Leading Employment Practices for Managing Mature and Older Employees

Executive Summary

This six-month long study, conducted by Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) from August 2009 to January 2010, was commissioned by Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) as part of its continuing efforts to encourage and assist companies to adopt fair and responsible employment practices in the face of a rapidly changing workforce.

New trends and challenges are emerging as Singapore’s workforce ages, with more employees working beyond the traditional retirement age. There is a need therefore to address these issues by providing practical help to companies to deal with the growing presence of mature and older employees in the workforce while maintaining a competitive edge.

The Government of Singapore has already introduced a number of initiatives to encourage organizations to value the contributions of mature employees and reap the many benefits of employing them. Employers will also need to be prepared for the upcoming re-employment legislation to be introduced in Singapore by 2012.

The purpose of this study is to assess the existing demographic risks looming over Singapore, identify leading practices incorporated by successful organisations operating in Singapore; and recommend strategies employers can implement to tackle the challenges of managing mature and older employees.

The findings presented in this report were drawn primarily from the following sources:

  • Responses received from 77 organisations operating in Singapore (including 61 online responses and 16 in-depth interviews with respective senior management teams) from a broad spectrum of industries.
  • Secondary analyses of leading practices adopted by organisations operating in a few rapidly ageing nations of the world.
  • Singapore Human Resources Institute (SHRI) proprietary data.

The findings of this study, which may serve as an important baseline for future national policy decisions, will provide many insights into managing mature employees at work and prepare companies to face the inevitable and imminent challenges ahead as Singapore’s workforce ages.

Key Findings

  • In Singapore, the impact of the ageing workforce is being felt by the majority of organisations across industries.
  • Participating organisations have shown encouraging response in re-employing mature and older employees aged 62 years and above.
  • Though many companies surveyed have either re-employed or do encourage re-employing mature employees, the majority have yet to evaluate the present and future impact of the ageing workforce on their industry and organisations.
  • Almost half of the respondents believe the exit of older workforce due to retirement translates into a loss in institutional knowledge.
  • Rising health and insurance costs, concern about physical abilities, and adaptability/willingness to change were ranked as the top three challenges facing companies with mature and older employees.
  • Providing training to upgrade skills of employees, hiring retired employees as consultants or temporary employees and regularly measuring sickness absence are the three most popular and preferred stands taken by organisations to accommodate mature and older employees.
  • Recognising, valuing and accepting work, providing options of flexible work arrangements, training and development, and reinforcing a fair reward system stand out as some of the most popular interventions that organisations would like to adopt to attract mature employees to re-join the workforce and/or continue to work.
  • Nearly 50% of the participating organisations have benefited from various Government schemes and programmes such as Advantage, Work-Life Works! (WoW) and Flexi-Works!

The study also highlights leading practices adopted by a few organisations operating in Singapore and recommends approaches organisations can adopt to convert the challenge of an ageing population into a brilliant opportunity. These include branding the ‘mature’ and ‘older’ workforce, conducting more industry-focused awareness programmes, increasing networking opportunities between those already re-employed and those approaching retirement age, managing multi-generational dynamics, clarifying the re-employment selection criteria, and restructuring/redesigning the job and benefits. ‘Embrace’ is a call to the organisations and society at large to change its thought processes and look beyond conventional boundaries. The only way organisations and societies can secure its competitive edge is by embracing the pool of mature and older talent force.

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