Retirement ages in most developing countries are being increased as governments cope with falling birthrates and ageing populations. In Singapore, the retirement age has been raised from 60 years to 62, and further increases are expected in the future. New legislation means employers must offer workers who turn 62 the option to continue to work till age 67 (wef 1 July 2017). Given these new developments, it is timely now for companies to review their workplace and employment practices to ensure that they are compliant with new laws, and continue to be able to attract and retain workers.
The benefits of having mature workers are many:
#1 – older workers bring a degree of maturity to the workforce and often become role models and mentors to younger staff. In most cases, they are also more patient and perform well in customer facing roles;
#2 – mature workers provide workforce stability – they do not change jobs as often, and they can focus better on performing their roles well, without worry about competition from colleagues about climbing the career ladder; and
#3 – mature workers possess a wealth of experience and institutional knowledge that cannot be easily replaced.
Making the workplace suitable for mature workers can take various forms:
#1: Flexible Arrangements – Mature workers may have different priorities than those of younger employees. Very often, mature workers are keen to spend more time with family, be doting grandparents, or to work on hobbies and activities that have been put aside while they climbed the career ladder. Providing flexible arrangements such as shortened working hours or allowing employees to work from home would make it possible for mature workers to balance work and personal commitments.
#2: Automation / Mechanisation – the introduction of certain types of technology and machinery can make many jobs, especially the more physically demanding jobs, more suitable for mature workers by reducing the reliance on physical capabilities. This also includes technology such as larger screens to display larger fonts and user friendly IT interfaces.
#3: Training – While mature workers possess a wealth of knowledge and experience, training still needs to be conducted to equip them with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to deal with new technology and new equipment.
#4: Explore Different Roles – Many companies tap on the experience and knowledge of mature workers by assigning them to teaching or mentoring roles. Such roles not only allow the company to retain knowledge, but to transfer knowledge to enable newer workers to benefit from years of experience.
#5: Adjust Remuneration and Rewards – Remuneration and rewards should be tied to the work performance and work outputs of employees, and not to the age of the employee. Employers should evaluate the roles of mature workers and adjust remuneration where necessary. Establishing a set of different benefits for mature workers will also help keep mature workers in the workforce longer – for example, while younger workers will appreciate lifestyle benefits, mature workers typically prefer better healthcare benefits, or benefits that allow them more time for family. A flexible benefits system will go a long way to help different groups of employees tailor thier benefits scheme to their respective needs.
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