate to hire older staff is that they seek a younger profile and fear that older workers can mean lower working capacity. In addition, for companies with over 20 employees, their primary fear is that "seniors can mean expenses involved with earlier retirement pension."

Source: Aftenposten "Older workers more popular" (August 1, 2006)

Japan: Businesses Responding to Need for Older Workers

Writing for The Japan Times, Ryohei Takeda follows up on the legal revision on stabilizing elderly employment that took effect in Japan in April, making it obligatory for firms to keep workers on the payroll in stages until age 65. Specifcially, he writes that the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry reports that about 96% of firms with more than 300 employees have already introduced measures to extend employment.

However, Takeda notes, "the bulk of them rehired employees aged 60 with pay cuts of 50 percent or more." On the other side, the ministry said that less than 7% of businesses have gone so far as to either raise the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65 or abolish it.

Source: The Japan Times "Workforce gears up to take in growing number of seniors" (August 2, 2006)