The most recent Complete Life Tables compiled by the Department of Statistics Singapore (Singstat) indicate that Singaporeans can expect to live longer.  While this is generally great news for many, employers have to view it from a perspective of two other trends:

  • falling birthrate – the singapore fertility rate continues to remain low with a fertility rate of 1.15.  This is well below the replacement rate of 2.1 required for Singapore to maintain its population level at zero growth.  Consequently, the citizen old-age support ratio (defined as the number of citizens aged 15-64 supporting each citizen aged 65 or older) has dropped from 7.2 in 2010 to 7.0 in 2011, meaning there are less young people to support each elderly citizen; and
  • ageing workforce – the proportion of workers aged 65 and above has increased from 7.2% in 2000 to 9.3% in 2011.

The inescapable conclusion from this is that there will be more mature workers in employment.  There are many advantages to this – mature workers are experienced, disciplined, and knowledgable about their work.  Many possess skills and know-how that cannot be easily learned from the classroom, and the vast majority have picked up the necessary skills to work in today’s high-tech, information-enabled business environment.

However, employers who wish to reap the rewards of having a mature workforce have to be prepared to make some adjustments:

  • managing a multi-generational workforce – one of the greatest challenges facing many employers today is how to manage a workforce that is so diverese in terms of culture, age, needs, and expectations.  Many have found that a cookie cutter approach will not work as baby-boomers, Gen X, and Gen Y employees are motivated differently, have different attitudes to work, and have different perceptions towards career, rewards and recognition, job security, and job satisfaction.  Consequently, changes need to be made to how performance is measured and linked to rewards, how jobs are defined, how benefits are designed, and how team and reporting structures are organized; and
  • redesigning jobs – as more jobs get done by mature workers, there is a need to make these jobs more ’employee friendly’ by reducing elements of danger and physical exertion, and adjusting for the hearing, visual, and mobility needs of older workers

Employers today still have the flexibility to choose to work with younger employees.  However, it is inevitable that the proportion of older workers in employment will increase.  Employers need to start working today to prepare their workplaces for mature workers – early preapartion will ensure proper integration of employees from different generations, improve retention through better cultural fit, and enhance productivity through better job design and job fit.

Contact us for more information on how you can prepare your workplace for older workers.

Related links:

Retirement and Re-employment Act

Redesigning Jobs for Mature Workers

Gen Y vs Gen X Employee