By Claudine Kapel
Does your organization have a strategy for attracting and retaining older workers?
Organizations still on the fence as to whether such a strategy is needed may want to check out the Global AgeWatch Index 2013 – which reports that by 2050, older people (defined as individuals age 60 or older) will make up more than one-fifth of the global population.
According to the index, published by HelpAge International, in 2012 about 11 per cent of the total worldwide population (or 809 million people) were ages 60 or older. But by 2050, this demographic group will represent 22 per cent of the total worldwide population, or more than two billion people.
HelpAge cautions “these unstoppable forces shaping our societies over the coming decades are not yet matched by efforts to ensure that the right policies and actions are in place to create a world in which all generations can flourish.”
These global and national trends and challenges are equally relevant at the organizational level, as employers come to terms with the realities of an aging workforce. But organizations that want a competitive edge when it comes to attracting and retaining older workers need to start by rethinking their total rewards strategy and the extent to which it addresses the needs of this demographic group.
A recent survey by Ceridian and CARP found that while older workers want to continue working in some capacity, they want to do so on their terms.
More than half (57 per cent) of survey respondents indicated they want to continue working in some capacity after they reach age 65. Of these, only 10 per cent would like to stay on in a full-time capacity, while 43 per cent want to “partially retire” and reported flexible part-time, contract, or seasonal work would be their ideal working arrangements.
What can employers do to make older workers feel more valued? The top suggestions from survey respondents included:
- Extended benefits past age 65.
- Flexible work / job sharing.
- Retraining programs to keep skills current.
- Phased in / staged retirement.
- Extended employee wellness programs.
- Workplace mentorship programs.
The focus on extended benefits isn’t surprising, especially given respondents felt their biggest worry in retirement will be about their health.
The survey report offers a variety of strategies to help employers enhance the ability to attract and retain older workers:
- Adapt and accommodate to retain high-performing mature workers. The report suggests employers maintain a “temporary opportunities” database and enable retired workers to have first crack at accessing short-term projects and consultancy roles that appeal to them.
- Examine and enhance workplace offerings and develop a recruitment campaign for mature workers. The report suggests employers conduct a “features and benefits audit” of their workplaces and measure benefits against what appeals to mature workers.
- Support workplace wellness and provide affordable health and wellness services. This may include offering post-retirement benefits as well as programs and seminars that champion the prevention of health issues and positive lifestyle changes.
- Be aware of potential ageism. The report suggests employers should “be prepared to protect against ageism – both overt and covert.”
Although 71 per cent of survey respondents said they feel respected by colleagues, 38 per cent felt they have fewer workplace opportunities due to their age, and a further 17 per cent reported they feel they suffer age discrimination.
An aging population is a global reality. Organizations that respond to these shifts strategically and proactively will hold a distinct advantage when it comes to securing talent in an era of profound demographic change.
Claudine Kapel is principal of Kapel and Associates Inc., a Toronto-based human resources and communications consulting firm specializing in the design and implementation of compensation and total rewards programs. For more information, visit www.kapelandassociates.com.