Thursday, November 29, 2007

Hawaii: Census Bureau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Hawaii, the sixth state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Hawaii: 2004":
  • 15.9% of workers were 55 and older, while 3.6% were 65 and older; and
  • the state's hotel and food service industries employed the greatest number of older workers, with about 15% of the workers 55 and older being in these two sectors.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau News Release (November 26, 2007)

Other Sources: Hawaii Advertiser "Hawaii employers fret over aging workforce" (November 27, 2007)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

United Kingdom: Prudential Survey Shows Workers Retiring Early, but Golden Age is Ending

Accounts of a new Prudential survey in the United Kingdom state that, despite widespread concern about the pensions crisis, people planning on retiring in 2008 have in many cases never had it so good. Nevertheless, according to the Prudential Class of 2008 Retirement Report, 2008 could be the beginning of the end for the golden age of retirement with younger generations facing a very different retirement future as experts warn 80% of final salary schemes are now closed to new members.

Reporting to be the first major study of people retiring in a specific year, the study finds the average age for men to give up work is 60 while women are retiring at an average 58 compared to statutory retirement ages of 65 and 60. Specifically, around 11% of men retiring in 2008 will be more than 65, while 33% of women will be more than 60.

Source: "Retiring next year? You've never had it so good" (November 24, 2007)

Friday, November 23, 2007

Older Workers Report Lower Levels of Work-Related Stress

A study conducted by the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research (ISR) finds that older workers generally report low levels of work-related stress. ISR researcher Gwenith Fisher and her colleagues presented the results of their research at the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America. Based on 2006 data from 1,544 participants, the study examined the prevalence of different kinds of job stressors reported by participants between the ages of 53 and 85.
Just over half agreed or strongly agreed that they have competing demands being made on them at work, and 47 percent agreed that time pressures are a source of job stress.

Only 19 percent of older workers indicated that they have poor job security, however. "Given what we know about the extent of age discrimination at work and the current economic climate regarding unemployment, this is a surprisingly low number," said Fisher.
For older and younger workers facing work-related stress, Fisher recommended a few basic guidelines:
  • taking good care of oneself--getting enough sleep and regular physical exercise; and
  • engaging in active time management--keeping track of tasks and set priorities and establishing clear boundaries in order to set aside some time that isn't available for any work.
Source: University of Michigan News Release (November 19, 2007)

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Canada: Workplace Institute Announces Winners of Top Employers of Older Workers

Workplace Institute announced its winners of its 2008 Best Employers Award for 50 Plus Canadians. The nine companies chosen on the basis of a written application and the results of an in-depth interview were HSBC Bank, Merck Frosst, Stream, EDS Canada, Wal-Mart Canada, Home Instead Senior Care, Metasoft Systems Inc., and Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto.
"This year’s winners realize that boomer and veteran workers are the key to weathering talent shortages and are taking some novel approaches to attracting and retaining 45+ employees,” says the Workplace Institute’s Barbara Jaworski, founder of the awards and author of KAA-BOOM! How to Engage the 50-Plus Worker and Beat the Workforce Crisis. “The judges felt these organizations had found ways to meet their business and mature workforce needs by using strategies in one or more of the areas of career development, retention, recruitment, workplace culture/practices, management practices, health support, retirement/retiree practices, benefits, pension and/or recognition.”
Source: Workplace Institute Press Release (November 21,2007)

AARP Creates Workfore Assessment Tool

AARP has announced the creation of a new online tool to help employers assess their current and future workforce needs and the impact of an aging workforce. The AARP Workfore Assessment Tool is available free to employers and requires the use of Adobe Reader. The tool automatically generate a report that can help an employer:
  • Assess any potential impact the aging workforce will have on the organization;
  • Map out current employer practices and identify areas for improvement;
  • Provide recommendations on how to maximize the experience of an organization's older workforce; and
  • Provide an inventory of workplace strengths that can be used to enhance the employer's brand.
Source: Casa Grande Valley Newspaper "Assessment tool helps employers prepare for aging workforce" (November 20, 2007)

Survey: Top 50 Places for a "Retirement Job" in the United States has released its list of the 50 best places in the United States for those seeking retirement jobs. A "retirement job" for these purposes can span a large spectrum and include, among others, workers who have achieved the traditional retirement age of 62 to 63 yet continue to work to those who have retired (stopped working in their primary occupation) but seek to resume working or begin a second career ad to individuals age 50 to 65 who have been “involuntarily retired” and need to become reemployed on a full time basis.

The factors considered for "The 50 Best Places for Retirement Job Seekers" in the selection of a locatokn as a "Best Place" include:
  1. General employment growth;
  2. Unemployment rate;
  3. Housing costs;
  4. General cost of living;
  5. Prevalence of key retirement job opportunities;
  6. Presence of "Age Friendly Certified Employers™"; and
  7. Healthcare services.
Source: Press Release (November 21, 2007)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

IBM, Universities Collaborate on Technology Tools to Assist Older Workers

IBM has announced that it is collaborating with researchers at the University of Dundee School of Computing (UK) and the University of Miami's Miller School of Medicine to develop open source software technology tools to accommodate the needs of older workers to help them adapt to and remain productive in the changing workplace of the 21st century. In particular, the focus is to support maturing workers who have age-related disabilities by finding new ways to increase their comfort level and ability to use technology, to develop and integrate structures, systems, tools, and processes that facilitate the inclusion of more people, irrespective of their age, abilities or personal challenges.
"This collaboration is a superb opportunity for the group in Dundee to apply our wide experience of research with older people, and of developing better ways of accessing technology, in an exciting new transatlantic partnership with IBM and the Miller Medical School in Miami," said Professor Peter Gregor, Head of the School of Computing at the University of Dundee. "The open source focus makes the challenges particularly rewarding because it means that knowledge gained and systems developed will be available freely to the people who need them and to other developers."
Source: IBM Press Release (November 18, 2007)

Saturday, November 17, 2007

United Kingdom: Engineering Firms Redesigning for Older Workers

The Royal Academy of Engineering has released a study showing that engineering businesses are re-designing the future of work in order to cope with the ageing population. The survey of 208 engineering businesses was commissioned by the Royal Academy to investigate awareness and opinion relating to older employees within engineering based businesses.

According to "Engineering Employers Research 2007," 44% of the firms experienced recruitment difficulties over the last year; 49% believed their workforce would face a shortage of young people over the next decade; and 71% are concerned about the loss of skilled workers as employees retire. In response to this, according to the survey:
  • 91% of the firms favor their employees working beyond the age of 65;
  • 58% offered re-training to their older workers;
  • 36% had increased the pay of older workers to encourage them to stay in employment;
  • 46% enabled retirees to return to work; and
  • 30% had created a reserve of retired workers who can be called upon to work on discrete projects as and when required.
Source: Royal Academy of Engineering News Release (November 16, 2007)

Study: Injured Older Workers Less Likely to Seek Emergency Room Treatment

A study released by National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc.(NCCI) shows that younger workers (ages 20–34) use the emergency room on a higher percentage of claims than do older workers (ages 45–64). Analyzing worker's compensation data on claims submitted between 1996 and 2003, the study--"Younger Workers vs. Older Workers Going to the Emergency Room: Explaining Differences in Utilization and Price" (Fall 2007)--found that hospital that the younger workers are 17% more likely to visit a hospital ER than are the older employees. In addition, the share of ER claims to total claims was 5.9% greater for younger workers. The authors suggest that a possible reason for the difference is that younger workers are less likely than older workers to have medical insurance and, therefore, a regular doctor.

The NCCI study also tried to gauge whether there were age-related differences in costs for ER procedures. However, the prevalence of “bundled” charges in hospital billing precluded a complete analysis of payment per service between
younger workers and older workers. Where individual procedures could be clearly identified (for medical examinations in the ER), age-related “price” differences were generally low.

Source: National Council on Compensation Insurance Inc. What's New (November 14, 2007)

Friday, November 16, 2007

Australia: Employee Engagement the Key To Keeping Mature Workers Active in Workplace

According to research from the Voice Project at the Department of Psychology at Macquarie University, higher levels of engagement may lead to increased participation rates by mature-aged workers, as engagement has been shown to be associated with positive organizational outcomes such as reduced absenteeism, higher productivity, and lower turnover rates. After surveying workers in age brackets 20-30, 30-40, 40-50, 50-60 and 60 plus, Nick Vrisakis from Voice Project said researchers found there were some significant differences. While younger workers valued career opportunities, rewards and recognition, for older workers wellness was the strongest driver of engagement over and above salary and seniority.
"These results suggest that older workers are looking for less stress in their working lives and that this may be related to the nature of the role rather than the number of hours worked. Older employees may be happy to work full-time hours if it means they can be exposed to less stress or at least maintain a sense of wellbeing. If older workers could wind down whilst continuing to work it may be that many would continue to work full-time."
In addition, the research showed that overall older workers were more satisfied, committed and had a stronger intention to stay with their organizations. As Vrisakis pointed out, this is good news for employers who are seeking to attract or retain mature-aged workers and provides incentive for other employers to do so.

Source: Macquarie University Press Release (November 14, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007

MetLife Study Provides Case Studies of Companies Successfully Implementing Programs Addressing Changing Workforce Demographics

MetLife Mature Market Institute has released a study exploring what proactive organizations are doing to creatively meet the challenges posed by an
aging workforce, including in-depth case studies about four companies that have successfully implemented programs to address the changing workforce demographics: Boston Scientific, First Horizon Corporation, The Aerospace Corporation and Weyerhaeuser. Among other things, the study provides insights for HR managers on such topics as implementing effective flexible work arrangements, helping older workers successfully transfer knowledge, and devising creative solutions for rehiring retirees.

The study, "Searching for the Silver Bullet: Leading Edge Solutions for Leveraging an Aging Workforce", which was developed in collaboration with David DeLong & Associates, suggests a number of lessons that can be learned, including:
  • The need to think of phased retirement or flexible work options as a program, not a policy;
  • How to create effective knowledge sharing relationships between older mentors and younger
  • The need to make knowledge transfer an explicit part of any job when rehiring a retiree; and
  • Why companies must stop searching for the “silver bullet” and recognize that there is no quick fix to these workforce challenges.
In addition, the study provides specific tips to help employers:
  1. Create and leverage a network of former employees;
  2. Rehire retirees indirectly on a project basis when pension restrictions prevent direct re-employment;
  3. Hire retirees with special expertise to innovate on critical projects; and
  4. Tap the expanding pool of older people seeking employment.
Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute Press Release (November 14, 2007)

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Australia: Reactions to Proposals for Grandparent Leave

Duing a debate late in the election campaign, Workplace Relations Minister Joe Hockey said the government would introduce a law that would allow new grandparents to take unpaid leave. According to a story by Michael Edwards, reaction to the proposal (which echoed some earlier suggestions) was mixed. Thus, while demographers say it is an acknowledgement of the increasing importance of older workers, "a pensioner group says it is unlikely many people will be in a position to take the leave."

Bob Birrell from the Centre for Population and Urban Research at Monash University realized that the proposal to allow 12 months' unpaid grandparental leave had wider implications: "Because in the past we would have imagined that most grandparents would've had time on their hands, they wouldn't have been working." While Pensioners and Superannuants Association spokesman Paul Versteege says he thinks the policy is well intentioned, but unlikely to make much of an impact, Edwards notes that ANZ Bank chief economist Saul Eslake sees grandparental leave as an important aspect of social policy to encourage older workers into the economy.
Although Australia's labour force participation rate has been rising over the last few years, participation by Australians in the senior age group--that is, above 55--remains well below that in other comparable countries, such as America, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, and substantially below that of Scandinavian countries as well."
Source: ABC News "Grandparents' leave plan gets mixed response" (November 8, 2007)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Arkansas: Census Burerau Issues Profile of the Older Worker

In a continuation of its partnership with 31 states on a series of reports on workers 55 and older, the Census Bureau has released its report on Arkansas, the fifth state to be released in the series. Among the highlights of the report--"The Geographic Distribution and Characteristics of Older Workers in Arkansas: 2004":
  • 14.3% of the workers in 2004 were 55 and older and 3.1% of the workers were 65 and older; and
  • of the 75 counties in Arkansas 20% or more of the workforce in three counties was 55 or older in 2004.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau News Release (November 8, 2007)

Other Sources: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette "No rocking chair just yet for many" (November 25, 2007)

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Finding and Keeping Skilled Labor among Mature Workers in Construction Industry

Richard Gilbert, writing in the Journal of Commerce reports that employers in the construction industy are being advised that, if they are having difficulty hiring highly-skilled and experienced staff, they need to pay attention to demographics and to develop strategies to attract, engage and retain mature workers. Barbara Jaworski, founder of the Workplace Institute, spoke at a roundtable discussion hosted by the Applied Science Technologists & Technicians of British Columbia (ASTTBC) and told attendees that “It’s not about being nice to older people. It’s about meeting your organizational needs through the talent, skills and experience of older workers."

In a separate article from Assocated Construction Publications, Steve Hudson of the Dixie Contractor provides the following lists of factors that keep the over-50 set working in construction. First the list of what they worry about:
  • Financial Concerns;
  • Insurance Concerns
  • Not Ready To Retire
Then the list of what they look for:
  • Comfortable Working Conditions
  • Familiar Equipment
  • Reasonable Physical Demands
Thus, for example, Greg Anderson, a supervisor over construction for Southern Land Company, recognizing that "workers over 50 do not want to go out and do physical labor type work," but "want to operate equipment instead," he puts such older workers where they want to be, thus increasing the chances that they will stay on the job.

Sources: Jounral of Commerce "Employers need strategies to attract and retain mature workers" (November 7, 2008); Associated Construction Publications "Retaining the Over-50 Employee: (November 5, 2007)

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Australia: Survey Shows Older Workers Not Planning To Retire Soon

News reports on the results of a Nielsen survey suggest that a growing majority of Australians aged over 55 year have no plans to retire. Specifically, the Nielsen Panorama study found 55% of all workers aged 55 to 64 in 2007 had no plans to retire in the short term, up from 43% from just last year. Furthermore, among workers aged 55 to 59 who were planning a retirement, 44% intend to go for semi-retirement, up from only 32% in 2006, with a similar shift among 60 to 64 year olds.
But Philip Taylor, director of Swinburne University's Business, Work and Ageing Centre for Research, said older workers could be staying at work for longer because they had little choice.

"We may be leaving behind the era of early retirement … it may be about the boomers aspiring to work longer, but one should also ask whether these older workers are being forced to work longer," he said. "Because the Government is rolling back the welfare state that might otherwise have supported them, they're being forced back into the labour market."
Source: The Sydney Morning Herald "Boomers ain't ready to quit workforce" (November 1, 2007); The Age "Grey is good, grey is great, grey works" (November 2, 2007)

Friday, November 02, 2007

New Zealand: Workers Over 65 Have Largest Injury Rate

A report from Statistics New Zealand derived from Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) claims shows that workers aged 65 years and over sustained work-related injuries at a rate considerably higher than any other age group. Thus, while those workers aged 65 years and over comprised 2.4% of the workforce, approximately 9,100 (20%) suffered some form of injury at work in 2006. In addition, workers in this age group accounted for 24 of the 81 claims lodged for work-related fatalities.

The report--Injury Statistics--Work-related Claims: 2006--also shows that older workers were over-represented among the more serious injury claims, which were those requiring weekly compensation or rehabilitation payments, at a rate almost three times higher than any other age group, with 45 per 1,000 full-time equivalent workers (FTEs).

Source: Statistics New Zealand Media Release (October 30, 2007)

Age Concern New Zeland calls these statistics "rubbish." "This claim is needlessly alarming older people and employers. The increasing number of seniors participating in the workforce is one of the great success stories of positive ageing, but this could put the fight against ageism in workplaces back by years," says Age Concern National President Jill Williams. He adds: "A greater proportion of older workers work part-time: but they've been rolled together in the stats to make full-time equivalents, and that's then being compared with individual ACC claims."

Source: Age Concern New Zealand Press Release (November 4, 2007)

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Safety Engineers Urge Businesses To Design Workplaces for an Aging Workforce

According to the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), businesses should begin designing systems and processes that enable older workers to maximize productivity and minimize potential error rates. To avoid negative economic consequences and "[t]o accommodate the aging workforce and to work to reduce fatality rates, businesses should design a safe workplace for this large aging and valuable workforce," ASSE member Joel Haight, Ph.D, P.E., CSP, CIH, and associate professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering at Penn State University, said.

Dr. Haight was the presenter at a webinar on "Designing for an Aging Workforce" sponsored aby ASSE at which he discussed how physical and cognitive capacity losses affect productivity and injury rates in the aging workforce and the question as to whether designing a work space to accommodate age-related capacity losses in older workers actually help minimize age-induced error rates and increase productivity.

Recognizing that there is no one-size-fits-all solution, ASSE members suggested, among other things, the following means for increasing workplace safety for an aging workforce:
  • Improve illumination, add color contrast;
  • Eliminate heavy lifts, elevated work from ladders and long reaches;
  • Design work floors and platforms with smooth and solid decking while still allowing some cushioning;
  • Reduce static standing time;
  • Remove clutter from control panels and computer screens and use large video displays;
  • Reduce noise levels;
  • Utilize hands free volume adjustable telephone equipment;
  • Increase task rotation which will reduce the strain of repetitive motion;
  • Increase the time allowed for making decisions; and
  • Provide opportunities for practice and time to develop task familiarity.
Source: American Society of Safety Engineers News Release (October 30, 2007)