Saturday, September 30, 2006

Europe: Workers Believe Employers Are Age-biased

According to a Monster Meter poll, 46% of workers across Europe believe their organisations discriminate against older workers when it comes to looking for new recruits. "Norwegians lead the way in terms of a balanced view, and Germans observed the highest percentage of discrimination against older workers when looking for new recruits."
“The issue of age discrimination is a hot topic within the recruitment world,” comments Alan Townsend, COO for Monster UK and Ireland. “From the initial job posting right through to the HR handbook, organisations must be mindful that they are not discriminating against any potential recruits based on their age. Having a workforce that is age diverse is an indicator of good practice within a company. Furthermore, as we head towards the ’knowledge economy’ the more experienced employee brings a superior level of understanding and a richer skill set - which benefits the company as a whole.”
Source:"Almost Half of European Workers Believe Their Organisations Discriminate Against Older Workers" (September 29, 2006)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Survey: Working After Retirement: The Gap Between Expectations and Reality

According to a Pew Research Center survey, more than three quarters of today's workers (77%) expect to work for pay even after they retire and, of those, most say it's because they'll want to, not because they'll have to. However, the Pew report--Working After Retirement: The Gap Between Expectations and Reality--suggests that these expectations are dramatically out of step with the experiences of people who are already retired.

Pew reports that just 12% of retirees are currently working for pay (either part or full time), and another research organization shows that just 27% of them have ever worked for pay while in retirement. Pew also shows a disparity between the age at which today's workers say they plan to retire and the age at which today's retirees actually did retire, with the average worker expecting to retire at age 61, while the average retiree actually retired at 57.8.

Source: Pew Research Center Social Trends Report Summary (September 20, 2006)

Hospitality Industry: Dealing with the Aging Worforce Crisis

Brecca Loh and John R. Hendrie, writing in, suggest that the biggest challenge facing the hospitality industry in the next five years is not "designing the Guest Room of the Future, building the most extraordinary mixed-use resort facility, identifying the dining trends of the rich and famous or creating the next terrifying yet exhilarating theme park ride." Rather, just like in health care, the industry will be stuck, "all competing for that rare commodity--reliable labor."
There will be "“Wars for Talent"”, and you must adapt your philosophies to retain older workers and attract new talent. Those who win the battles will be those wrested in progressive workforce development strategies. You do not have to be a huge corporation to make ready, but you will need to target your workforce and maximize your human capital. We know this argument is unpleasant for many in a labor intensive business, but this is the reality. Choose or close!
They suggest that employers must change direction, philosophy, and operation to deal with this. Among other things, they need to be more competitive in attracting and retraining new employees, create performance incentives, and build management-employee relationships.

Source: Hospitality Net "A Crisis So Immediate And Obvious, You May Have Already Missed It" (September 27, 2006)

Older Workers: 12 Reasons To Hire Them

Stephen Bastien, writing for suggests that older workers may answer the quest of employers "employees who are honest, responsible, dependable, loyal, focused, organized and mature." He outlines 12 reasons why hiring older workers can help employers "maintain a reliable, dedicated workforce and provide a significant cost savings for both the short and long term."

Specifically, he suggests that older workers are (1) dedicated, (2) punctual, (3) honest, (4) detail-oriented, (5) good listeners, (6) take pride in a job well done, (7) organized, (8) efficient and confident, (9) mature, (10) set an example for other employees, (11) communicate well, and (12) reduce labor costs, since many already have insurance plans from prior employers or have an additional sources of income and are willing to take a little less to get the job they want.

Source: "12 Benefits of Hiring Older Workers" (September 20, 2006)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

United Kingdom: Workers Fear that Employers Won't Hire Them at 65

Nearly a third of respondents to a survey conducted in the United Kingdom for Help the Aged believe that employers will not want to hire older workers, despite new laws designed to prevent age discrimination in the workplace coming into force on 1 October. According to the poll carried out by GfK NOP, a majority of people think ageism is widespread in British industry and 25% of people approaching retirement age thought ageism would prevent them from working beyond 65.
Kate Jopling, Senior Policy Manager at Help the Aged, says: ‘Despite the Government passing new laws to protect older workers, many people simply don’t believe that British bosses will hire them once they reach 65. Employers need to realise that just because someone has reached a certain age, it doesn’t mean they aren’t fit for work. In fact, our survey shows that 80 per cent of people consider older workers to be more loyal and dedicated than many other age groups in the workplace.
Source: Help the Aged News Release (September 22, 2006)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Study: Most Organizations Not Prepared for Talent Shortage Fueled by the Retirement of Baby Boomers

Cornerstone OnDemand, Inc., has released a whitepaper finding that most organizations, particularly larger ones, are not ready for the pending talent shortage caused by the looming retirement of 78 million workers age 55 and over. The paper--"Managing Talent in the Face of Workforce Retirement" (available free with registration)--summarizes key findings of Knowledge Infusion's "2010 Talent Readiness Assessment," which indicates, among other things that:
  • Organizations with more than 2,500 employees indicated that approximately 1 in 5 workers are over the age of 55;
  • Over 50% of respondents said the retiring workforce will cause a knowledge/skill gap; and yet
  • Less than 30% of organizations who responded had a retention plan in place.
Adam Miller, President and CEO, Cornerstone OnDemand, said: "Companies need to proactively assess their organizations and determine a plan of action before this threat becomes a reality. Understanding the overall goals of the organization and which employees are key to achieving these goals including their role, skills and level within the company is important to implementing a retention plan."

Source: MarketWire Press Release (September 25, 2006)

Thursday, September 21, 2006

NASA and Astronautic Engineering: Aging Workforce in Space Industry

Reporting from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics's (AIAA) Space 2006 Conference, Robert Lemos writes that NASA's corps of engineers that designed, built and maintained the space shuttle are reaching retirement age.
"The average age of my civil servants is 49 and we only have nine people under the age of 30," said S. Peter Worden, director of the NASA Ames Research Center, who jokingly added: "Then I talked to Google and they only have nine people over the age of 30."
In fact, for all aeronautic and astronautic engineers, the average age of AIAA membership in now in the low 50's. Lemos reports that Lockheed Martin has began several initiatives to try to transfer knowledge from the older, experienced engineers and technical staff to the younger hires, including mentoring programs in which a young engineer is assigned to a senior mentor and ones that sponsor occasional roundtable classes between a senior engineer and younger staff, focusing on specific technical problems and how to solve them.

Source: Wired News "NASA Fights Premature Graying" (September 21, 2006)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Online Job Sites for Older Workers

Diane E. Lewis, writing for The Boston Globe, discusses new job sites for "tapping into the graying segment of the labor market that's not quite ready to retire." Featuring an interview with the owner of, she also identifies similar sites for helping connect older workers and employers that may want to hire them.
[] certifies employers as ``age friendly" before they can post job vacancies by requiring firms to fill out a survey of a dozen questions about their recruiting practices, training, benefits, pay, and corporate culture. The human resource departments of companies whose answers indicate a genuine interest in hiring older workers must participate in another round of interviews, conducted by's 12-member staff, to establish that their firms offer benefits and flexible scheduling options that appeal to older workers.
Source: The Boston Globe " website caters to those who aren't ready to retire" (September 11, 2006)

Monday, September 18, 2006

United Kingdom: Unions Endorse End to Mandatory Retirement

The Trades Union Congress conference backed a motion to amend the Employment Equality (Age) Regulations to stop people over 65 being fired because of their age. Under the age regulations that come into effect in October, older workers will have new rights in employment, but over 65s can still be forced to retire against their wishes and employers will still be able to refuse to hire someone over 65.
Sally Hunt, joint general secretary, University and College Union said: "All workers, regardless of their age, should be treated with respect and be fully protected by employment rights. It is the role of the union to fight for those rights and to protect their members. Today unions have sent a clear message that they will not stand for age discrimination."
Source: AgeConcern News Release (September 14, 2006)

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Canada: Retired Persons Association Becoming Advocate for Hiring Older Workers

Daniel Drolet, in his weekly Ottawa Citizen column on retailing, writes about how hiring older workers may be the solution to the growing labor shortage for retail businesses. Judy Cutler, director of government relations for CARP, says "We have older workers who want to work. Why not embrace their expertise?"
In many ways, retail sales jobs seem perfect for aging workers who crave social interaction, don't want a full-time job, like the idea of being able to leave for a few months to go south in winter, and who, if they have pensions, don't necessarily have to worry about the benefits.

However, Ms. Cutler says embracing older workers is going to require a change in attitude on the part of employers.

"People still have trouble getting jobs because of their age," she said, adding that these days, an older worker is anyone over the age of 45. "We hear from people who are cutting their resumes in half to make it look like they are not old enough to have done everything they have done."
CARP now devotes part of its website to helping older workers find jobs. "We're not advocating for mandatory employment," said Ms. Cutler. "We don't expect that all older workers will want to work. But I'd like to see more inter-generational interaction and activity. I think it's part of a holistic approach to accepting the aging population.

Source: Ottawa (CA) Citizen "Older workers could be new answer to labour shortage" (September 15, 2006)

Accomodating Older Workers: Health & Safety

Writing in the Occupational Health & Safety publication of the Alberta, Canada, Human Resources & Employment department, Nordahl Flakstad focuses on what smart employers are thinking about how they can actively recruit and retain older workers.
Typically, an employer needs only to introduce minor and inexpensive adjustments to working environments and procedures to better accommodate older employees. employees. For example, there may need to be changes to lighting, the positioning of workstations or tool and equipment design.
In addition to providing some quick guides for work site accomodations with respect to vision and lighting, hearing and sound, and griop and handling, the article also references "Safe and Healthy: A Guide to Managing an Aging Workforce," a 44-page booklet developed by Alberta Human Resources and Employment to help managers and supervisors, some of whom are decades younger than their older employees, to better appreciate and respond to the challenges faced by aging workers.

Source: Alberta (CA) Occupational Health & Safety "Accomodating the Aging Workforce" (September 2006)

Friday, September 15, 2006

Corporate Practice: How One Company Uses the Older Worker Advantage

Vita Needle Company in Needham, Massachusetts, describes how 95% of its 35 workers in production are part-time senior citizens. An interview with three of the seniors and with a senior manager shows how the company manages to be productive, while allowing, for example, workers to pretty much set their own hours.

Source: "The Older Worker Advantage: Making the Most of an Aging Workforce" (September 13, 2006)

U.S. Labor Department Releases 2006 National Saver Summit Report

The U.S. Department of Labor has released the final report of the 2006 National Summit on Retirement Savings. The report, entitled Saving for Your Golden Years: Trends, Challenges and Opportunities identifies barriers to retirement savings confronting low-income workers, small business employees, new entrants to the workforce, and individuals nearing retirement. The summit delegates, who met in March 2006, worked on action plans for target populations to raise awareness about retirement planning and offer new programs, policies and ideas to help them adequately save for retirement.

With respect to the challenges faced by workers nearing retirement, delegates came up with a number of suggestions for programs to heighten awareness of possibly inadequate savings, improve older workers’ ability to catch up on savings, take measures to deal with rising healthcare costs, and facilitate phased retirement. Among these were:
  • Lifetime Accumulation: Change the tax code that limits tax-deferred annual contributions to retirement
    savings accounts to lifetime limits on contributions.
  • Change Rules to Reflect Shifting Paradigms: Establish regulations to incorporate some of the best
    features of defined benefit plans—-automatic enrollment, default options—-into defined contribution plans.
  • Product Bundling: Remove the regulatory impediments to bundling products like annuities and long-term care insurance.
  • Flexible Work Training (for Managers): Provide training to managers who are willing to hire seniors, focusing on the design, implementation, and appropriate target audiences of flexible work arrangements.
  • Retiree Health Security: Offer retirees greater financial security by providing protection against two of the biggest threats to retirement security: runaway healthcare costs and gaps in retiree healthcare coverage caused by bankrupt, closed, or
    financially strapped businesses that discontinue or reduce retiree health benefits.
Source: U.S. Department of Labor News Release (September 7, 2006)

Monday, September 11, 2006

American Management Association Identifies Corporate Concerns about Aging Workforce

The September 2006 issue of the American Management Associations's Moving Ahead includes an article by Theresa Welbourne, Ph.D., reporting on the results of an extensive Leadership Pulse study focusing on the "AWF"--the "aging workforce." The survey found that of 369 respondents--from general managers to C-level executives, 43% report that an AWF will affect their organizational culture, only 24% did not; in addition, 42% felt the AWF would affect the quality of their talent, while 26% reported little or no concern of this.

And after reviewing the qualitative data, the researchers identified three major areas of concern:
  • Culture Change--"some view this as a strategic opportunity to reshape their organizational culture in a new and desirable direction."
  • Knowledge Gap--"As older employees leave, their talent, knowledge, deep relationships and extensive, on-the-job training exits with them. These are elements that simply cannot be replaced through the hiring of recent college graduates."
  • Leadership Gap--"Respondents were also concerned about the loss of leadership knowledge, skills and abilities." However, again, others view upside of the situation, by bringing a welcome opportunity for new leadership.
Source: American Management Associaton "Strategies for Dealing with the Challenges and Opportunities of America’s Aging Workforce" (September 2006)

Survey: US Labor Department Employee Tenure Data Shows Job Tenure Lengthens with Age

The median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.0 years in January 2006, unchanged from January 2004, according to data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor. Not surprisingly, older workers tend to have more years of tenure than their younger counterparts: median tenure for employees ages 55 to 64 was 9.3 years in January 2006, about three times the tenure for workers ages 25 to 34 (2.9 years).

Information on employee tenure has been obtained from supplemental questions in the Current Population Survey (CPS). every 2 years since 1996In data As would also be expected, a larger percentage of older workers than younger workers had 10 or more years of tenure. For example, among wage and salary workers ages 55 to 59, about half were employed for 10 years or more with their current employer, while among workers ages 30 to 34, about 11% have 10 or more years of tenure, and for workers ages 25 to 29, the proportion was about 2%.

Source: U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics News Release 06-1563 (September 8, 2006)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Staffing Companies: Poised to Make Money on the Aging Workforce? has taken a look at how an older workforce might create some investing opportunities in the staffing industry. Citing a report from IDC, a global provider of industry information, that about 19% of the entire U.S. workforce holding executive, administrative, and managerial positions will retire in the next five years, Morningstar suggests that this might bode especially well for executive search firms.

Among other things, Morningstar suggests that the aging workforce may cause companies to rely more heavily on firms with strong networks of relationships and to pay more for talent, given supply constraints.

Source: "The Inside Scoop on Staffing Companies" (August 25, 2006)

Thursday, September 07, 2006

South Africa: Paper Calls for Increasing Age Diversity in Advertising Industry

Paula Sartini, a founding member and managing director of Espial Go-to-Market, has called on the South African advertising industry to apply the same diversity standards for the generational as it has for the racial divide. She argues that "a diverse workforce, both from a racial but also from an age perspective, makes for more effective communication that ultimately resonates with all possible target markets."

Among other things, she notes that the average age in advertising agencies is significantly lower than in traditional organisations. This results in not just A lack of experience, but a lack of emotional intelligence. Putting "unseasoned employees into positions of authority too quickly robs them of the opportunity to develop the emotional competencies that come with time and experience--competencies like the ability to negotiate with peers, regulate their emotions in times of crises, or win support for change."

Source: MarketingWeb "Managing age diversity in the advertising industry" (September 4, 2006)

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

South Korea: Aging Scientists Brought on Board To Help Smaller Firms

According to an article by Park Bang-ju, in the JoongAng Daily, under a South Korean government program, "small and medium-sized companies in Korea are getting the chance to harness the experience and know-how of scores of recently unretired scientists." Specifically, it reports that the Science Ministry has announced yesterday the names of 79 scientists to be brought out of retirement and of 79 companies where they will work. "Scientists who had worked at a state research facility for 20 years or more were invited to apply via the Internet for posts as technical advisors."

Source: JoongAng Daily "Elders get last hurrah at small domestic firms" (September 5, 2006)

Sunday, September 03, 2006

New Zealand: Summit on Older Workers Held

New Zealand government, business, and union leaders held the Employment of the Older Worker Summit in Wellington on September 4. The Summit was called by the Retirement Commissioner, Diana Crossan, and the EEO Commissioner, Dr Judy McGregor, and aimed to develop practical strategies and actions to increase the number of older workers at a time of growing skills shortages.
“New Zealand will need around 100,000 more people at work in the next twenty years just to stand still and yet older people are often the last to be considered or suffer covert discrimination,” Dr McGregor said.

“We believe that businesses need to be thinking about their age profile and about retaining their mature staff. Baby boomers approaching retirement should be also considering whether they want to continue in paid work and what might make them stay,” Dr McGregor said.
Source: Human Rights Commission Press Release (September 3, 2006)

Other Materials: Click here for materials from the summit.

Friday, September 01, 2006

AARP Announces 2006 Best Employers for Workers Over 50

In releasing its list of the 2006 AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50, AARP says that enlightened employers are making strategic business decisions in addressing the needs of an aging workforce by increasingly providing flexible work arrangements that accommodate the schedules of the employees and their families.

The top finisher was Mercy Health System of Janesville, Wisconsin, which offers "numerous flexible options, including weekend-only work, nursing "float" options (work at different facilities and or departments), work-at-home opportunities, 'seasonal work' programs that allow staffers to go on leave for extended periods while maintaining benefit eligibility, and on-call assignments that involve a limited number of hours per month that can be expanded and/or contracted based on the employee's availability."

The well-known employers in the top 50 include Volkswagen of America, Inc., Hoffmann-La Roche Inc., Principal Financial Group, and Busch Entertainment Corporation. Their offerings include full and part-time employees flex time, compressed work schedules, job sharing and telecommuting, phasing into retirement with part-time work, and retiree work opportunities, inclduing offering temporary work assignments, consulting work, and telecommuting.

Source: AARP Press Release (August 30, 2006)

Additional Resources: "Healthy look at retaining older workers" Chicago Tribune article on Mercy Health System (August 31, 2006)