Posted by: kenwbudd | December 7, 2010

The Silver Tsunami – Dispelling

Just a decade ago, experts warned of increased labour shortages as the baby boomers marched into retirement en masse but with an aging population facing the prospect of living for decades on shrunken retirement funds, not surprisingly, greying individuals plan to keep on working for as long as possible.

This “silver tsunami” has received a mixed response in the workplace. On the one hand, many employers have been slow to adapt to the changing needs of older workers and perceive them to be costly and troublesome to maintain and hire.

Data shows that people over the age of 55 find it harder to land jobs than their younger counterparts, even though age discrimination is illegal in many countries.

On the other hand, some enlightened companies are working to recruit, retrain and otherwise engage these ‘older’ workers.

These workers bring a lifetime of skills to their jobs and can be highly motivated and productive members of the workplace.

Many of the stereotypes that prevent employers from hiring and making good use of older workers are mere myths and bigotry.

Here are some frequent myths:
Myth. Older workers cost more than younger ones and are less productive on the job.

Reality. Both concerns are untrue. While older workers may take longer to recover from injuries, studies show that they use fewer sick days on the whole than their younger counterparts.

Private Health care costs are actually less for older workers because they no longer have small children as dependents.

When it comes to job performance, older workers frequently outdo their younger colleagues. Older workers have less absenteeism, less turnover, superior interpersonal skills and deal better with customers. The evidence is overwhelming, older workers perform better on just about every level.

Myth. People at or near retirement age tend to lose interest in their jobs.

Reality. Studies find the opposite to be true.In a report titled, “Working in Retirement: A 21st Century Phenomenon,” the Sloan Center on Aging & Work at Boston College, it reported that those who worked past retirement age became more, rather than less, engaged and satisfied with their jobs.

Au contrire, the belief that older workers resist learning new things, older workers ranked “job challenge and learning” as a top source of satisfaction with their work.

Myth. Older workers in the workforce keep younger ones from getting jobs.

Reality. While it may be “a widespread belief that you have to get older people to retire to open up the career ladder and jobs for young people,” the opposite again is true.

Ignorance of this fact caused many French college students to join the massive street protests last fall against raising the retirement age from 60 to 62.

Policies in countries that encourage workers to retire early actually have a damaging impact on youth employment.

This is because the growing number of retirees forces governments to finance their rising pension costs by raising taxes, which causes employers to scale back hiring or pay workers less.

In such cases, employers don’t want to hire more young employees. The old notion of a fixed sum of jobs is just absolutely wrong.”

Many myths about older workers reflect 20th century views of retirement that have proved to be short-lived.

Historically, the idea of people working full-time and stopping completely is an anomaly of world history.

The notion of retiring at age 65 came in with the Social Security system and employer-based pensions. But full retirement was never what most employees wanted. What they want is to keep working in some fashion. They want to change the way they work, but not stop altogether.


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