Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Collaborative Health and Safety Solutions for Employers To Keep Older Workers on the Job

Following research finding that Americans are now staying on the clock 10 to 15 years post retirement and that musculoskeletal impairments are at the top of major impairments that aging workers experience, Kenneth Mitchell, PhD, vice president of the return-to-work programs for UnumProvident Corp., has comprised collaborative solutions that can be applied within industries that recognize workers who are older than 50 as a critical part of their current and future workforce. As reported by Jessica LaGrossa for Advance, these steps will help employers maintain employees and their productivity:
  1. Identify and reduce risk factors within the older work force: the cost of poor health and aging is influenced through timely risk management.
  2. Develop and apply corporate policies that invite and reward worksite flexibility and accessibility.
  3. Reward employees for accepting responsibility for personal well-being and protecting work capacity.
  4. Provide incentives for continued productivity by supporting services to reduce the impact of complex family barriers to staying productive.
  5. Apply corporate resources to measure the impact of productive aging programs and the subsequent return on investment.
  6. Offer programs within the organization that promote generational equity in protecting productivity. Reduced productivity is not an older-worker issue, but an all-worker issue.
Source: Advance "The New Workforce: Effective strategies can keep older employees happier, healthier and more productive" (March 24, 2008)

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Australia: More Workers Keep Working after 65

According to an analysis of recent Australian Bureau of Statistics releases, the number of older people working beyond 65 has jumped by almost half in three years, perhaps foreshadowing a landmark change in Australians' attitudes to retirement. Writing for The Age, Tim Colebatch suggests that having over 250,000 people staying in the workforce after reaching the traditional retirement age might indicate that employers battling a tight labor market are throwing retirement ages out the window.

Colebatch writes that the shift in slightly younger workers may be even more dramatic. In 2007, almost half of those in their early 60's were working, up from one in three a decade ago, and barely one in four a generation ago.

Source: The Age "Older workers turn backs on retirement" (March 26, 2008)

Survey: Generational Divide on Worker Attitudes Towards Web 2.0 and Technology Devices

According to a Symantec survey conducted by Applied Research-West to measure IT risk issues surrounding the emerging millennial workforce within companies, millennial workers (those born after 1980) have differing attitudes regarding the use and adoption of technology in the work environment, when compared to their older colleagues. Among other things, they access Web 2.0 applications much more frequently at work than other workers, are much less likely to stick to company-issued devices or software, and are far more likely to store corporate data on personal devices regularly.

Source: Symantec Weblog "Millennial Workforce: IT Risk or Benefit?" (March 18, 2008); Wall St. Journal Business & Technology "Young People Spark a Tech Culture Clash" (March 24, 2008)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Commentary: Dr. Robert N. Butler, the Longevity Revolution, and Work

Bob Moos, a staff writer for The Dallas Morning News covering aging issues, follows the conclusions of Dr. Richard N. Butler, on the publication of his latest book: The Longevity Revolution: The Benefits and Challenges of Living a Long Life. Butler, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Why Survive?: Being Old in America, which "first raised the topic of growing old in a country preoccupied with youth," is again trying to engage the country in another discussion about old age by focusing on the challenges posed by the gain in life expectancy.

As Moos writes, "[w]e haven't figured out how to accommodate older people's desire to work or volunteer so that the additional years become productive for them and rewarding for society. Retirement can't mean idleness if it's to last a third of someone's adult life." Among other things, we need to get rid of stereotypes about aging: advocacy groups "trying to create more opportunities for older workers continue to run into employers who view them as rigid, unwilling to learn new skills or likely to quit their jobs after a short while."

Butler suggests that the political agenda of baby boomers should include creating opportunities for those who want, or need, to continue working past the traditional retirement age:
The marketplace itself will solve part of the problem, as a projected labor shortage in certain industries will make employers more willing to hold onto their older employees. But Dr. Butler suggests nudging other employers, by offering financial incentives or eliminating current barriers to hiring older adults.

He proposes, for example, allowing people to qualify for Medicare at 55, instead of 65, and making it the primary payer of their health care. Older workers would then become less expensive and more attractive to businesses.
Source: Dallas Morning News "Bob Moos: The Longevity Revolution" (March 23, 2008)

Read an excerpt: Richard N. Butler Excerpt from Chapter 13

Thursday, March 20, 2008

South Korean Workforce Continues to Age

According to South Korea's National Statistical Office (NSO), the number of workers over 40 has increased at a fast pace while those in their 20s and 30s is declining. Over all, employees over 40 rose 3.5% to 13.2 million at the end of 2007 from a year earlier, accounting for 56.4% of the total workforce; this compares with 55.1% in 2006 and 53.7% in 2005.

Similar growth in older workers was also seen in older age groups: those in their 50's accounted for 17.5% of the total in 2007 (as compared to 16.6% in 2006), while those in their 60's accounted for 11.2% of the total in 2007 (as compared to 10.8% in 2006).

A report on the NSO results in The Korea Times states:
"With the rapidly aging population, a growing number of older Koreans, including retirees, are entering the labor market as they are forced to keep on working due to inadequate retirement savings. Also, a larger number of the elderly decide to get jobs for reasons other than financial, including health benefits," an NSO official said. He said the majority of older workers engage in lowly paid positions, usually involving manual labour in the services sector.
Source: The Korea Times "Workers Over 40 Takes 56% of Workforce" (March 20, 2008)

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Canada: Older Workers Helping Trend to Shorter Work Weeks

A study from Statistics Canada shows that fewer full-time Canadian workers are putting in long hours on the job, with older workers providing a significant part of the decline. According to "Hours polarization revisited", published in Perspectives on Labour and Income, in 2006, full-time workers put in 40.8 hours on the job on average, down from 41.5 hours in 1997, with men trending down from working long weeks (49 hours or more) and women trending up from short-term or part-time work to regular workweeks of 30 to 40 hours.

With respect to older workers (55 and above), the report found a shift away from working very long hours and and noted, in this group, the largest growth in working between 15 and 39 hours. This brought their standard workweek down 0.5 hours to 36.3 in 2006.
Interestingly, the increase in working 15 to 29 hours by older workers was for men only. While a larger proportion of older men worked 15 to 29 hours in 2006, fewer worked a 40-hour schedule (or 49 hours or more). This might indicate that older men are phasing into retirement as more of them cut back their hours or take on part-time hours after their career jobs are finished. In 2006, almost three in four men aged 55 and over worked part time out of personal preference compared with one in four men 25 to 54.
The survey also noted that older workers were becoming a larger segment of the workforce as their share of employment "increased from 10% in 1997 to 14% in 2006, while the share of core-age workers declined (from 75% to 70%) and the share of young workers remained at 15%."

Source: Statistics Canada The Daily (March 18, 2008)

Additional Source: Regina (CA) Leader-Post "Men working fewer hours: StatsCan" (March 18, 2008)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Europe: Foundation Creates Resource for Active Aging Research

The European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound) has launched a major communication campaign on active ageing. According to Eurofound, promoting employment opportunities for an ageing workforce is a complex challenge that requires rethinking at company, national and EU level. Eurofound's campaign is aimed at bringing policymakers, companies and society up to par with the latest research data, recommendations and case examples to tackle the challenges and explore the opportunities associated with active ageing.

To this end, Eurofound has published an online Resource Pack for "Working longer, living better-–Europe’s coming of age" launched with a variety of materials, inlcuding:Source: European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions Press Release (March 14, 2008)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Survey: Older Workers Growing More Comfortable with Change

Most working Americans aged 50 and older (65%) are becoming more comfortable with change and uncertainty as they grow older according to a survey released by SecurePath by Transamerica. Furthermore, the survey reports that 50% of these workers say they are at their best during times of change and 50% say that change is exciting. Based on employee attitudes, the survey differentiating pre-retirees and identifies four key segments based on their “change profiles”:
  • Venturers: employees exhilarated by change--they have a high level of confidence about investing and retirement.
  • Adapters: employees who tend to shy away from change finding it stressful but also exciting--many feel they will be in control of their retirement, are confident they will handle the transition well, and believe everything will work out.
  • Anchoreds: employees who look for consistency in their lives rather than seek change--their apprehension towards change negatively affects their confidence in their retirement savings and their investing and may lead them to be less prepared for retirement.
  • Pursuers: employees who prefer change and find it exciting, but don’t always feel they handle it well--as a group, they are the most likely to say they will continue working instead of retiring. Their desire for change coupled with their lack of confidence leaves them open to retirement planning ideas but also with a need for reassurance in order to execute.
Among other fndings, the study suggests they are not only comfortable with the uncertainty; they also may be more realistic than commonly thought about their next life stage. In this regard, it finds that 68% plan to be working in some capacity as they age.

Source: SecurePath by Transamerica Press Release (March 12, 2008)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Survey: Best Employers for Job Seekers Over 40

Yale-New Haven Hospital, The Hartford, Princeton University, PNC Bank, Southeast Corporate FCU, Compuware, and UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences were named as the Best Employers in the US for Job Seekers Over 40 in the first survey conducted by Jobs4.0. Employers were judged on over 20 separate criteria, including rates of new hires of workers over 40, recruitment policies and goals, health benefits and job security for older workers, flexible work options for older workers and more.

According to Jobs4.0 founder and CEO Steven J. Greenberg, "Older job seekers desperately want to find employers that will not view their age and experience as something to be avoided. Ageism in hiring remains prevalent in too many places, and this survey will help point older job seekers--not only retiring baby boomers, but all workers 40 and above--in the right direction."

Source: Jobs4.0 Press Release (March 11, 2008)

Monday, March 10, 2008

Successful Strategies for Retaining Older Workers: Urban Institute Paper

The Urban Institute has published a paper outlining successful strategies employers can use to do more to attract and retain older workers, many of whom are highly experienced, knowledgeable. According to the paper--"Current Strategies to Employ and Retain Older Workers" by Lauren Eyster, Richard W. Johnson, and Eric Toder--successful approaches include offering formal and informal phased retirement options and creating flexible work arrangements, such as part-time work, flexible schedules, job sharing, telework arrangements, and snowbird programs.

In addition the authors of this report, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration to support the work of the Taskforce on the Aging of the American Workforce, point out that federal, state, and local governments, as well as nonprofit organizations and post-secondary educational institutions, help older workers find employment and secure job training and educate employers about the value of older workers.

Source: Urban Institute Research Summary (March 7, 2008)

Friday, March 07, 2008

Australia: Survey Suggests Older Workers the Key to Growth

Workers aged 55 and older, not generation Y, appear to be the answer to the ongoing skills and labor shortage for Australian employers, according to the results of research by Econtech commissioned by Mercer Consulting. Accordingly, employers should shift their focus from young to old, and particularly older women, to maintain productivity.

Specifically, Mercer reports by 2012, workers in the labor force aged 55+ will increase by 14% while workers aged 25-54 will increase by only 5%. In addition, women aged 45+ will increase by 12% while the number of men in the same age group will increase by only 6%.

According to Head of Mercer’s retirement business, Mr Tim Jenkins, employers--particularly in industries facing increased employment demand--"have to hold onto older workers about to exit the workforce.” In addition, he said:
Australian employers have to re-define what the average daily and weekly job looks like and how it is remunerated in order to hold onto older workers, maintain productivity and keep downward pressure on wages that, according to our research, are forecast to rise at an average annual rate of 4.2% between now and 2012.
On the practical level, he posed a number of questions to employers such as "how many jobs really need to be full-time, all of the time? How many part-time workers are needed to deliver current and future productivity requirements? How do you fill entry level jobs when the available labour force is dominated by experienced 55+ workers?" Employers have to change the stigma around part-time work not equating to a career or a promotion, and "employers are going to have to create more part-time roles as career roles."

Source: Marcer Press Release (March 5, 2008)

Canada: Median Age of Workforce Goes over 40 for First Time in 2006

Statistics Canada's review of the 2006 census shows that the median age of the labor force surpassed 40 years for the first time--rising from 39.5 years in 2001 to 41.2 years in 2006. The percentage of older employees also grew, so that, in 2006, workers aged 55 and older accounted for 15.3% of the total labor force, up from 11.7% in 2001.

Farmers continued to have the highest median age of all occupations in the country: 52 in 2006; up from 51 five years earlier. Farmers and farm managers aged 55 or older in 2006 accounted for 42% of the total in the occupation. The occupations with the next highest median age were real estate agents and property administrators, followed by ministers of religion, bus drivers and other transit operators, senior managers in health, education, social and community services, and senior government managers.

Source: Statistics Canada "Canada's Changing Labour Force, 2006 Census: Findings" (March 4, 2008)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Survey: Small Businesses More Prepared for Aging Workforce

The National Association of Professional Employer Organization (NAPEO) has released the results of a survey showing that 28% of small-business owners surveyed have planned for knowledge transfer from experienced older workers approaching retirement age to other workers. This contrasts with recent recent survey results from Novations that only one-quarter of large organizations are making any effort to transfer knowledge from soon-to-retire baby boomers to other workers and just 4% have created a formal process to pass on know-how.

According to Milan P. Yager, NAPEO's executive vice president, small business owners also know their own value and will not let themselves get caught short when it's time for them to leave: 35% say their own retirement plan is solid and another 10% will have a plan in place by the end of 2008.

In addition, the NAPEO survey reports that the small businesses have more older workers, with 21% saying that at least 5% of their workers are 60 to 64, compared to 16% last year. Furthermore, 37% (compare to 18% in 2007) are delaying retirement, and only 4% said that some workers would retire before age 65.

Source: National Association of Professional Employer Organization Press Release (March 5, 2008)

Boston College Center on Aging & Work Launches States Initiative, Multigenerational Focus

According to an article in the Boston College Chronicle, the Boston College Center on Aging & Work is launching a State Perspectives Institute that will collaborate with states on promoting the aging public sector workforce as a potential economic asset. Among other things, the Institute will "gather information and work with state leaders to raise awareness of the benefits of a multigenerational workforce in the 21st century."

One of the goals of the Initiative is to release of a series of profiles on the multigenerational workforce for all 50 states produced in partnership with Experience Wave. These profiles are supposed to provide statistical synopses in areas such as age distribution, labor force participation, industry sector employment, and workforce education and preparedness.

Another project of the Initiative will be States as Employers-of-Choice, a collaboration between the Center and the Twiga Foundation, Inc. of Boise, Idaho, sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The project’s goal is "to increase awareness of the aging public sector workforce as well as provide assessment of the readiness of states" to be employers of choice and to develop practice tools.

Source: Boston College Chronicle (February 28, 2008)

Monday, March 03, 2008

Poland: Older Workers Offer Solution to Demographic Challenge, but Must Overcome Prejudices Against Them

Following on the Polish government's proposals to help make people over the age of 50 more active in the workforce, the Warsaw Business Journal has published an article looking at the demographic challenge facing the Polish labor market. While noting that older workers could be what employers are looking for--offering experience, loyalty and flexibility, the article also suggests that "first the significant obstacle of prejudice must be overcome."

Only 41.5% of people aged 50 to 64 were professionally active in 2006, making Poland's employment rate for this group one of the lowest in the European Union, only beating out Malta. According to an Ipsos Poland survey done for Academy for the Development of Philanthropy (ARFwP), high unemployment in the 1990's and the beginning of the 2000's decade forced a large number of older people to exit the workforce in order to accommodate the younger generation, a trend that was further increased by high labor costs.

According to the Warsaw Business Journal article, labor market experts believe "the government's program is not enough to retain seniors in the workforce or lure them back." Instead, Poland needs a wide range of coordinated initiatives, such as the development of NGOs that would specialize in issues facing older people, such as the AARP in the United States.

On another front, employers also need to show more good will and flexibility in the employment of seniors. However, mere sympathy and pity are not arguments which appeal to entrepreneurs, according to Joanna Tokarz, project coordinator at ARFwP. She is quoted as saying: "The employer has to think in terms of the market, and they should be shown the benefits of employing over-50s in the first place." To enable this ARFwP has launched a project called Zysk z dojrzałości ("Profit from Maturity") in cooperation with Britain's Beth Johnson Foundation, to promote "age friendly" strategies and age-management solutions among employers.

Source: Warsaw Business Journal "Veteran workforce" (March 3, 2008)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

CareerBuilder Launches Job Search Site for Experienced and Retired Workers has launched, a job search site focused on connecting experienced and retired workers with potential employers. This follows a survey showing that 22% of employers say given the shortage of qualified workers, they plan to rehire retirees from other companies in 2008 and that 14% of employers plan to provide incentives for older workers to stay with the company longer.
"According to AARP, nearly one-in-three U.S. workers will be over 50 by the year 2012," said Rosemary Haefner, Vice President of Human Resources at "While some mature workers are expressing an interest in postponing retirement, there’s still a large number of this critical segment of workers who will be leaving their current jobs in the next decade. The challenge now is to make sure we’re connecting those retirees who want to continue working with the employers who want to preserve the value of having these experienced and skilled workers at their companies."
Source: Press Release (February 27, 2008)