Thursday, November 30, 2006

Role of Employers in Discussing Retirement Options with Employees

In an article in Employee Benefit News, Lydell C. Bridgeford discusses the pros and cons about how employers talk about retirement education programs, especially ones addressing the financial pros and cons to working past age 62 to 67. While older workers thinking about working past the required retirement age must balance the rewards with the penalties and need information about the costs and benefits, there is a real question about whether employers should become more active in offering education programs on delayed retirement.
[John] Young [ executive vice president of sales and marketing at Michigan-based Freedom One Financial Group] observes that employers tend to leave retirement financial education up to outside professionals whom workers have already chosen, or a potential service provider of their 401(k) program that includes retirement education planning as part of the basic service.
However, it can be in the employer's interest to help with the education, especailly as younger workers become relatively more scarce and employers increasingly want to retain older workers.

Source: Employee Benefit News "Educating workers about delayed retirement" (November 2006)

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Manufacturing: Coping with Replacing Older Workers in Jobs Younger Workers Don't Want

An article in Manufacturing US focuses on how young people are steering clear of manufacturing just at the time that manufacturers are experiencing a moderate to severe shortage of skilled production employees, including machinists, distributors and technicians. One problem may be an image one:
“Dirty, dark, dangerous, and dull,” says Director of Operations Leo Reddy of the Manufacturing Skill Standards Council (MSSC). MSSC is the nationwide, industry-led organization focused on the core knowledge and skills needed by US production workers. “There’s definitely a concern among educators in attracting young people into manufacturing, a negative perception we have to improve,” says Reddy.
Thus, many manufacturers try to appeal to younger workers by focusing on the "cool" products they produce or the tools that they use to produce them. "If all else fails, then manufacturers appeal to the rewards of a steady career in manufacturing." MSSC and the National Association of Manufacturers are trying close the employment gap and in September 2006 launched the U.S.’s first effort to establish nationally-recognized credentials for qualified manufacturing production workers.

Source: Manufacturing US "Dirty, dark, dangerous, and dull" (November 2006)

Canada: Ontario's Ban on Mandatory Retirement Begins December 12, 2006

Ontario's "Ending Mandatory Retirement Statute Law Amendment Act, 2005", which was enacted by the legislative assembly in December 2005, takes effect on December 12, 2006. When the legislation takes effect, it will amend the Ontario Human Rights Code to protect people aged 65 and over from age discrimination for most employment purposes.

The Ministry of Labour has updated its FAQ: Mandatory Retirement and also maintains a Mandatory Retirement website.

Source: Ontario Ministry of Labour News Release (November 14, 2006)

Other Sources: Hamilton Spectator "Mandatory retirement soon to be obsolete" (November 28, 2006)

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Scientific Study Finds 76% of Workers Older than 60 Are Overweight or Obese

According to research conducted by Alberto Cordero of the University of Navarra School of Medicine, “76% of workers older than 60 years of age are overweight or obese. However, less than one third of those 40 years of age and younger suffer these health issues.”
The research group MESYAS (Metabolic Syndrome in Active Subjects), conducted a study of 19,041 active workers throughout Spain. Through these subjects, the project analyzed the incidence of metabolic syndrome, in conjunction with cardiovascular risk factors which tend to appear in the same individual, in order to obtain a common related physiopathology.
Cordero's research has been published in the American Journal of Hypertension, the Revista Espanola de Cardiología, and Medicina Clinica.

Source: University of Navarra News Release (November 22, 2006)

Monday, November 27, 2006

New Zealand: New Data Shows Growth of Jobs, Earnings for Older Workers

Employees aged 65 years and over showed the greatest increase in both job growth and earnings over the five-year period 2000-2005, according to statistics released by Statistics New Zealand from Linked Employer-Employee Data (LEED) from September 2005. Although those employees had one of the lowest levels of earnings, they had the highest increase in earnings--39.2% (from $4,750 to $6,610)--and the highest rate of job growth--109.4%.

The Figures also show a rise in job growth of 48.3% for those aged 55–59 years and 67.7% for those aged 60–64 years. The 15 to 19-year age group was associated with the second largest growth rate in earnings (26.8%)--which may have been influenced by annual increases in minimum youth wage rates, while the 55 to 59-year age group followed with the third largest growth rate in earnings (23.7%).

Source: Statistics New Zealand Media Release (November 27, 2006)

Sunday, November 26, 2006

United Kingdom: Delivering Healthier, Safer Workplaces for All Ages

Over one third (36.5%) of UK workers believe they will be unable to do their job at 60, according to the latest statistics, revealed in Hazards Magazine. The report--'Going strong'--shows that the great majority of employees have no significant health impediments to prevent them working up to 65, or beyond if they wish, yet poor health is the most common reason why people over 50 leave a job, with only half retiring early by choice. Hazards calls on employers to stop using bogus health and safety excuses to get rid of, or not employ older people, and start helping keep the ageing UK population in work and off benefits.

A special feature on older workers by editor Rory O’Neill spells out the measures necessary to deliver healthier workplaces for all, regardless of age. Among other things, the article points out that improving health and longevity mean the great majority of workers have no significant health impediments to prevent work up to the age of 65 and for many, where they wish, beyond, and that workplace health and safety considerations are not a valid reason to prevent older workers continuing in work.
Age management strategies must target “ageing” rather than just “older” workers. Planning occupational health interventions and devising job redesign or alternative work in good time, with policies looking at workers in the 45+ age group, will provide greater scope for creating suitable and healthy work transitions. Career structures should allow a shift to more suitable work, where necessary or desirable.
Among the topics explored in detail are:
  • workplace health, citing findings that “older workers do not have more accidents in the workplace.”
  • older women, older workers, which notes that the impact of work on the health and employability of older women workers is particularly neglected, so that strategies must be both age and gender sensitive to ensuring the “work ability” of older women workers.
  • safety rep's checklist
In addition, the article provides links to sources and websites pertaining to the issues discussed.

Sources: Hazards Magazine "Not dead yet" (No. 96, October-December, 2006); Trade Union Congress Press Release (November 24, 2006)

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

United Kingdom: Age Legislation Not Ending Ageist Attitudes

Findings from the Recruitment Confidence Index (RCI), produced by Cranfield School of Management, suggest that organizations have a long way to go to eliminate age discrimination at work and become fully compliant with the recent UK legislation. Specifically, while 89% of organizations claim to have introduced or changed their policies and practices to comply with the legislation which came into effect on October 1, 24% do not have an age discrimination policy and only 54% provide training to managers with regard to age discrimination. Furthermore, one in seven of the responding HR managers admitted to being aware of current discriminatory policies and practices within their organization.
Commenting on the findings Dr Emma Parry, Research Fellow at Cranfield School of Management, said:

"These results give particular cause for concern as the respondents are HR managers, who should be responsible for championing the elimination of age discrimination within organisations. The results also demonstrate that the creation of policies regarding age discrimination is not enough. Training and education programmes are needed in order to address these attitudes and the discrimination that is commonly associated with them."
Source: Cranfield University School of Management Press Release (November 21, 2006)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rhode Island: Focus on Aging Workforce in Manufacturing

As part of a Focus issue on baby boomers, the Providence Business News published two articles by on workforce and the aging. The first, by Natalie Myers, focuses on manufacturing companies trying to fill the holes created by today’s retirees. The second, by Nicole Dionne, focuses on how the employment needs of the baby boom cohort are being taken very seriously in the workplace.

According to Myers, in manufacturing, it takes a substantial amount of time to teach the skills the retirees have spent 10 to 20 years learning themselves. She focused on one company--Handy & Harman--where about 30% of the workers are older than 55 and the average age is 47. She reports that Handy & Harman invests heavily in its on-the-job training program and, to help supplement training costs, seeks grants from state and federally funded organizations such as the Workforce Partnership of Greater Rhode Island. In addition, she reports that companies have to balance the need for new trainees with the need to implement lean manufacturing principles, to cut production costs and stay competitive.

According to Dionne, 23% of Rhode Island’s work force is 55 and older.
“This is a group that is a great resource, particularly now,” said Kathy Partington, chief of work force development for the R.I. Department of Labor and Training. “They have a lot of skills that can be transferred to different jobs."
The biggest barriers faced by older workers are salaries and the perception of employers who feel that they should get younger workers with more cutting-edge skills. In order to counter those barriers, the state training department works to get employers to see the value of older employees.

Source: Providence Business News "Factories toil to replace retirees" and "Older workers offer employers challenges, rewards" (November 18, 2006)

Japan: Companies Starting To Build Experience Hiring Older Workers Part-Time

An article in Kyodo News describes how one company is paying keener attention as a workforce and customer to baby boomers, whose massive retirement will begin next year. Specifically, Lawson, Inc. "plans to increase its number of middle-aged and elderly part-timers to 20 percent of such workers, now numbering about 150,000, within several years because it believes seniors are more likely to enter its outlets if there are shop employees of the same generation."

However, other companies lack experience in employing the middle-aged and elderly. "Masaru Okamura, a director of Tokyo-based Ten Allied Co. which operates Japanese-style pubs, said, 'Young shop managers don't have experience in supervising elderly people and don't know appropriate language to be used for them.' The company is now actively seeking older workers by offering bonuses, but creation of a workplace environment to truly bring out their abilities is still a work in progress."

Source: Kyodo News "Conflict between young and old over part-time jobs seen possible" (October 26, 2006)

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Australia: Health Research Finds Older Workers More Productive

According to research conducted by Australian Health Management, workers aged 55 or above are more productive than under-35s because they suffer less depression and headaches, and have no childcare problems. While the younger group had an average 19% reduction in productivity due to childcare responsibilities, allergies, depression, headaches, and asthma, workers aged 55 or more showed reduced productivity of only 13%.

Australian Health Management called for health funds and employers to pay greater attention to the value of reducing health risk factors such as weight, stress and smoking. As reported by Matthew Franklin:
The company produced dramatic figures showing that after it enrolled nearly 4000 of its members in a six-month health program, the average claim in the subsequent six months tumbled from $3017 to $1761.

"You can't stop people ageing," said AHM chief executive Dan Hook. "But you can get people to address their risks ... Risk factors are the sleeper in the health debate."
Source: The Australian "Older workers more productive" (November 14, 2006)

New England: Aging Workforce Threatens To Stall Economic Development

Northeastern University’s Center for Labor Market Studies has prepared a report showing that New England’s aging workforce could stall economic development and job growth in the future, particularly in Maine, which has the oldest population in the country. According to the report, which was released today as part of The New England Council’s Older Worker Initiative, all of the growth in the Maine labor force over the next decade will come from those aged 55 and older.
“We believe that New England is at a critical juncture. The aging population creates important challenges and significant opportunities for developing strategies to respond to these inevitable workforce changes. We need to develop specific proposals to encourage the active engagement of older workers in the employment market,” [James] McCaffrey [Mercer Human Resource Consulting’s New England Market Leader and member of the Council’s Board of Directors] said. “Retirement regulations – both on a state and federal level – often actually encourage workers to retire early and not return to the workforce. In New England, we could find a significant gap of available employees and skilled worker shortages that ultimately will hinder our ability to add jobs and grow.”
As part of the Initiative, business leaders will meet with public officials to discuss a variety of issues including: pension policies that limit workers’ ability to mix work and retirement income, workforce development programs that do not serve older workers, and the need for the workplace to accommodate an older workforce.

Source: New England Council Press Release (November 14, 2006)

Monday, November 13, 2006

Neurosurgeon Offers Medical Underpinning for Abandoning Retirement Concepts

Morris R. Beschloss interviewed neurosurgeon Dr. James Ausman regarding aging and its impact on America's employment for the Palm Springs (CA) Desert Sun and wrote that Ausman "some remarkable solutions to the inevitable calamity awaiting this country within the next decade." Among other things, Ausman suggests that Social Security Act and Medicare have fossilized into a status quo that had already proved antiquated decades ago. According to Beschloss's understanding of their conversation:
[Political cowardice] has further imposed a retirement psychosis encompassing millions of able-bodied retirees and companies employing them. Obviously, those ailing, sick or no longer able to carry on their chosen vocation should have the opportunity to vacate the working arena at the previously designated term of 65.

But with the galloping demand for professionals and practitioners of jobs that will go increasingly begging in the years ahead, today's archaic retirement programs engender an unacceptable waste.
Ausman calls this the abandonment of "the leading generation" and thinks it has been resigned to the wasteland of what could be indispensable contributions to the critical needs of America's foreseeable future. First, as people get older they get smarter, using both sides of the brain to facilitate accumulated information, which he calls the biological basis of wisdom. Second, Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and other degenerative diseases can be delayed by being mentally and physically active.

Source: The Desert Sun "Talent drain could hit workforce" (November 12, 2006)

Generational Differences: Younger Workers Desire New Technologies

At the Federal Computer Week’s Government CIO Summit in San Diego, agencies were told that, as the federal government reaches out to young workers, they will have to adopt new technologies, such as instant messaging, and recognize their innovative uses in the workplace. As Matthew Weigelt writes, the "government’s workforce is aging and the majority is nearing retirement age," and in the years since they arrived in public service, technologies have progressed rapidly.
Cora Carmody, SAIC's executive chief information officer, said young employees often are taking a technological step backward when entering the workplace. They expect to find wireless devices in businesses, when some companies may not have them.
As another speaker said, agencies must consider how to make the most of those new technologies. "As the workforce grows younger, the employees will come in with the expectatiom of having familiar tools available."

Source: Federal Computer Week "Young workforce will affect technology in workplace" (November 7, 2006)

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Survey: Kelly Global Workforce Index Reports on Ageism Around the World

Kelly Services has released results of the Kelly Global Workforce Index, a survey of over 70,000 workers in 28 countries about their experiences in workforce discrimination on account of age (both young and old). For example, in Australia, the Index reports that almost half of all Australians believe they have been discriminated against in applying for a job, with older Australians now facing the greatest prejudice. Specifically, 48% of workers aged 45 or older felt they had been discriminated against on the basis of their age. In India, age also was the major source of prejudice, cited by 16% of the respondents there.

According to Kelly Services Sales & Operations Director (New Zealand), Steve Kennedy,
“Ageism has overtaken ethnicity and sexism in many areas as the greatest source of discrimination in employment. At a time when we face an ageing population and skills shortages, many organisations are putting obstacles in the way of hiring older people. This can be devastating for individuals but it is also means many organisations are shutting off an important source of talent and diversity. Organisations that don’t address these issues directly can do themselves considerable damage and can suffer costs both direct and indirect. They may suffer high staff turnover, absenteeism, poor morale, low productivity, poor reputation, and also the possibility of civil claims and penalties arising from breach of anti discrimination laws.”
The Kelly Global Workforce Survey Results are available (with free registration).

Source: News Releases Australia (October 2006); Canada;
India (October 19, 2006): New Zealand (October 17, 2006); Spain (October 24, 2006); United Kingdom (October 24, 2006)

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Arkansas Mature Workplace Initiative Encouraging Employers To Hire Older Workers

At a regional meeting focusing on the Arkansas Mature Worker Initiative, representatives from three local companies said older workers are key factors to daily operations. According to an article by Chandra Huston for the Baxter Bulletin, more and more "retirees" are heading back to the workforce.
Ranger Boats Human Resources Director Cheryl Davenport said 62 percent of the company's 850 employees are older than 45. She said mature workers are exactly what the business needs because of their experience.
In addition, Cameron Davis, store manager for Wal-Mart in Mountain Home, said d that people come to the area after retirement but realize they want to go back to work and, "Surprisingly, wages are not a big consideration for them. . . . "They just want to do something."

Source: Baxter Bulletin "Employers turn to mature workers" (November 2, 2006)

Other Sources: Arkansas Department of Worforce Services Arkansas Mature Workforce Initiative

Making the Workplace a Friendlier Place for all the Generations

According to Graham S. Toft, a senior fellow at Thomas P. Miller and Associates in Indianapolis, many older workers will choose to remain an active part of the work force. "I don't think we fully recognize how big an impact the baby-boom phenomenon will have on continuing to work--not on retirement," he is quoted as saying in an article by Julie Cope Saetre for The Indianapolis Star. "Toft said research is showing a noticeable change in the attitudes of workers 55 and older about working beyond the age of 65."
It's not a deliberate oversight, says Toft. Rather, the labor pool has been relatively plentiful and the concept of an aging work force has developed gradually.

"It's not something that dramatically impacts you in one year," he said. "It's a stealth phenomenon. We kind of accept it as it comes. We recognize in the workplace you can have three generations of workers now working in the same place. And that wasn't so 27 years ago. And it could be even four generations (if) people keep working into their 80s."
In the same article, Saetre also writes about Duke Energy's 4-year-old Senior Leader Program, through which Duke reaches out to its older employees by allowing them to work as independent contractors, or keeping them on the payroll on a part-time basis.

Source: Indianapolis Star "In age of an aging work force, wise employers keep door open" (November 1, 2006)