"Age is something that doesn’t matter, unless you are a cheese." Billie Burke, actress.
I talked some time ago about how our life span has changed. We are living longer than ever before, are healthier and want to do more than our mothers and fathers ever did. There is no retirement age and some say no retirement for us. This is having an impact on workplaces.
This week I am asking a few questions and would like to hear your own experiences if you would like to email me back.
In recent years there have been big increases in the numbers of people aged 60 plus who are working. In 2006 73.1% of men and 50.6% of women aged 60 to 64 were working. The number of people in the labour force aged 50 plus more than doubled from 267,000 in June 1991 to 547,000 in June 2005.
If you are retired, how old were you when you retired from your main job?
What are your thoughts and feelings now about retiring when you did?
Despite there being no retirement age many employers still use age, perhaps unthinkingly, as an indicator of performance and employability. But as our workforce becomes smaller, and there is a greater need to retain experienced older employees, some employers may be forced to change their attitudes. It seems blindingly obvious that a very effective way of meeting staff and skill shortfalls is to retain older workers beyond the time when they would normally have left the workforce, or to actively recruit older workers.
In an address to business leaders, David Morgan, a former Chief Executive of Westpac said:
“We should reject early retirement as an acceptable restructuring solution. We should seek more women in our workforces. We should raise participation rates for males in the upper age groups, and increase opportunities for retirees to work part-time…”
If you are over 65, describe what paid work you are doing?
Is it something similar to, or different from, your career job?
Value of Older Workers
In a survey among workplaces recently one employer said
“My experience of older workers is that they bring experience and maturity and are more settled. They think about the business not just about them. Young workers are ambitious and it is ‘all about them’. But we need young people for the physical work. Older workers can come up with clever solutions, driven by self preservation. Younger workers can learn from observing this thinking process and learn.”
What, in your opinion, is the value that older workers bring to the workforce?
Older workers may be encouraged to remain in paid work if flexible working conditions are offered – options such as part-time work, flexible working hours (often between set start and finish times), phased retirement and working from home. It seems that more of these and other options are being offered to older employees to retain them in the workforce.
Have you ever been offered any options such as part time work or working from home so you could stay on working? If so, what are these?
Older Workers as Mentors
Another advantage of retaining older workers is to mentor their younger colleagues. Very few workplaces have any formal mentoring programmes, although this does take place informally, for example through “buddying up” for new employees (regardless of age). Older workers are often looked to for guidance and advice on an informal basis – providing assistance not only with work but sometimes with personal problems.
“Our staff still approach an older woman who worked here, a wise head. They say “Go and have a coffee with J”.
“An older person can explain to a younger one – show how and why. In a busy organisation new people can be tossed in the deep end. If you take them for half a day and show them how things work – why we are doing it this way – then they understand better.”
Apart from superannuation schemes, some workplaces may also offer other benefits or programmes to their retired employees, such as pre-retirement advice or planning. This usually takes the form of seminars, sometimes arranged in-house and sometimes by outside firms.
In your workplace have you ever been offered any pre-retirement advice?
What particular advice would you find, or have you found, most useful?
Here are the questions again:
1. If you are retired, how old were you when you retired from your main job?
2. What are your thoughts and feelings now about retiring when you did?
3. If you are over 65, describe what paid work you are doing? Is it something similar to, or different from, your career job?
4. What, in your opinion, is the value that older workers bring to the workforce?
5. Have you ever been offered any options such as part time work or working from home so you could stay on working? If so, what are these?
6. In your workplace have you ever been offered any pre-retirement advice?
7. What particular advice would you find, or have you found, most useful?
I would very much like to hear your views so please email your answers to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Motivating baby boomers to see the world with fresh eyes.
"We don’t grow older, we grow riper." Pablo Picasso.