Saturday, December 04, 2010

Respiratory Ailments Slow Down Older Workers

According to a study prepared by the British Thoracic Society (BTS), 29% of those aged 51 through 60 report that they experience breathlessness, and that most of those state that this has adverse consequences for their work. In fact, the respiratory ailments often led to an extended sickness absence and that workers were more likely to retire due to ill health.
Mike Morgan, chair of the BTS, said: “The research paints a stark picture of the impact of breathlessness on people’s work performance. With the expectation that people will be working for longer, more needs to be done to ensure that the correct strategies are in place to support older workers who might be affected by respiratory problems, and help them to lead their everyday lives.”
Sources: The Telegraph "British workforces 'not geared up' to employ older workers" (December 3, 2010); Personnel Today "One-third of older workers struggle to breathe" (December 2, 2010)

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Workplace Flexibility Groups Look To Greater Employer Engagement

The Sloan Foundation, which has funded numerous research studies around workplace flexibility, gathered many of those researchers and allied business and labor leaders, and government and military officials for a two-day effort to build on what Kathleen Christensen, Program Director, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, termed a "growing consensus that workplace flexibility--in its many forms--can improve lives, support business objectives and strengthen the economy." Among the goals of the "Focus on Workplace Flexibility" gathering, held in Washington, DC, was to strengthen existing partnerships and to accelerate the process of making flexibility a standard of the American workplace. According to speakers, four-fifths of workers want flexibility, but only 29% have it, even though research shows that businesses do not lose profit by endorsing flexible workplaces.

Various research papers were presented at the event, including one focused on older workers ("Phased Retirement and Workplace Flexibility for Older Adults: Opportunities and Challenges" by Richard Johnson of the Urban Institute). In introducing some of these issues, Christensen noted how much is changing around retirement: retirement has become a joint decision for families for the first time, employees are working longer, and spouses are retiring at different times.

Source: Focus on Workplace Flexibility (November 29-30, 2010)

Singapore: Government Employees Will Be Able Secure Post-Retirement Beginning in July 2011

Singapore's Public Service Division has issued guidelines that will allow employees in the Singapore Public Service can look forward to early implementation of re-employment guidelines in July 2011, ahead of the national legislation. Specifically, re-employment will give officers the opportunity to work up to age 65 and, later, up to age 67, if, among other things:
  • an officer has, in the three years prior to retirement, put in satisfactory work performance as well as have no disciplinary action taken against them;
  • an officer is medically fit to continue working;
  • public service organisations may re-employ officers in jobs similar to that before retirement, or on other arrangements such as part-time, job-sharing, or project work; and
  • eligible officers must be informed at least six months before retirement to discuss re-employment, with an offer to be made at least three months before retirement.
Source: Prime Minister's Office Public Services Division Press Release (November 30, 2010)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Study: Retirement Good for One's Physical and Mental Fatigue

According to a study published in the British Medical Journal, while retirement does not change the risk of major chronic diseases, it is associated with a substantial reduction in mental and physical fatigue and depressive symptoms, particularly among people with chronic diseases. In "Effect of retirement on major chronic conditions and fatigue: French GAZEL occupational cohort study", the authors, led by Dr. Hugo Westerlund from Stockholm University, followed a large occupational cohort in France and looked at respiratory disease, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, mental fatigue, and physical fatigue, measured annually by self report over a 15-year observation period.
Several explanations of these findings are possible. If work is tiring for many older workers, the decrease in fatigue could simply reflect removal of the source of the problem. Also, without the demands of work, participants may feel less concerned about limited energy, leading to lower ratings of fatigue. Furthermore, retirement may allow people more time to engage in stimulating and restorative activities, such as physical exercise.
The authors note, however, that participants in the study retired at 55 or close to that age, due to generous retirement provisions in France and from their employer, so that their findings may not apply to settings in which people retire later.

Writing an editorial "Is early retirement good for your health?" in the same issue of the BMJ, Alex Burdorf, PhD, Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, echoed these concerns and stated that "[r]esearch is needed to corroborate these findings in other countries with a substantially higher age of retirement."

Source: British Medical Journal Abstract (November 24, 2010)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Research FInds 55 Plus Workers Remain Unemployed Longer than Younger Workers

New research from Boston College’s Sloan Center on Aging & Work and the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University shows that older job seekers often face daunting challenges in finding employment compared to younger workers. Specifically, according to "The “New Unemployables” -- Older Job Seekers Struggle to Find Work During the Great Recession", co-authored by Maria Heidkamp, Carl Van Horn and Nicole Corre, among job seekers unemployed during the recent recession, adults aged 55+ are finding it increasingly difficult to land a job and are more likely to remain out of work longer than younger job seekers.

Among other findings:
  • 84% of older workers followed who were unemployed in August 2009 were still unemployed in March 2010, and 67% of older job seekers included in the survey reported looking for work longer than a year;
  • 12% of the older workers surveyed had taken new education or training courses in the past year, compared to 20% of younger job seekers;
  • 13% of older job seekers had used online social networking sites, compared to 28% of younger job seekers;
  • 64% of older job seekers rated the job search tools they were using as not helpful, compared to 49% of younger job seekers.
Sources Sloan Center on Aging & Work News (November 16, 2010); New York Times Economix Blog "Older Job-Seekers More Willing to Take a Pay Cut" (November 17, 2010)

EEOC Hears Testimony on Impact of Recession and Age Discrimination on Older Worrkers

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a meeting at which various experts testified that age discrimination is causing the nation’s older workers to have a difficult time maintaining and finding new employment, a problem exacerbated by the downturn in the economy. The hearing was conducted at a time in which the number and percentage of age discrimination charges filed with the EEOC have grown, rising from 16,548 charges--21.8% of all charges--filed in fiscal year 2006, to 22,778--24.4% of all charges--in fiscal year 2009.

In the leadoff testimony, Dr. William Spriggs, Assistant Secretary for Policy, U.S. Department of Labor, testified that the rate of unemployment for people age 55 and over "rose from a pre-recession low of 3.0 percent (November 2007) to reach 7.3% in August, 2010, making the past 22 months the longest spell of high unemployment workers in this age group have experienced in 60 years." Older workers also spend far more time searching for work and are jobless for far longer periods of time compared to workers under 55.

In addition, the EEOC heard testimony on legal issues from Mary Anne Sedey, Partner, Sedey Harper P.C., Michael Foreman, Clinical Professor, Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson School of Law, and R. Scott Oswald, Principal, The Employment Law Group. This was followed by testimony on employer best practices from Deborah Russell, Director, Workforce Issues, American Association of Retired Persons and Cornelia Gamlem, President, GEMS Group and Society for Human Resource Management. Among other things, Gamlem highlighted strategies to create discrimination-free workplaces that recognize the value of older workers; programs, such as flexible work arrangements, that enable employees to work longer if they choose to do so; and ways to implement reductions-in-force to avoid inadvertent age-based discrimination.
"Hard working men and women should never be harassed at work or forced out of their jobs on account of their age,” said EEOC Chair Jacqueline A. Berrien. “The testimony we heard today also sheds light on some of the unique challenges faced by older job seekers and will be invaluable as the Commission works to strengthen its enforcement of the Age Discrimination in Employment Act."

"The treatment of older workers is a matter of grave concern for the Commission,” said EEOC Commissioner Stuart J. Ishimaru. “We must be vigilant that employers do not use the current economy as an excuse for discrimination against older workers.'
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Press Release (November 17, 2010)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Germany: Government Reaffirms Commitment To Raising Retirement Age

According to news reports, Labor Minister Ursula von der Leyen has confirmed that the plan to raise the retirement age gradually beginning in 2012 from 65 to 67 will proceed and presented a report showing improved employment opportunities for older workers. Von der Leyen said that the employment rate for those aged 60 to 65 is currently at 38% and has doubled in the last 10 years; furthermore, without the changes, Germany would be forced to cut pensions or drastically increase employee contributions.

Economists cited in the daily Financial Times Deutschland argued this trend should continue--Martin Dietz from the Institute for Employment Research (IAB) told the paper that an employment rate of 50% was possible for over-60 workers.

The retirement change will begin in 2012, with those born in 1947 having to work one month extra. The transition is to be complete years later when those born in 1967 retire at the age of 67.

Sources: Deutsche Welle "Government sticks to plan for retirement age to increase to 67"; The Local "Labour Ministry defends raising retirement to 67" (November 17, 2010)

Monday, November 15, 2010

European Parliament Calls on Solidarity between Generations including "50-plus Employment Pact Initiative"

The European Parliament has passed a resolution calling for measures to improve job prospects for young and old, and so reduce the costs of funding social security and pensions. The "the demographic challenge and solidarity between generations" resolution addresses rising longevity and a declining birth rate in Europe, stating that access to employment should be at the core of policy-making between generations, as younger and older people face higher levels of unemployment.

Among other things, the resolution proposes that the European Commission and member states take "a fifty-plus employment pact initiative" to increase the share of workforce aged over 50 to 55%, eliminate early retirement incentives, combat aged-based discrimination and to develop incentives and opportunities for workers over the age of 60 to pass on their knowledge and experience. Included would be "setting country-specific targets for access to training and lifelong learning for older workers, broken down by age group and gender, thus increasing the proportion of people of all generations in initial and further training; and facilitating access to training for older workers by the setting up of incentives/bonuses by employers for older workers who decide to continue their education after the age of 50."

The resolution also calls on the Commission to develop a proposal to make 2012 "the European Year of Active ageing and Solidarity between generations", which will highlight the contribution of older people to society.

A background report on on the demographic challenge and solidarity between generations is also available.

Source: European Parliament Press Release (November 11, 2010)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

United Kingdom: 50 Plus Workers Want To Retire Earlier, Note Career Stagnation

A survey conducted by the Employers Forum on Age (EFA) and Cranfield School of Management reports that even though mandatory retirement will end in the United Kingdom and the retirement age will rise to 66 in 2020, on average workers want to retire at 61. In addition, the study--"Change at any Age"--finds that there is considerable stagnation in the careers of many over 50s, and many employers are not currently doing enough to prevent this and the loss of skills and attitudinal problems that result.

The study noted the stagnation in different trends. For example, the average time since individuals had made their last transition was, for those under 30 year olds, 12 months, while it was 28 months for for 31-50 year olds, and 37 months for over 50 year olds. In addition, while romotions were the most common form of career transition overall, older workers were less likely to have been promoted outside of their current business unit. Older workers were also more likely to have reduced the number of hours that they work.
Rachel Krys, Campaign Director at the Employers Forum on Age, comments: "As employment rates have risen in the past decade, there are now a lot more people remaining in their jobs for longer before they retire. However, our study tells us that many employers do not have the correct measures in place to motivate older workers and help them develop. This means that apathy may set in amongst the workforce once it reaches a certain age, which has a detrimental effect on both individuals' own working lives and those around them. Workers now need to have more than one career in their lifetime to keep them motivated as they get older, so therefore many employers must change the way they manage people in the future."
Source: Employers Forum on Age Press Release (November 11, 2010)

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Wealthy Never Retire According to Barclay's Report

According to a survey of wealthier individuals issued by Barclay's Wealth, most of those surveyed want to keep on working in some form and never intend stopping, even if they have little financial need to do so. Barclay's The Age Illusion: How the Wealthy are Redefining Their Retirement calls these people "Nevertirees" and says that they "are very actively engaged in what we would traditionally regard as their retirement years; continuing to work, starting businesses and taking on new projects." Some 60% of respondents say they envision always being involved in commercial or professional work of some kind, whatever their age.

However, while the corporate sector will gain from their experience at the board level, businesses may worry about how to get individuals eventually to step down. In addition, continuing to work may complicate succession issues at firms.
Sarah Harper thinks increasing numbers will want to keep on working but not necessarily in the same role. As lead investigator on Oxford's Ageing Workforce Programme, she has recently completed a study on "Extending Late Life Work" and she says, "We do a lot of work around the importance of the age of 50 to 70 - an age when you're incredibly experienced, you've got so much to offer, but maybe want a second career. Maybe you want to do something different, or maybe you want to stay in the same work but in a different role."
Source: TAEN "The Rise of the Nevertirees" (November 11, 2010)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ireland: Older Workers Faring Better in Recession in Both North and South

According to the Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland (CARDI), older people are better represented in the workforce in Ireland, North and South, than in the past and have been less affected by unemployment during the recession than their younger counterparts. This information was presented at a seminar on "Living Longer, Working Longer" at which CARDI also explored issues such as the impact of an aging population on Ireland’s workforce, North and South; the reasons why some people retire early and others continue working; and the urgent need for research on older people’s experiences in the workforce in light of the fact that the retirement age is set to rise.

On the statistical front, the number of workers aged 55 or older rose by 73% in the Republic of Ireland between 1998 and 2008 (up 120,000) and by 50% in Northern Ireland (up 35,000). In particular, older women have benefited, with the female labour force participation rate at age 55-59 jumping in the Republic of Ireland by a full 20 percentage points, from 30% to 50%, and for women aged 60-64 increasing from 17% to 33%.
“The pension age in both the Republic of Ireland will rise to 66 in 2014 and Northern Ireland in 2016 and later to 68,” said [Paul McGill, Strategic Research Officer with CARDI]. “At the same time, the numbers of older people in Ireland as a whole are steadily increasing: by 2041, it is estimated there will be 1.89 million people aged 65 and over. In light of this, government and employers need to make provisions now to accommodate older workers."
CARDI cited a number of reasons why older people are better represented in Northern Ireland’s current workforce than they were in the past, including:
  • employers having greater difficulty offering pension top-ups to encourage early retirement;
  • the outlawing of discrimination against older workers is beginning to have an effect;
  • older people may have been worried by increases in food and fuel prices during the economic boom and, as a result, decided to hold on to their jobs for longer; and
  • Poor private pension provision.
Source: Centre for Ageing Research and Development in Ireland News (November 10, 2010)

Russia: No Plans To Raise Retirement Age

In an interview published in Rossiiskaya Gazeta, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev says that there are no plans to raise the retirement age, even if there are shortfalls in the Russian pension system and one of the lowest retirement ages. According to Medvedev, the much lower mortality age in Russia dictates a different approach to retirement age than in other Western countries.
“In a society where people live up to 90 years, retirement at the age of 70 appears to be normal. In such a society people are confident that with the high level of health care and proper attention to their own health after retirement they have many years to rest, travel around the world and spend time with grandchildren,” the president said.

“It’s not so simple here. And this is why we cannot just copy Western pension systems. Our life standards are different. And the average life expectancy is different too,” he added.
However, Russian presidential aide Arkady Dvorkovich said the country might need to increase the retirement age in several years.

Source: ITAR-TASS "Medvedev says no plans to raise retirement age in Russia in near futurŠµ" (November 11, 2010)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

France: Pension Reforms Signed into Law

According to press reports, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has signed into law pension reform changes that will gradually raise by two years the minimum retirement age and the fully pensionable retirement age, to 62 and 67, respectively. The signing followed immediately on the approval of those provisions by the Constitutional Council.

The Council's decision and the law are available in the Journal Officiel of November 10, 2010.

As noted in the Washington Post, this change is viewed by some outside France as only a moderate change:
Simon Tilford, chief economist at the Center for European Reform in London, says Sarkozy "had no choice" other than to get the reform through because otherwise France's - and his - credibility would have suffered.

"For anyone outside of France, this looks like a pretty modest move forward," he said. "Other EU countries are moving much much more rapidly" on pension reform.

France has the highest life expectancy in Europe but still one of the lowest retirement ages, prompting Tilford to predict that retirement issues will come up again before markets believe that France has its finances in order.

"A retirement age of 62 is still far far too low," he said.
Sources: Reuters "France's disputed pension reform becomes law" (November 10, 2010); Washington Post "Sarkozy signs the law: French retire at 62, not 60" (November 11, 2010)

Friday, November 05, 2010

United Kingdom: Study Shows Offshore Workers are Getting Younger

In a sign that concerns about an aging workforce in the energy sector may be receding, Oil & Gas UK has released a report showing that, for 2009, the average age of offshore workers is 40.4 years old--the lowest since the industry body began compiling this data in 2006. According to "Oil & Gas UK Workforce Demographic Report 2009," there is also evidence of much younger workers taking up positions in key areas, with, for example, increases in the numbers of 18 to 23 year olds and 24 to 29 year olds working in areas such as deck crew, drilling, electrical, management, production, rigging and scaffolding.
Oil & Gas UK’s health, safety and employment issues director, Robert Paterson, said: “Oil & Gas UK’s latest offshore workforce demographics report highlights some very positive findings indeed.

“It’s encouraging to see evidence of not only the youngest recorded average age of offshore workers but more and more young people under the age of 30 taking up important skilled jobs in key areas of the offshore industry.

“I think we can now put the myth to bed that the North Sea and wider UKCS has an ageing workforce."
Source: Oil & Gas UK Press Release (November 4, 2010)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

United Kingdom: Survey Highlights Reasons for Extending Working Life and Non-age-based Reasons for Ceasing to Work

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has release the results of a survey showing that 41% of employees in the United Kingdom plan to work beyond the state retirement age, compared to 29% who don’t. In addition, the survey of 2,000 workers found that 44% opposed the law giving employers the right to retire employees once they reach their 65th birthday, while just 25% supported it.

Among those employees planning to work beyond the state retirement age, 72% cited financial reasons as a motivation, followed by people’s needs and aspirations to continue using their skills and experience (47%), benefit from social interaction in the workplace (41%), and for self-esteem (34%). In addition, the survey asked the respondents what should guide the extension of working life and 64% cited health, 62% personal performance, and 31% the availability of a suitable job; however, 13% of employees don't believe employers should be able to require people to retire on the basis of any of these criteria.

According to Dianah Worman, diversity adviser, CIPD:
The CIPD, however, warns that employers will need to make sure their people management policies and practices are in mint condition to manage an increasingly age diverse workforce. The prevailing demographic changes, due to people living longer and healthier lives, and an average birth rate that is below replacement level, demand action. Effective and fair performance management across the whole workforce will be critical, as will inclusive and creative approaches to flexible working, to support businesses in meeting their goals. If employers drag their heels in getting to grips with an ageing population and the associated 21st century people management challenges, they will fall behind more progressive competitors in sustaining business performance.
Source: Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development Press Release (October 29, 2010)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Research: Wholesale Sector Behind Other Industries in Preparing for Aging Workforce

According to the latest in a series of industry-focused looks at employer preparedness for an aging workforce, researches at Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College note that the wholesale sector reports greater problems associated with shifts in the age demographics of the workforce as compared to other sectors. In "Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Wholesale Sector," the Center reports that, from 2000-2007, the percentage of wholesale workers aged 55-64 increased by 35% compared to 28% in all industries, and employment of wholesale workers aged 65+ increased by 10%, compared to 7% in all industries.

Among other things, the report finds that that many employers in the wholesale trade sector have only a limited knowledge of their workforce, and that a large-scale exodus of workers could leave some employers in this sector with stiff challenges in locating replacement employees. To this end, the report suggests, among other things, that the the aging of the workforce offers employers in the sectoran opportunity to re-vitalize their flexible work options, because older workers express a preference for access to flexible work options.

Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College Publication News (October 2010)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Survey: Adoption of Social Media at Work by Generations

Gen-Y doesn't have the lock on using social networks at work. According to a survey commissioned by Citrix Online, Gen X workers make up the majority of those who use social networking for business, followed closely by Boomers aged 55 and older, while Gen Y's use of collaborative technology lagged the others. Among the findings by Forrester Consulting, which conducted the survey of 797 "information workers" (anyone who uses a computer for work) evenly split between the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and Australia:
  • Gen Y is least likely to share information via text message (26%, compared to 47% of those aged 55 and older), and least likely to use video conferencing, video chat and web conferencing tools
  • Gen Y is least likely to think meetings are efficient, with only 29% of Gen Y workers thinking meetings used to decide on a course of action are very efficient, compared to 45% of Older Boomers
  • 79% of those aged 55 and over think it's important to have in-person meetings, compared to 65% of Gen Y
Source: Citrix Online Press Release (October 19, 2010)

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

United Kingdom: Britons Want To Avoid Boredom and Keep Working

A survey conducted by Friends Provident has found that British workers hope to continue to work past retirement age to keep themselves active and in touch with the outside world. Specifically, 51% of the respondents stated they wish to continue working after they reach the retirement age as a way of staying active, 47% that they will get bored when they stop working, and 43% that they enjoy the social contact that comes from being in a working environment.

Issued as Visions of Britain 2020 series--Ageing and Retirement, the report also found that "Britons have already started to see an end to 'cliff edge retirement' and a steady turn towards phased retirement, this trend will intensify dramatically in the next ten years. By a ratio of two to one the Delphi Panel of experts felt that older workers will seek jobs which carry less responsibility as they wind down to full retirement. Because of this increasing trend, employers in the next decade will have to act swiftly in adapting their businesses and the roles within them for the new breed of older workers."

Source: Friends Provident News Release (October 18, 2010)

Survey: Employers Confront Loss of Skilled Workers and Critical Knowledge with Retirement of Older Workers

Career Partners International(CPI) has released the results of a survey of senior executives and HR executives and managers from 26 countries, finding that 64% thought retiring workers would have a significant impact on their organization, while at least 90% expect retirements to significantly increase the loss of knowledge and expertise. However, the CPI Global Mature Workforce Survey found that only 34% anticipated making changes to employment practices or benefits or make their organization more attractive for current employees or recruits.

CPI says that the sectors most concerned about their loss of competitive edge due to retirements included business services, government, manufacturing and utilities. In addition, it noted that large and small firms had different expectations about the impact of retiring workers, with 73% of large organizations expecting at least a significant impact, while only 59% of small organizations had similar expectations.

In addition to the survey results, CPI has made available a webinar, which has experts presenting their thoughts on the analysis of results, including additional information not previously presented.

Source: Career Partners International News Release (October 7, 2010)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Book: Global Aging Spurring Globalization, with Younger Countries Poised For Growth

The New York Times Magazine has published an extensive excerpt from a new book by Ted Fishman (Shock of Gray: The Aging of the World's Population and How it Pits Young Against Old, Child Against Parent, Worker Against Boss, Company Against Rival, and Nation Against Nation) in which he, looking at aging demographics globally, argues that he pace of global aging is quickened by the speed and scope of globalization, that these intertwined dynamics bear on the international competition for wealth and power, and that the high costs of keeping our aging population healthy and out of poverty has caused the United States and other rich democracies to lose their economic and political footing. Thus, "[c]ountries on the rise amass wealth and geopolitical clout by refusing to bear those costs. Older countries lose work to younger countries."

Among the many examples Fishman offers of how countries are differing in their approaches to aging populations he shows what China is doing to lure the world’s production and capital while its work force is young.
In large part, it does this by denying meaningful pensions and health care to its people today. Not only do the vast majority of elderly Chinese have little more than their meager savings, but today’s workers have pensions so measly as to be irrelevant. To keep the cost of manufacturing in China low for the rest of the world, the young Chinese work force is, for now, rarely provided more than token pensions, health care or disability insurance. In aging, developed countries, older workers with long tenure are usually at their peak in terms of pay and the cost of their benefits. Here in the United States, for example, health care costs for workers who are between 50 and 65 are, on average, almost two times what they are for their peers in their 30s and 40s. When the median age of workers climbs in the United States, so does the cost of insurance their employers must buy for them.
However, Fishman also points out that the United States is not in the same boat as many rich countries where aging populations have taken hold. where balization can take hold with remarkable swiftness. Thus, Japan was one of the youngest countries in the world until around 1950, and now may be the world’s oldest. In contrast, the United States, while subject to the same two big trends of longer lives and smaller families, is aging much more slowly due to the arrival of young immigrants, including millions from Latin America.

Fishman also addresses various aspects of the aging workforce. For the United States, he notes one apparent contradiction: that at the same time that unemployment among older workers is at a peak, the percentage of older people with jobs is also near a high, because more people must work to make ends meet. He also points out that there is a transformation starting of older workers into a giant contingent workforce. He also suggests that looking at what is happening in "older" countries can help inform where the United States is heading:
In Japan, retirees from the biggest companies are well provided for, but for many of the rest — workers at smaller companies, the self-employed — the fear of outliving their money is real. One in five elderly Japanese lives in poverty. So the Japanese stay on the job when they can. Since 2006, the number of Japanese still working after the customary retirement age of 60 has risen by more than 11 million. Most are officially retired but are back at their companies, under contract. They typically earn about half their former wages.
Source: New York Times Magazine "As Populations Age, a Chance for Younger Nations" (October 14, 2010)

Canada: Chamber of Commerce Issues Call for Action on Aging Workforce

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has released a call for concerted action by governments, the wider business community and other stakeholders to address the problem of Canada’s aging workforce. According to "Canada’s Demographic Crunch: Can Underrepresented Workers Save Us?", a rapidly aging population and workforce will pose a challenge for Canada’s business competitiveness and economic well-being.

The report makes practical recommendations on how best to meet and overcome that challenge. Specifically, the Chamber believes that a multipronged approach, with the aim of replenishing the skilled workforce and boosting labour productivity is needed. Among other things, the Chamber recommends that Canada draw far more extensively on underutilized sources of labor within its borders-young people, older workers, the Aboriginal population and people with disabilities-as well as attract the best and brightest immigrants. To boost labour productivity, Canadian businesses must invest in capital equipment and new technologies and integrate efficiency-enhancing innovations into their operations.
“Many companies and sectors are already facing shortages of the talented people they need to remain competitive and grow,” says [Perrin Beatty, President and CEO of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce]. “The grave concern for Canada’s business community and the well-being of Canadians is that workforce shortages are expected to increase within the present decade as the baby boomer generation retires in droves. The time to act is now.”
Source: The Canadian Chamber of Commerce News Releases (October 14, 2010)

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Singapore: Study Finds Older Workers Want Flexibility, Employers Reluctant to Hire

Singapore's Employer Allliance has released a study showing that older workers want flexible working hours to allow them to spend more time with their families and engage in leisure activities. However, the same study shows that only 5% to 15% of new positions here are made available to older people as employers perceive them to have lower energy levels, lack relevant skills and the ability to adapt quickly.

The employee desires were reported as a result of focus groups. Workers aged 50-54 wanted a job that requires minimal travelling and provides flexible working hours. Those aged 55-59 said they wanted greater flexibility when taking long periods of leave to enjoy leisure activities such as travelling and also wanted a lighter workload.

The employer attitudes were reported as a result of a survey of 22 employers. Despite their reluctance to hire, however, the companies do value older workers who are already in their employment, because of their loyalty and wealth of knowledge.

Source: AsiaOne News "Older workers prefer flexi-work" (October 13, 2010)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stresses on Knees of Older Workers May Lead Them to Claim Workers' Compensation

Dr. David Cooper, director of orthopedic surgery at The Knee Center in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, suggests that knees may be the latest challenge facing aging workers and their employers, as people in their 50s, 60s and older are stay in the workforce and find their knees bearing the brunt. However, Dr. Cooper says that "there is no scientific evidence suggesting repetitive standing causes [arthritis] to accelerate" and that employers need to be wary of workers with preexisting osteoarthritis who blame work-related activities for causing them more pain.

According to Dr. Cooper, arthritis is a disease, not a function of aging; it is genetic and therefore cannot be caused or aggravated by work tasks. He does make some suggestions to mitigate discomfort:
  • Minimize the use of stairs and ladders;
  • Use elevators whenever possible;
  • Use foam mats to provide a cushion on hard floors;
  • Wear comfortable shoes to absorb the pressure; and
  • Walk around occasionally instead of constantly standing in one spot.
Source: Risk & Insurance "Orthopedic surgeon says work activities do not aggravate arthritis" (October 11, 2010)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Canada: Older Workers Landing Jobs

According to an article by Tavia Grant in The Globe and Mail, older workers in Canada have been the biggest gainers in the workforce in 2010. In September alone, there were 37,000 more jobs for workers 55 and older even though overall jobs declined. While she cites a preference among employers for experience and the fact that more older people are actively looking for work than in decades past as factors, she also notes that older workers have become more willing to take a pay cut, making their cost more comparable to someone with less experience:
“Experienced workers are a valuable resource but they also are settling for lower wages,” said Jim Geraghty, president of Happen, a Canadian network for unemployed mid-level to senior managers and executives. “People today need to be more flexible and disregard the old salary expectations.”
Statistics Canada reported a 7.7% increase in job growth over the past year among men aged 55 and older and 5.9% among women over 55, while job creation was flat among middle-aged women and youth and had grown 2.3% for men aged 25 to 54.

Source: Globe and Mail "Experience trumps age in Canadian job market" (October 8, 2010)

Friday, October 08, 2010

United Kingdom: Rise in "Silver" Apprenticeships

Belying the stereotype that people in later life are reluctant to learn new skills, statistics obtained from the Skills Funding Agency by Age UK and The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) show that the number of people aged 50-plus enrolled in apprenticeship programs has grown to a record number of over 5,000 "silver" apprentices, including over 400 people in their 60s and 13 in their 70s, with the oldest apprentice in the United Kingdom being aged 76.
Research by the former Learning and Skills Council shows most 25-plus workers use apprenticeships to develop their skills under their current employers (50%) or move on to a new job (33%). While no similar figures are available for 50-plus workers, the steep rise in the number of apprentices in this age group during the recession suggests that some 50-plus workers may have opted for apprenticeships to elude unemployment.
This growth was first noted among the 25-plus apprentices which rocketed in 2007-2008 from just 300 to 27,200 after the Government started funding apprenticeships for this age group. Prior to then, only a handful of apprentices over the age of 50 enrolled in early pilot schemes.

Sources: AgeUK News Release (October 6, 2010); Daily Telegraph "Recession sees rise of the 'silver' apprentice" (October 7, 2010)

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Study Reports that "Working in Retirement" Will Become the Norm

According to a study by the Families and Work Institute (FWI) and the Sloan Center on Aging & Work, fully 75% of workers aged 50 and older expect to have retirement jobs in the future. This will be a significant change from today, where already one in five workers aged 50 and older has fully retired from his or her former career job but currently is working for pay in a new role--defined as a "retirement job."

"Working In Retirement: A 21st Century Phenomenon", co-authored by Melissa Brown, Kerstin Aumann, Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, Ellen Galinsky and James T. Bond, used data from FWI's 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce and reports that, among other things, money is not the only motivation for continuing to work; 31% report that they are working to stay active, and 18% say they want to contribute and be productive. In fact, less than one in five report working in retirement due to insufficient income, though they do earn less money than those who have never retired-—the typical median yearly income among those working in retirement is $21,000 less than those who have never retired.

Writing about their work in The Huffington Post, Galinsky, Pitt-Catsouphes, and Brown point out five important differences between assumption and reality about older workers in retirement jobs:
  1. Assumption: Careers are Linear; Finding: 20% of U.S. workers over 50 years old have fully retired from a job and are now working.
  2. Assumption: People Work in Retirement Because They Have To; Finding: Retired workers are in the labor force both because they have to and want to.
  3. Assumption: Older Workers Don't Work Very Hard; Finding: Working retirees are working hard and in some ways have better jobs than their pre-retirement jobs.
  4. Assumption: There is Widespread Tension Between Older Workers and Younger Bosses; Finding: Approximately one in ten workers has a supervisor who isn't supportive when work problems arise--regardless of the difference in age between the worker and his or her supervisor.
  5. Assumption 5: Working in Retirement Will Disappear As a Phenomenon When The Recession Eases; Finding: Working in retirement has become the "new normal."
Source: Families and Work Institute News Release (October 6, 2010)

Philippines: Older Workers in Nation without Prohibitions Against Age Discrimination

An article by Allyn Baldemor for provides some insight into how the tough road some older workers have to hoe in the Philippines since the Labor Code does not include age among the factors that employers cannot discriminate against. A bill has been introduced in the Senate to include age as a prohibited basis, but similar legislation three years ago got nowhere. Among the things that Baldemor sites:
  • Many want ads state a preferred age range for job applicants, usually 20 to 28 years old for entry-level positions and up to 44 years old for managerial levels.
  • It is common for employers to assume younger individuals would be fit for the typically long hours and night shifts in call centers.
  • There is a cottage industry in forged birth certificates so older workers can appear younger.
Source: "Faded Glory: Age discrimination in the Philippines" (October 3, 2010)

Survey: 4 in 10 U.S. Workers Planning To Delay Retirement

Towers Watson has released the results of a survey showing that 40% of U.S. workers are planning to retire later than they did two years ago, and a vast majority of workers are prepared to spend less in retirement and are willing to pay more now for greater certainty in their future retirement and health benefits. In particular, older workers and those in poor health comprise the largest percentage of employees planning to delay retirement: 45% of employees in poor health plan to postpone their retirement. In being asked their reasons, 68% of older workers said to keep their health care coverage and 61% blamed the decline in the value of their 401(k) plan.

The survey--"Attitudes Part II: Employee Attitudes Toward Risk"--was conducted with 9,100 employees and found, among other things:
  • more than three-quarters of older workers plan to spend less in retirement than they are spending today;
  • employees are more willing to pay a higher amount for certainty in their retirement and health care benefits compared to 15 months ago;
  • employees across all age groups and plan types are willing to trade higher pay increases for more generous retirement benefits and more predictable health care benefit costs.
According to Towers Watson, the survey found that 63% of respondents are actively paying off their debts to improve their financial situation, 54% are cutting back on their daily spending, and 34% are increasing their monthly savings.
“The economic crisis has had a deep effect on employees’ attitudes toward retirement and especially on risk,” said David Speier, a senior retirement consultant at Towers Watson. “Despite the signs that some employees are saving more, spending less and reducing debt as the economy stabilizes, workers continue to have a fear that they won’t be able to afford retirement — and that will have significant implications on companies’ ability to plan their future workforce needs.”
Source: Towers Watson News Release (October 5, 2010)

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Study: First Boomers Continue To Work Out of Necessity

A research study prepared by the MetLife Mature Market Institute for the first group of Baby Boomers to enter retirement finds that those born between 1946 and 1955 will be forgoing the tradition of a leisure-filled life; instead, their financial obligations, among other things, will encourage many of them to remain in the workforce, some indefinitely.

According to "Early Boomers: How America’s Leading Edge Baby Boomers Will Transform Aging, Work & Retirement," while, in the past, about three-quarters of men and women would be fully retired within four to five years from their 65th birthday, by the time the first Boomers approach age 70, fewer than half of those ages 65 to 69 will have retired. Among other findings:
  • over the next 10 years aging Early Boomers will result in a 50% rise in the number of people 65 to 74 years old, a growth rate for that cohort not seen in 50 years;
  • there are 1.3 million more Early Boomer women than men;
  • the labor force participation rate of Early Boomer men and women is at a 15-year high (65.2%);
  • among working Early Boomers, three-quarters of women and three-fifths of men had white-collar jobs that paid more than other jobs and were less physically demanding, which facilitates more of them staying in the workforce over the next decade.
Source: MetLife Mature Market Institute News Release (September 30, 2010)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Australia: Labor Participation Rates Rise for Older Workers

The Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), in an article "Older People and the Labour Market," reports that the participation rate of Australians aged 55 and over has increased from 25% to 34% over the past 30 years, with most of the increase occurring in the past decade. In 2009-10, around one third of older Australiana (about 1.9 million) were participating in the labor force, making up 16% of the total labour force, up from around 10% three decades earlier.

Breaking the numbers into smaller age bands, ABS reports that 71% of Australians aged 55-59 years were participating in the labor force, 51% of the 60-64 year olds, and 24% of those aged 65-69 years. All of these numbers were up significantly over the last 20 years. However, the participation rates of people aged 70 years and over remained comparatively low, ranging between 2.7% and 4.5% over the last 30 years.

Among other things, the report also showed where older people were working:
In the year to June 2010, around two in five employed men aged 55 years and over worked as Managers (23%) or Professionals (20%). Older men were more likely to be employed in these higher skilled occupations than their younger counterparts and less likely to be employed in more physically demanding occupations such as Technicians and Trade Workers (18%) and Labourers (11%). However, there were 113,000 men aged 55 years and over working as Labourers. Half of these worked as either Construction and Mining Workers (16%), Factory Workers (16%) or Farm, Forestry and Garden Workers (13%).

The most common occupations among women aged 55 years and over were Clerical and Administrative Workers (28%), followed by Professionals (25%). While these were also the most common occupation groups among younger women, those aged 55 years and over were more likely to be employed as Managers and Clerical and Administrative Workers than their younger counterparts, and less likely to be employed as Sales Workers. There were 72,800 women aged 55 years and over employed as Labourers, more than half (54%) of whom worked as Cleaners and Laundry Workers.
Source: Australian Bureau of Statistics Social Trends (September 2010)

Monday, September 27, 2010

New Book on Managing the Older Worker

According to a review in the magazineCanadian Business by Jasmine Budak, Peter Cappelli and Bill Novelli, in their new book Managing the Older Worker: How to Prepare for the New Organizational Order, make the case that "as life expectancies rise, more and more managers will be supervising people twice their age, starting with the already–lingering baby boomers."

Among other things, the authors "urge employers to acknowledge both the value of older employees (for training, mentoring and their corporate knowledge) and their workplace needs (flexibility, respect)." Employers will need to make bridges over the generational gap or face a looming labor shortage. "If you ignore [boomers]," says Novelli, "you're ignoring a third of the workforce."

Source: Canadian Business Magazine "How to manage an aging workforce" (Oct. 11, 2010)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Japan: Delayed Retirements and Employer Preparedness

According to Florian Kolbacher, Japanese organizations have not prepared themselves well for the aging of the world's population, even though Japan is by far the most severely affected nation. Japan's "Year 2007 Problem" (referring to the year in which the first Japanese Boomers turn 60, and thus move into mandatory retirement) could potentially crippling Japanese business from the widespread loss of industry-specific knowledge.
A major reason for concern among Japanese businesses is that Japanese corporate culture has a very distinctive management approach, especially within large organizations. Knowledge is primarily tacit, or taken for granted, and frequently absorbed over long periods of time as workers slowly advance through organizations as they age. Subtleties associated with this type of knowledge, though, are difficult to quantify, document, or access for a new hire.
However, Kobacher reports, 2007 labor crisis failed to materialize, because Japanese Baby Boomers did not begin retiring en masse as expected, but continued working. Neverthless, this has only accentuated other business and social issues in Japanese culture.
Now, though, as older workers remain on the job longer, they are finding that their jobs are changing. "Younger employees, previously lower within a company’s hierarchy, now work in higher positions and are even sometimes direct superiors to their elders," Kohlbacher explains. "Older workers, when rehired, are often managed by former colleagues and even subordinates; hence these older workers are often ranked lower in the hierarchy than younger employees - a difficulty in Japan because of the strongly ingrained seniority system."
Kobacher's comments derive from a presentation to American Chamber of Commerce in Japan (ACCJ) on "Management Implications of Demographic Change in Japan: An Innovation Perspective" in August 2010, published in an article Baby Boomer: What happened to the ‘Year 2007 Problem?" in the April 2010 edition of ACCJ Journal.

Sources: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College News Release (September 13, 2010); News Release (September 15, 2010)

United Kingdom: Research Study Shows Employers Not Ready for Aging Workforce

According to research by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), only 14% of managers in the United Kingdom consider their organization well-prepared to cope with an aging workforce, despite the impending abolition of the Default Retirement Age (DRA) and the fact that a third of UK workers will be aged over 50 by 2020. In their published report--"Managing an Ageing Workforce," CMI and CIPD report that 34% claim board-level recognition of ageing workforce issues is non-existent, despite the fact that 93% see value in retaining the knowledge and experience of older workers.

Among other findings: 43% of managers are not well-informed of their organisation’s retirement policies, 59% note that there is a perception that it is hard for younger employees to manage older people, 40% claim having experienced age discrimination at some stage in their careers, and 41% state that their workplaces are not age diverse.
CMI’s director of policy and research, Petra Wilton, said: “The age profile of the UK workforce is changing, yet UK businesses are woefully underprepared for the impact this will have on their business. This latest research makes it clear that those at senior level in particular are failing to take the issue seriously and that discrimination is still too frequent. If action isn’t taken, employees who are in the 50+ age bracket will feel undervalued and will have no incentive to carry on working beyond normal retirement age. The loss of their talents and considerable experience by businesses not prepared to adapt is reckless in the extreme.”

Dianah Worman, CIPD’s diversity adviser, said: “In difficult economic times businesses are not galvanising the talent and skills available to help them perform more competitively. Employers will need to keep on their toes to respond appropriately to the phasing out of the DRA next year, which will have widespread implications. Clearly businesses already recognise the value of older workers, but this knowledge needs to be matched with appropriate action. We know from this latest research that managers aren’t being supported or trained appropriately in the management of older workers, for example, but it is also apparent that the needs and preferences of older workers have to be better addressed.”
Source: Chartered Management Institute Press Release (September 16, 2010)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

United States: Analysis of Increased Labor Participation Rates of Older Workers

An Economic Letter ("Labor Force Participation and the Future Path of Unemployment"), authored by Joyce Kwok, Mary Daly, and Bart Hobijn, all of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, finds, among other things, that in the case of the labor force participation rate of older workers, secular trends generally overwhelm cyclical patterns. Thus, while participation of workers 55 and over consistently fell from the 1950s through the 1990s, when Social Security, pension, and retiree health benefits increased substantially and conditions were generally favorable for early retirement, in the 1990s, as the value of those retirement programs eroded, older workers reversed the downward trend, and their labor force participation rate has risen steadily, even through cyclical downturns.
Many factors potentially explain the recent increase in older-worker labor force participation. People in this age group increasingly are able to delay retirement because they are healthier and longer lived than previous generations of older workers. They have an incentive to work longer in order to build assets in defined-contribution pension plans and to qualify for larger Social Security benefits. And the rapid growth of health-care costs and decreased availability of retiree health benefits push older people to continue working in order to get health insurance, at least until they are 65 and eligible for Medicare.
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco Economic Letter 2010-27 (September 13, 2010)

Survey: AARP Takes Closer Look at Impact of Recession on 45+ Lower Income Workers

AARP has published results of its investigation of the struggles lower-income older adults are facing during the recession. Among other things, the Closer Look June 2010 Survey found that nearly six in 10 Americans 45+ who make less than $25,000 a year say they are either "not at all" or "not too" confident they will have enough money to pay medical and living expenses in retirement, compared to 36 percent of higher income adults.

On work-related matters, 28% stopped contributing to retirement savings in the past six months, and 14% of adults 45 to 64 reported having to prematurely withdraw funds from retirement savings vehicles. In addition, with many older workers currently facing extended unemployment, 63% said that, based on what they have experienced or observed, older workers face age discrimination in the workplace.

Source: AARP News Release (September 13, 2010)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

United Kingdom: Survey Suggests Small Employers Reluctant to Hire Older Workers

A quarter of the 669 United Kingdom business owners surveyed by say that they would not hire someone over the age of 60. In addition, 15% say that would "maybe" take on an older worker, while 6$ would only do so if the employee was part-time.
Peter Barnett, CEO of business strategy advisors Sales Managed, says: "Many employers have reservations that older people would be set in their ways. Some managers want their employees to do things their way and they see younger people as more ready to conform."

Juan Lobato, founder of website building firm Basekit, comments: "A factor for managers could be how much energy the person has, as energy can decrease with age."
Source: News Release (September 10, 2010)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Best Practices: Integrating Generations In IT Department

Writing in CIO Insight, Don Reisinger has provided a set of practical recommendations for encourage all employees to buy into the technology strategies and process changes you have implemented--including older workers are having trouble adjusting to this new normal, and that adjustment process is probably cutting into corporate productivity. He suggests strategies that can help an IT department make older workers more comfortable with new technologies, new processes, and agile thinking.

Among other things, he encourages adoption of connected technologies, including Blackberries, Facebook, and text messaging, even if older workers are reluctant. On the other hand, however, he suggests sticking to Windows platforms that older workers may be more comfortable with. Most importantly, he says to bring in the hard data:
Prove that new processes and technologies are helping the company. Older employees want to see the organization succeed. Given proof that new solutions are working, they will be far more likely to go along with these.
Source: CIO Insight "Strategic Tech Slideshow:
Help Your Employees Leverage Technology"
(September 6, 2010)

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Case Study: BMW and Equipping the Factory for Older Workers

In "The Globe: How BMW Is Defusing the Demographic Time Bomb" from the March 2010 issue of Harvard Business Review, the authors looked at how BMW responded to what looked like an inevitable decline in the productivity of an aging workforce in the years ahead with an innovative, bottom-up approach for improving productivity. Subsequently, BMW has garnered more publicity for their efforts.

Rather than forcing its aging workers to retire, or even fire them, BMW management tinkered with one assembly line in one division of a huge auto plant, and turned it older overnight, staffing it so that the average age of workers would be 47 (what it's projected to be seven years from now). Then, in responses to asking the workers how to make things better, the company says it made 70 small changes in the workplace, to cut the chance of errors and reduce physical strain.
When workers said their feet hurt, the company made them special shoes, and put in wooden floors. Some got a place to sit: a hairdresser's chair, modified for the assembly line.

Rudolph Mohr, 56, has been working here for 35 years. He finally got a chance to stretch - right on the factory floor. "When I go home, I have more energy," Mohr said.

Some tools were improved, and new computer screens were introduced, with bigger type.
The direct investment in the 2017 line project was almost negligible, approximately €20,000. But the 70 changes increased productivity by 7% in one year, bringing the line on a par with lines in which workers were, on average, younger.

Source: CBS News "How BMW Deals With an Aging Workforce" (September 5, 2010)

Additional sources: BBC "A Factory Fit for an Aging Workforce"

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Towers Watson Reports Improvement in Older Workers' Confidence in Retirement

A survey of U.S. workers conducted by Towers Watson finds that older workers’ confidence in their ability to retire comfortably has rebounded modestly in the past year, but confidence levels remain well below those prior to the financial crisis. Specifically, 50% of workers aged 50 to 64 are very confident about having enough resources to live comfortably five years into retirement, up from 44% in March 2009, but still down from the 63% reported in 2007.

In addition, according to "Retirement Attitudes — Part I: Confidence in Retirement," fewer older workers are now concerned about reduced or eliminated benefits in their defined benefit plans or about their employer’s ability to pay some or all benefits they’ve already earned, with the percentage of older workers who are concerned that their employer will reduce the benefits they earn in the future declined from 44% in 2009 to 39% this year, while the percentage concerned their employer will eliminate benefits they earn in the future dropped from 38% to 30%.

Source: Towers Watson Press Release (September 1, 2010)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Research: Financial and Insurance Industries Ahead of Others in Preparing for Aging Workforce

According to the latest in a series of industry-focused looks at employer preparedness for an aging workforce, researches at Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College report that , the finance and insurance sector in the United States is potentially better prepared for the aging workforce than other industries. In "Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Finance & Insurance Sector," the Center reports that, despite low morale following the economic downturn, firms in this sector have greater awareness of employees’ career plans, work preferences, retirement rates, and are further along in developing succession plan.

The percentage of workers in the financial and insurance industry aged 55-64 has increased by about 38% from 2000-2007, and the proportion of workers aged 65 and over has increased by about 10%, according to the research.

Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College Publication News (August 2010)

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Research: Ignoring and Devaluing Older Workers as Age Discrimination

According to a story in the Bangor (ME) Dailiy News, a researcher is finding a different type of harassment, the isolation and resentment of older workers by younger workers. In a story written by Mal Leary, University of Maine sociology professor Amy Blackstone, who is leading an ongoing study of older Mainers in the workplace, is quoted as saying that "[t]he clearest trend that I have noticed is this issue of isolation or feeling demeaned or left out."

As a form of discrimination that sees unique to older workers, she said that the harassment is very different from that experienced by young and middle-aged workers, which principally is sexual in nature. Blackstone reports that many of the older workers she has surveyed express a sense of being "devalued" by their younger co-workers and that their life experience was not considered important to the other workers.

Source: Bangor Daily News "Older workers face different type of harassment" (August 15, 2010)

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Study: Many Older Workers in Difficult or Physically Demanding Jobs Could Lose Out if Retirement Age Increases

The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) has published a study that demonstrates that a large number of U.S. workers--in particular, those in physically demanding jobs or jobs with difficult work conditions--would be adversely affected by raising the normal retirement age for Social Security. In "Hard Work? Patterns in Physically Demanding Labor Among Older Workers", researcher Hye Jin Rho found that, in 2009, 45% of workers age 58 and older had physically demanding jobs or jobs with difficult working conditions and that, among other things, these were disproportionately held by less educated, poorer, and minority workers.

The study reports that, among other things:
  • difficult jobs were held by 62.4% of Latino workers, 53.2% of black workers, 50.5% of Asian Pacific American workers, and 42.6% percent of white workers.
  • older workers with less than a high school diploma had the highest share of workers (77.2%) in difficult jobs.
  • 56.4% of older workers in the bottom wage quintile had physically demanding jobs compared to only about 17% of those in the top quintile.
  • 63.3% of older workers in the bottom wage quintile had difficult jobs compared to only about 25% of those in the top quintile.
According to Rho, "Many older workers are in jobs that require substantial physical effort, jobs that may not afford them the option of working into their 70s in order to get full retirement benefits."

Source: Center for Economic and Policy Research News Release (August 5, 2010)

Additional Resource: New York Times "Retiring Later Is Hard Road for Laborers" (September 12, 2010)

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Recession Impairing Ability of State and Local Governments To Adjust Retireee Health Liabilities

The Center for State and Local Government Excellence has released an issue brief finding that the U.S. economy has slowed the ability of local governments to address long-term funding of their retiree health care obligations. "How Local Governments are Addressing Retiree Health Care Funding" looks at 206 jurisdictions that were had reported in 2009 that they were likely to adopt a long-term strategy to strengthen their retiree health care funding.

According to the new brief, while the economy, insufficient revenues, and competing budget priorities have posed significant impediment to their plans, many jurisdictions are making sweeping changes in their retiree health care plans. Specifically, the brief reports that:
  • 36% of the jurisdictions have increased or plan to increase the years of service required to vest.
  • 11% have increased the retirement age.
  • 39% have eliminated or plan to eliminate retiree health benefits for new hires.
Source: Center for State and Local Government Excellence News Release (August 5, 2010)

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

United Kingdom: Study Finds Few Changes in Employer Age-Related Practices

In a review of employer practices since the 2006 implementation of the Age Regulations in the United Kingdom, there has been little change in most employers’ age-related policies and practices. According to Second survey of employers’ policies, practices and preferences relating to age, 2010 by Hilary Metcalf and Pamela Meadows for the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and the Department for Work and Pensions (Employment relations research series No: 110), age continues to play a direct role in policies and practices across the range of human resource areas. In addition to retirement, it is particular common in recruitment and, due to a maximum age for pension accrual, in benefits. In addition, the percentage of establishments monitoring the age profile of their workforce has fallen from 32% to 22% since 2006.
There are some areas where the situation appears to have changed, however. These include a reduction in age-related criteria being used in redundancy selection and pay enhancements and a slight decline in the use of compulsory retirement. There has also been a growth in the number of employers’ equal opportunity policies which explicity cover ‘age’ and the use of formal performance appraisals, both of which might help guard against age discrimination.

Source: TAEN News Archive (August 4, 2010)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

State Governments Changing Retirement Rules, Requiring Later Retirement

State governments are increasingly requiring many new government employees to work longer before retiring with a full pension, or are increasing penalties for early retirement, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal. As written by Jeannette Neumann, Michel Corkery, and Marcus Walker, states are responding to widening gaps between the obligations made to workers and the money expected to be available to pay them. "Though lengthening lifespans have been expected to pressure pension systems, the looming fiscal predicament has emboldened lawmakers to demand more years from employees."

Among the changes highlighted in the article:
  • Illinois--lawmakers voted in March to increase the retirement age for most new hires to 67 from 60.
  • Utah--new fire and public safety employees as of July 1, 2011, must work 25 years, up from 20, before getting a full pension. Most other state employees must now work 35 years instead of 30 before receiving their pension.
  • Arizona--increased the "retirement rule"—worker's age plus years of service before retirement—to 85 from 80.
Source: Wall Street Journal Stressed States Are Forcing Workers to Retire Later (February 2, 2010)

Monday, August 02, 2010

Urban Institute Research on Generational Shift in Retirement Patterns

According to research published by the Urban Institute, older adults in the United States are now working longer and taking more complex routes out of the labor force. The study examines how retirement behavior changed over the past 30 years by comparing labor force exits by older workers in three different five-year cohorts--those born from 1913 to 1917 (part of the G.I. Generation), 1933 to 1937 (part of the Silent Generation), and 1943 to 1947 (the early years of the Baby Boom Generation).

In "Work and Retirement Patterns for the G.I. Generation, Silent Generation, and Early Boomers: Thirty Years of Change", co-authored by Richard W. Johnson, Barbara Butrica, and Corina Mommaerts, it is reported that more than 40% of men born 1943 to 1947 did not retire by age 65, compared with only 20% of those born 1933 to 1937. In addition, Men and women born 1933 to 1937 were much more likely than those born 20 years earlier to move to part-time work at older ages and return to work after retiring instead of following the traditional route of retiring only once directly from full-time employment.
Sixty-two is now the most common retirement age by far. More than one-fifth of men born 1943 to 47 working at age 61 retired at age 62. While average retirement ages have been creeping up recently and labor force participation rates have surged after age 62, the share of adults retired by age 62 had not fallen much, especially among men. In light of the financial benefits of working longer and overall improvements in employment prospects at older ages, it is surprising that participation rates have not increased more among men in their late fifties and early sixties. As policymakers debate the wisdom of increasing Social Security's early entitlement age, understanding why so many worker continue to retire by age 62 is a crucial research challenge.
Source: Urban Institute Press Release (August 2, 2010)

Sunday, August 01, 2010

United Kingdom: HSBC Survey Finds Many Older Workers Change Careers

According to press reports, a survey conducted by HSBC shows that 30% of the UK’s 21.3 million over 50s have changed careers in their later working years and that 41% of those aged 60 to 70 have done so. While 21% of those who have changed their career did so as a result of being made redundant, 15% chose to "career shift" for a change of direction, and 11% because they were looking for a career that was less pressurized and demanding.

According to David Wells, Head of Pensions, Savings and Investments at HSBC:
As the requirement for people to work longer becomes more apparent it appears that the over 50s are embracing this head on and pursuing the careers they have always wanted. Many it seems are doing this to fill a shortfall in retirement income, but equally many are looking to embrace new skills and challenges that may now only become possible after careful financial planning during their earlier working life.

Source: The Age and Employment Network "Changing Careers Common among People Aged 50+" (July 30, 2010); "Growing numbers of older workers plan upskilling in a bid for a career change" (July 30, 2010)

Friday, July 30, 2010

United Kingdom: Government Opens Process for Deleting Default Retirement Age by 2011

The United Kingdom's Coalition Government has announced plans for the elimination of the current age 65 default retirement age following a six month transition phase-out from April 2011. Employment Relations Minister Edward Davey is calling on employers, unions and other groups to have their say on a proposal that could allow many people the choice to work beyond the age of 65.

The government's proposal would still make it possible for individual employers to operate a compulsory retirement age, provided that they can objectively justify it. Examples could include air traffic controllers and police officers. In addition, in its consultation, the government asks whether it could provide additional support for individuals and employers in managing without the DRA or statutory retirement procedure. This includes the possibility of future guidance or a more formal code of practice on handling retirement discussions. Views are also being sought on whether removal of the DRA could have unintended consequences for insured benefits and employee share plans.

Click here for a full copy of the consultation.

Sources: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills Press Release (July 29, 2010); Personnel Today "Default retirement age: Employment relations minister Ed Davey writes exclusively for Personnel Today" (July 29, 2010)

Reactions: The Age and Employment Network News Release (July 29, 2010); Daily Telegraph "Scrapping retirement age opens 'Pandora's box’ of tribunal claims" (July 30, 2010)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

United Kingdom: Ageism Persists According to Citizenship Survey

Figures published by the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) as part of the "Citizenship Survey: 2009-10" show that ageism is the biggest single factor for being discriminated against in recruitment. Four percent of all workers aged 50 and over say they have been refused a job because of their age in the past five years. Only those people aged 16-24 has a higher percentage (5%) reporting that they feel they have been discriminated against by recruiters because of their age.

Michelle Mitchell, Age UK Charity Director, said:
The spreading perception of ageism in recruitment shows that, for older workers, the job market is still not fit for purpose.

As more mature workers are pushed into the recruitment arena by the reassessment of welfare-to-work benefits, hundreds of thousands of them will risk coming up against the invisible wall of ageism.

Before forcing people to rejoin the job market or work for longer, the government must lay the foundations of a better job market for older people, with fairness and flexibility as cornerstones.
Sources: Age UK News Release (July 22, 2010); Communities and Local Government News Release (July 22, 2010)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Research: "Traditional" Retirement Recedes as More U.S. Employees Work Past 65

The Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire has released a study confirming that, since the mid-1990s Americans are retiring less and working longer, reversing a decades-long shift to earlier retirement. In "Older Americans Working More, Retiring Less", Anne Shattuck reports that 22% of men and 13% of women over age 65 were in the work force in 2009, an increase from 17% of men and 9% of women over the age of 65 in 1995.
When this change first became apparent, it was unclear whether it would be a temporary halt or a reversal of the decades-long decline in work at older ages. however, recent data indicate that the proportion of older adults working for pay is still growing. although the trend began in the 1990s, the current economic recession may be an important reason that it continues.
Among other things, the report points out:
  • men and women work longer in both rural and urban areas<;
  • those with more education work longer;
  • divorce drives many women to work longer; and
  • most work after age 65 is part-time, but full-time work
    is on the rise.
Source: SeacoastOnline"Still working after age 65" (July 19, 2010)

Monday, July 19, 2010

Research: Skill Shortages in Food and Accommodation Industries May Benefit from Aging Population

In published research identifying pressures from low skills, lack of training, and excess turnover in the accommodation and food sectors, the aging population was pointed out as one potential bright spot. According to "Talent Pressures and the Aging Workforce: Responsive Action Steps for the Accommodation & Food Services Sector", published by Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, the aging of the population may offer employers in this sector new opportunities to employ new workers in new ways. In particular, "[t]here is evidence to suggest that the job flexibilities available in accommodation and food services offer promise as a means of attracting these older workers."
[Employers in this sector] are experiencing even greater skill shortages than other sectors, employers in accommodation and food services appear to be responding in a more aggressive fashion in advancing flexible work arrangements. Many of these employers, nevertheless, are also operating “in the dark,” and have surprisingly limited understanding of the demographic make-up of their workforces, the skills shortages that may be on the horizon, and the competency sets of their current employees.
While he exit of older workers from accommodation and food services may exacerbate the impact of talent shortages, the impact may be minimized--and the potential for hiring seen--since tis sector is also heavily reliant on younger workers, with only 8% of its workforce in 2007 beibg aged 55 or older.

Source: Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College Publication News (June 2010)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Book Explores Industries at Risk and How to Stop Brain Drain from Boomer Retirements

For those worried about the brain drain to follow the retirement of the Baby Boomers, Ken Ball and Gina Gotsill have identified the following industries as ones most likely to feel the impace: oil and gas producers, manufacturers, educational institutions, health care, and government. Their findings, as well as proposals for how employers can assure knowledge transfers, are presented in their book Surviving the Baby Boomer Exodus: Capturing Knowledge for Gen X and Y Employees.
"Negative perceptions and image problems make industries such as utilities, oil and gas producers and marketers, and manufacturing especially vulnerable to impending Boomer retirements," the authors write. "These industries aren't drawing the people who might replace mature workers as they step away. Systemic losses, such as hiring practices and cost-cutting, compound the problem and have created an environment where knowledge gaps could impact operations."
Among other things, the book is advertised as a practical, step-by-step guide that managers and leaders can use to analyze their workforce and the impact retirements could have on business continuity. Using templates, checklists and case studies, Ball and Gotsill explore methods for assessing a company's knowledge gaps and explain how to create a knowledge retention, transfer and retrieval plan.

Sources: HR Morning "Ready for talent crisis after Boomers retire? These industries could be hardest hit" (July 16, 2010); AOL Find a Job "Dime Crunch: Baby Boomer Exodus Puts Many Industries at Risk" (July 12, 2010); Cengage Learning Press Release (June 22, 2010)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Australia: Ageism and IT Workers and Call to Increase Labor Participation Rates of Mature Workers

The Australian Computer Society has released a report revealing that Australia’s mature age participation rate in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector is below that of comparable countries such as Canada, United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States, and calling for both a self regulatory code of practice in this area for the ICT sector, and collaboration between government, industry and the Human Rights Commission to create attitudinal change amongst Australian employers.

According to "The ACS Age Diversity Report, Improving Age Diversity in the ICT Workforce," older ICT workers (45 and over) in Australia are perceived as being less healthy or more prone to disability, being underqualified or having obsolete skills, unable to learn new skills, being over qualified, unable to adapt to new or younger work cultures, looking towards retirement so not worth training, resistant to change, and less adaptive to new technologies.
ACS CEO, Bruce Lakin said, “Ageism is a growing reality in Australia - but so is an increasing awareness that workers 45 years and older represent a resource and knowledge base we need to continue to reinvest in.

“While age discrimination can be difficult to prove, its existence, increasing pervasiveness and negative impacts on mature workers and the workplace in general is undeniable. Age discrimination creates unacceptable levels of unemployment and underemployment amongst those over 45 years which has economic, as well as social and psychological costs. With reported skill shortages within the Australian ICT sector, the underemployment of older workers is a problem which demands significant focus. I thank Brenda Aynsley, VP Membership Boards, Chair of ACS Ageism Task Force and her team for their input to the Report,” said Mr Lakin.
Among other things, the report recommends that:
  1. Government, industry, industry and professional associations should partner to build a stronger Australian evidentiary base upon which to go forward – extent of ageism, impacts on unemployment, the reasons why it is happening, under-employment and hidden unemployment.
  2. The development of a government policy and framework to acknowledge and quantify the cost and other impacts of ageism, economic benefits to firms from employing older workers and to educate employers and employment agents on improving age diversity in the workforce.
  3. As part of its commitment to increasing the participation rate of older workers, the Government should develop policy, regulatory and taxation incentives for employers to provide ongoing professional development and to retain and/or hire older workers.
Source: Australian Computer Society Media Release (July 14, 2010)

United States: Older Workers Outnumber Teenage Workers

According to press reports, number of workers over age 65 who are in the labor force has passed the number of teenagers-—workers aged 16-19—-who are in the labor force for the first time since records were kept in 1948. According to some experts, over the past decade older workers have tended to hang on to their paychecks longer, owing to sagging stock portfolios and falling home prices. The disparity in numbers of workers in these two groups, and the high unemployment rate of teenagers, has some calling for a different minimum wage for teenagers and others for lower Social Security age, at least temporarily.

Other commentators, particularly on the New York Times Economix blog, point out that there isn't much meaning other than demographic information to this statistic. In other words, it is a natural reflection of 65 no longer being the Social Security retirement age and of a greater life expectancy. Furthermore, it is a raw number presentation, rather than a presentation of the labor participation rates of those two age groups.

Sources: San Francisco Chronicle "Working seniors outnumber teens in labor force" (July 14, 2010); New York Times "Seniors Outnumber Teenagers in Job Force" (July 15, 2010)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Research: Older Workers Good Fit for Hospitality Industry without Needing New Skills Training

A study of the employment of older workers in a range of organizations from Scotland's hospitality sector and visitor attraction centers, has found that, in terms of older workers, workforce development might best be focused on utilizing existing skills rather than acquiring new ones. According to Dr. Roy Canning of the University of Stirling, "in many cases older workers were very much the sort of people who fit in with what the hospitality industry is looking for. They are flexible and can work seasonal and odd hours for competitive wages, as the post-retirement job often is a supplement for their pension."

Older workers were found to be generally highly valued employees within organizations, especially since they could contribute experiences as former employees from related enterprises and would provide informal support of colleagues. In addition, older workers were seen as reliable with excellent customer service skill-sets and a strong work ethic, and there were few conflict situations between them and younger managers.

Canning first published results of his investigation in "Tapping older workers' experience", the summer 2010 issue of "Society Today", the journal of the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council):
Findings further suggest there is no need to try and shape the occupational identity of older workers. A good fit can be achieved by recruitment and selection followed by appropriate training and development. Training and development interventions for older workers should, on the most part, concentrate on team building, skill utilisation within collaborative practice and encouragement of self-directed learning.
Source: University of Stirling News Release (July 9, 2010)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Nursing Shortage Masked by "Flood" of Delayed Retirements

According to a story in USA Today, the National Student Nurses' Association has issued an advisory for new nursing school grads warning them that the job market is "flooded" with experienced RNs who have come out of retirement, delayed retirement or gone from part-time to full-time employment because of the recession. Thus, many newly graduated registered nurses can't find jobs.

While large shortages of nurses are still forecast, the story also cites a June 2009 survey by the association of 2,112 spring RN graduates which found 44% hadn't yet landed a nursing job. This reinforces the findings published in 2009 by Vanderbilt University that the recession was temporarily ending a shortage of nurses, but that projected a nursing shortage of 260,000 registered nurses developing by 2025. USA Today quotes:
"It's enough to do significant interruptions to the health care system and potentially even render it inoperable," says Peter Buerhaus, the study's author and director of Vanderbilt's Center for Interdisciplinary Health Workforce Studies. He says it's critical for policy leaders to find a way to keep new nursing graduates in the profession through the recession so projected shortages aren't even worse.
Source: USA Today"New RNs find job market tight" (July 9, 2010)

Friday, July 09, 2010

Aging Workforce Can Increase ADA Compliance Costs

According to a news report, a steadily aging workforce and the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) are combining to cause the Clark County (Nevada) school system to spend more time and money to accommodate its workers needs. The school's annual report on the district’s treatment of staff notes that, in 2009, the district made 55 accommodations--up from 39 in 2008.

The most common medical conditions that required accommodations were deteriorating-bone diseases or impaired vision, followed by epilepsy and diabetes. Among the accommodations made by the school system were moving people to less physically demanding positions, buying special equipment to help them do their jobs, and remodeling campus facilities.

Source: Las Vegas Sun "Aging School District workforce requires more accommodations" (July 9, 2010)