What changes are needed to ensure that work in later life is productive, meaningful, and rewarding?

Posted Thursday, April 5th, 2018| Comments (2) rule
Rebecca Casey photo Rebecca Casey
Postdoctoral Fellow, York University, Toronto, Ontario
Ellie Berger Ellie Berger
Associate Professor, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario

Older Workers

People are working later in life for many reasons. They are living longer and are in better health. A delay in entering the labor market, often due to an increasing number of years spent on education, can also alter retirement timing and financial circumstances. Some choose to work longer; others are driven by necessity. Our research suggests that having a choice—whether to continue working past the once “typical” retirement age or not, without feeling forced to do either—is key to satisfaction and happiness for older adults.

Work in later life can be a rewarding choice, both for the older worker and for the employer, but the likelihood that this will be the case has a great deal to do with the structure of the work environment and with workplace practices and policies (including those concerning ageism). The contributions older workers make to the workplace are numerous, but the positive traits most often cited by employers include: experience, mentorship, dedication, reliability, and loyalty. How employers can take advantage of these strengths while also contributing to the well-being of older workers and making working longer an attractive option, is outlined below:

Changes in Work Structure

  • Offering older workers the option to work part-time or on varying shifts
    • These changes may make it easier for older workers to transition into retirement, by giving them time away from work to pursue other interests.
  • Offering older workers opportunities to job-share or take a leave of absence
    • These opportunities would allow older workers time to provide caregiving, accommodate health problems, or participate in volunteer activities without forcing them to exit the labor market.

Accessible Work Environments and Tasks

  • Ensuring that work environments are accessible
    • Workstations should be modifiable and all physical barriers should be removed from the work environment.
    • An accessible work environment will be beneficial for workers of all ages—older workers especially—who require modifications to allow them to keep their jobs.
  • Offering older workers the option to change or modify their job responsibilities as they age
    • Having the ability to reduce, remove, or modify physical tasks could be important in keeping older workers in the workforce.


Ageism can be a major barrier for older people seeking employment.

  • Employers may resist hiring an older worker for the following reasons:
    • Belief that older workers are not as productive
    • Belief that older workers lack an interest in or ability to learn new technology or undergo training
    • Belief that older workers have high turnover rates
  • Older unemployed workers can react to ageism in the following ways:
    • Older workers often internalize ageism, causing their sense of worth to be diminished.
    • Older workers may feel that they have to conceal their age on a resume, by leaving out dates for educational degrees and past work experience.
    • During interviews, older workers may try to alter their appearance to look more “youthful” by dyeing their hair or changing their style of dress.
    • Older unemployed workers can feel pessimistic about their ability to find a new job causing them to accept part-time work or work at lower wages.
For details on these findings, please see Casey, R. & Berger, E.D. (2016). Enriching or Discouraging? Competing Pictures of Aging and Paid Work in Later Life (Revised). Population Change and Lifecourse Strategic Knowledge Cluster Discussion Paper Series/ Un Réseau stratégique de connaissances. Changements de population et parcours de vie. Document de travail, Vol. 3: Issue. 3, Article 3. Available at: http://ir.lib.uwo.ca/pclc/vol3/iss3/3
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Improving how the older labor market is managed: a new era of social partnership

Posted Friday, March 9th, 2018| Comments Off on Improving how the older labor market is managed: a new era of social partnership rule


Matt Flynn
University of Hull
Email: m.flynn@hull.ac.uk

Earlier this year, European organizations representing employers and labor unions signed a framework agreement to promote social dialogue at the national, industrial, and organizational levels on measures to address workplace ageism and make it easier for older workers to stay in the labor market until they reach pension age. At the same time, the agreement called for employers and unions to work together to address youth unemployment, which in some countries is as high as more than half of those under 25. These “social partners” recognized the impact that demographic change was having both on employers and workers, and the agreement represented a commitment to work together to tailor European labor markets to aging societies.

What common interests would lead employers and unions to look for ways to support older workers who want to keep working?   First, both sides want older workers to be in jobs that they value and that won’t lead to early retirement because of poor health. Getting older workers into sustainable work is a challenge; many people in their sixties are stuck in work that they could do easily in their forties but that is now too physically demanding or stressful. Making late-career job transitions easier is a goal that both employers and unions want. Second, promoting intergenerational knowledge sharing can benefit younger and older workers, because the former gain skills that enhance their employability and the latter can share their knowledge and experience while reflecting on the contributions they have made throughout their careers. Knowledge sharing also benefits the employer, because it keeps in-house and tacit knowledge within the business even after the older worker retires. Third, and finally, both employers and workers can benefit from late-career work flexibility. As employees wind down toward retirement, they may want to reduce their workloads and pass on some work to younger colleagues. Phased retirement programs in British companies such as BAE Systems and British Telecom have been successful, because they help everyone manage career transitions better, including the eventual transition into retirement.

What Europe’s experience suggests for the United States

Employers and unions see improving how multigenerational workplaces are managed as a win-win, so it makes sense why they agreed to try to solve that together. An American audience might think that the framework agreement is a product of post-World War II industrial relations and wouldn’t work well in economies like that of the United States, where the relationship between employers and unions could be better described as one of conflict rather than collaboration. It is true that where social partnership is strongest, like Germany or Sweden, collective agreements have been reached on managing age within workplaces across such industrial sectors as manufacturing, chemicals, and steel. However, even in European countries where social partnership is less robust, there are interesting examples of employers and unions working together. In the United Kingdom, for example, National Health Service employers and staff have been working jointly to ensure that health service professionals can sustain work as pension ages rise. In Italy, bilateral demographic funds (managed jointly by managers and union reps) are being set up to fund programs to promote health-sustaining work and tackle workplace ageism. Most significantly, social partners in these two countries as well as Spain and Poland are working together regionally to find solutions for problems that have stumped traditional industrial relation structures, such as joblessness of elders who’d rather keep working and improving intergenerational learning.

Improving how aging in the workplace is addressed is a great way for labor and management to work together to find innovative solutions. Not only are there many shared goals, but neither side has all of the solutions. The common objective—ensuing that both younger and older workers have access to good work in which they can be productive—can best be achieved if everyone is at the table.

Matt Flynn is a professor at University of Hull and is leading a European Commission project, “Active Ageing through Social Partnership and Industrial Relations Expertise,” with colleagues from the University of Granada (Spain), the University of Lodz (Poland), ADAPT (Italy), and Newcastle University (UK).

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BUFFERS OR BOOSTERS? Human resource management practices shape the way older workers see themselves in the workplace

Posted Thursday, February 8th, 2018| Comments Off on BUFFERS OR BOOSTERS? Human resource management practices shape the way older workers see themselves in the workplace rule


Eduardo Oliveira
Invited Lecturer at the Faculty of Education and Psychology, Universidade Católica Portuguesa and at the School of Economics, University of Porto.
Email: eaoliveira@porto.ucp.pteaoliveira@fep.up.pt

Research findings show that not all human resource management (HRM) practices facilitate workplace success among older workers.* For instance, age‑awareness HRM practices such as training for older workers have the potential to cue these workers’ age as a stigmatizable characteristic.

HRM practices that segment the workforce on the basis of age groups may bring about perceptions of special treatment, inequality, and even resistance to those practices. Thus, instead of fostering inclusion, these practices increase ageism in at least two ways. On the one hand, they are likely to foster older workers’ endorsement of negative stereotypes about their own age group. On the other, they reinforce negative age stereotypes held by outgroup members, who may interpret special treatment practices as an organizational recognition of older workers’ ineffectiveness.

Both quantitative and qualitative studies in the manufacturing sector provide evidence of this backlash against older workers from specific HRM practices. These studies show that age‑awareness HRM practices effects can rebound, increasing the salience of negative stereotypes and older workers’ vulnerability to them. These practices can reinforce the stigma of incompetence borne by affirmative action recipients generally rather than contributing to workplace equality and inclusion.

On the contrary, older workers perceive HRM practices that value their experience (e.g., mentoring, reverse mentoring, and job sharing) as desirable, because they build self-confidence, psychological safety, and feelings of reciprocity toward the organization. These practices make older workers feel useful and respected, paving the way for older workers to cultivate a positive social identity, thereby counteracting group stigma.

More important, research findings have provided several insights on how to reduce older workers’ vulnerability to ageism in the workplace. First, in order to be effective, HRM practices should emphasize positive social identities that older workers share with their colleagues, rather than giving older workers special treatment that may, in the end, reinforce stigma. Second, given that specific HRM practices for older workers seem to damage this age group’s self-image, I suggest that HRM efforts should reframe stereotypical beliefs. One way to do this is through mentoring and reverse mentoring opportunities that allow direct transfer of knowledge and the creation of crosscutting ties between older and younger workers. Opportunities such as these build skills and open lines of communication among age groups, which in turn may contribute to the reframing of stereotypes. Last, irrespective of their nature, workplace interventions cannot be developed without taking into account all age groups. Organizations should develop HRM efforts based on equal treatment of all age groups, because some older workers interpret age‑awareness practices as discriminatory and resist them. In so doing, organizations will be in the best place to nurture identity safety for all employees and, hence, to include them, integrate them, and develop their full potential.

*Hennekam, S., & Herrbach, O. (2015). The influence of age-awareness versus general HRM practices on the retirement decision of older workers. Personnel Review, 44(1), 3-21. doi:10.1108/PR-01-2014-0031

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Recession and employment: How will older workers fare during the next recession?

Posted Friday, December 8th, 2017| Comments Off on Recession and employment: How will older workers fare during the next recession? rule


Hila Axelrad, PhD
Postdoctoral fellow
Center on Aging & Work, Boston College
Phone: 617-459-4116
Email: hilaax@tauex.tau.ac.il

Economic recessions significantly affect people’s employment status: The growth in labor force participation slows, unemployment rates increase, and unemployed workers are more likely to drop out of the labor market. Economic recessions also have negative effects on job quality and job transition patterns. Because nearly 24% of workers in the United States will be over the age of 55 years by 2020, it is important to examine the extent to which these outcomes will be better or worse for older workers.  Are older workers more or less likely to maintain their jobs during recessions? And even if they are able to hold onto their jobs, do their working conditions improve or worsen?

In a recent study published in the European Journal of Ageing, my coauthors and I investigated these questions. We used data from SHARE, a nationally representative survey on health, employment, and social conditions of Europeans ages 50 years and up. The data focused on almost 5,000 50- to 70-year-olds from 13 countries who had enrolled in the study at least twice: before and after the 2008–2009 recession. They were in the labor market (employed, self-employed, or unemployed) when they first participated and we tracked their employment status (employed/unemployed/retired) as well as job quality indicators: hours worked per week, employment security, satisfaction with salary, prospects for job advancement, and job satisfaction. Our aim was to examine the extent to which economic changes related to the 2008–2009 recession were associated with employment status and job quality indicators among older workers.

We found that country-wide economic recessions were associated with negative employment outcomes for older workers.  For example, decreases in gross domestic product were associated with an increase in the likelihood of being unemployed and a decrease in the likelihood of being retired. Moreover, an increasing country-level unemployment rate had a significant effect on job quality such that there appeared to be fewer prospects for job advancement and less job security. In somewhat of a surprise, higher unemployment rates were associated with greater job satisfaction.

Although previous studies have shown that people who were able to retain their jobs in the midst of layoffs—e.g., “dismissal survivors”—experienced less job and life satisfaction, using these country-level unemployment rates, we found that these survivors actually experienced greater job satisfaction, probably because they were able to hold onto their jobs when others were fired or laid off.

We also found that sociodemographic and health-related characteristics influenced older workers’ employment conditions following the recession: Compared to adults ages 50–55, respondents ages 55–60 were more likely to be employed or unemployed (i.e., not retired); however, respondents ages 65–70 were less likely to be employed or unemployed, and more likely to be retired. Good health was associated with a better chance of being employed.

We found that civil servants had a greater likelihood of being employed and a lower likelihood of being unemployed or retired. They also had better prospects for job advancement and better job security.

Longer tenure was associated with a higher likelihood of being employed and a lower likelihood of being unemployed or retired. It was also associated with an increased number of hours worked per week, greater job security, and more satisfaction with salary.

Additionally, we found that being in the higher income quintile was associated with more hours worked per week, better prospects for job advancement, better job security, and greater job satisfaction and salary satisfaction.

These findings are important, because country-level indicators aren’t easily influenced, but sociodemographic factors related to employment or health can be changed by policy measures, and through them limit negative employment and job quality outcomes following a recession.

For example, since our results reveal that better health conditions at older ages and being a civil servant can diminish negative employment consequences, healthcare to maintain older workers’ employability or encouraging older workers to work in the public sector may minimize the worst blows of a recession: unemployment, inadequate salary, low job satisfaction, low job security, and poor prospects for job advancement.

Our findings also suggest that policy measures need to take into account these workers’ unique needs and allocate resources during recessions to help moderate or mitigate potential negative employment consequences among those older workers who are more vulnerable and exposed to a recession’s impact on the labor market.

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Protected or Deflected? Impact of Employment Protection Legislation on Forced Career Exit in Europe

Posted Wednesday, December 6th, 2017| Comments Off on Protected or Deflected? Impact of Employment Protection Legislation on Forced Career Exit in Europe rule
Martin Hyde, PhD photo Martin Hyde, PhD
Center for Innovative Ageing, Swansea University
Twitter: @HydeM1976
Email: Martin.hyde@swansea.ac.uk
Ellen Dingemans, PhD Ellen Dingemans, PhD
Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute
Email: Dingemans@nidi.nl

Research on retirement is burgeoning. Yet, despite concerted efforts by governments throughout the world to encourage people to remain in work up to and beyond pension age, there are still concerns that many older workers are being forced leave their jobs. We were keen to investigate this and look at the potential ways in which measures to increase labor market participation might create new forms of forced expulsion from the labor market. Previous research has demonstrated that social security and pension systems provide incentives for people to retire early. However, pension systems are only one part of the policy mix that can impact labor force participation in later life. Our study looked at the role that employment protection legislation (EPL) plays.

Both the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Commission have identified EPL as an important determinant of the employment situation of older workers. To look at EPL’s impact on forced exit from work, we needed a sample of countries with different levels of EPL. It is harder and costlier to fire workers in countries with high levels of EPL than it is in countries with low levels of EPL. For our analyses, we used data on 13 countries from the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). The EPL measure was taken from the OECD.

Our main focus was on whether the strictness of EPL affected whether workers who were forced out of work were forced out via retirement or nonretirement routes, such as unemployment. In line with our expectations, we found that there was substantial variation in the rate of forced exit from work, ranging from about a fifth of older workers in Sweden to about a half of older workers in Spain and Estonia (see Figure 1). When we looked at the relationship between EPL and the route of forced exit, we found that higher levels of EPL were associated with a greater likelihood of being forced out of work via retirement rather than nonretirement routes. Our interpretation of these findings is that laying off older workers prior to retirement is much more expensive where EPL is strict, because of higher severance payouts. In this situation, retirement then becomes an attractive alternative, both because it is cheaper for the employer and because it is a more legitimized route of exit. These findings suggest that in countries with stricter EPL, policymakers need to ensure that there is also sufficiently strong legislation to prevent employers from forcing older workers out through retirement.

Link to the original article: https://academic.oup.com/workar/article/3/3/231/3863076

Figure 1. Proportion of older adults who were forced to leave their jobs, by country


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Making the Transition from Employer Health Insurance to Medicare

Posted Tuesday, October 4th, 2016| Comments Off on Making the Transition from Employer Health Insurance to Medicare rule


Philip Moeller
Columnist: Money, PBS Making Sen$e
AuthorGet What’s Yours: Maxing Out Your Social Security (2015); Get What’s Yours for Medicare: Maximize Your Coverage, Minimize Your Costs (2016)
Speakeron retirement and successful aging
Research FellowCenter on Aging & Work, Boston College

It has become impossible to have a successful later life in the United States without finding a way to control—or at least manage—out-of-pocket healthcare costs. After several years of modest healthcare inflation, owing principally to provisions of the Affordable Care Act, healthcare prices are once again projected to rise by substantially more than either prices in general or the overall economy.

As more people continue working into their late 60s and 70s, they will need to be especially careful to make informed health insurance choices.

Two retirement programs on separate tracks

Signing up for Medicare should be a snap, right? You turn 65, you retire from your job, and you sign up for Parts A and B of Medicare with the Social Security Administration (SSA). You then decide if you want other coverage. Beginning and end of story. For the most part, this is how things used to work.

The linkage between Medicare and Social Security is hardly accidental. The Social Security Administration is legally responsible for a lot of Medicare work, including alerting people when they’re eligible, signing them up, sending out their Medicare cards, and withholding Medicare premiums from monthly Social Security payments.

Until 2008, 65 was the full retirement age for Social Security as well as the primary enrollment age for Medicare, so signing up for the two programs at the same time was common. Well, no más.

Today, signing up for Medicare can cause a major brain freeze. Based on changes to Social Security rules included in the program’s major 1983 reforms, full retirement age—the age when benefits are not reduced by early claiming reductions or hit with earnings test reductions—has been steadily rising.

It moved in two-month increments, from 65 in 2002, for people born in 1937 or earlier, to 66 in 2009, for those born from 1943 to 1954. It will stay there until 2020, and then begin moving again in two-month stages, for people born from 1955 to 1959, settling at 67 by 2027, for anyone born in 1960 or later.

This shift is not only a big deal for Social Security but also a big deal for Medicare, because it further reduces the linkage between the two programs in terms of claiming dates. This bond also has been weakened, if not blown up, by the historic rise in the percentages of people who keep working well past their 65th birthdays.

Roughly a third of people ages 65 to 69 are still in the labor force, and about 20 percent of those ages 70 to 74 are also still working. For sure, retirement is not what it used to be.

For good measure, the Great Recession erased trillions in retirement assets. And, while these losses have been recovered for the economy as a whole, they certainly haven’t been recovered by many of the people who took the hits. Some were forced to defer retirement; others took their Social Security benefits early.

Easy to misstep; high price if you do

The big picture here is that we no longer have two programs where people elect benefits at the same time. We have two programs with an enormous range of claiming patterns. This is a big deal for Medicare, because it means you can’t simply assume you will need Medicare as soon as you turn 65.

Some people will and others won’t. But the circumstances under which we do or don’t need Medicare at age 65 are often unclear. And neither Medicare nor Social Security has done a particularly good job of explaining what all of this means to the mere mortals who have to figure out when and how to claim their Medicare benefits.

Adding injury to insult, if you will, the government has also created a set of potentially harsh financial penalties for people who get this decision wrong and miss one of Medicare’s many enrollment deadlines.

Those penalties are one more reason so many people say they will never be able to afford to retire!

Learn More:

Research fellow Philip Moeller is the author of the newly released book, “Get What’s Yours for Medicare: Maximize Your Coverage, Minimize Your Costs.”

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Financial Resources: A Critical Workplace Support for Caregivers of Older Adults

Posted Monday, October 3rd, 2016| Comments Off on Financial Resources: A Critical Workplace Support for Caregivers of Older Adults rule

Judi Casey

WorkLife Consultant
Founding Director of the Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN)
Email: judiccasey@gmail.com

The 2015 Northwestern Mutual C.A.R.E. (Costs, Accountabilities, Realities, Expectations) study found that emotional costs of caregiving are substantial, with experienced caregivers reporting feelings of tiredness (45%), sadness (31%), and anxiety (32%) “often” or “all the time.” Almost 60% say that “caring for two adults between 85 and 90 would be more difficult than managing two children, ages 3 and 5.” Such stress can take a toll on workplace performance (focus, engagement, and productivity), causing some employees to resign.

The financial costs of caring for an older person are sizable, as well, and deserve attention. The C.A.R.E study uncovered how two-thirds of Americans say that responsibility for caregiving expenses would have a negative impact on their finances; 38% said they had not set aside funds to cover these costs.

Close to 40% of Americans are actively taking care of “someone aging, ill or with special needs (other than a child) or have been a caregiver in the past.” Of this group, 60% have jobs, and three out of five manage their workplace and caregiving responsibilities by reducing their hours or taking a leave of absence.

Employers are in a unique position to help. Financial resources offered at the workplace, in addition to improving employee well-being and enhancing retention, offer the promise of reducing financial stress for working caregivers. Here are some examples:

  1. Case management services to assess, coordinate, and implement a care plan that provides a safe environment and quality of life for the person needing care.
  2. Financial planners who provide expertise to manage financial concerns and prepare for the older adult’s financial future.
  3. Allowances, vouchers, or subsidies for caregiving services that cover part or all of the cost of services. (Some organizations (23%) offer wage compensation, such as direct hire of service providers for respite, home health, nursing, or backup elder care.)
  4. Flexible spending accounts (FSAs) and dependent care flexible spending accounts (DCAPs) that allow pre-tax income to be used for the care of an aging parent or other eligible family members (FSAs and DCAPs not only benefit employees but also provide tax advantages to employers). These are among the most common types of employer support, with 67% of companies providing them.
  5. Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) and Worklife programs offer access to knowledgeable professionals who can provide support and expertise around elder caregiving issues and referrals to community sources of support.
  6. Reimbursement for care expenses while employees travel (offered by 17% of organizations).

These options can work in conjunction with other types of employer-provided assistance, such as workplace seminars and Employee Resource Groups.

Whatever the strategy, the objective is to enhance the purchasing power of employees caring for an older adult and reduce their financial burden. Employers who pay attention to the financial concerns of employees who are family caregivers can make a tremendous difference in these workers’ lives and increase workplace engagement, productivity, and retention.

For employers
Learn more about Employer Solutions for Family Caregivers



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It’s Baaaack: The Flawed Argument that Older Workers Should Step Aside

Posted Friday, September 9th, 2016| Comments Off on It’s Baaaack: The Flawed Argument that Older Workers Should Step Aside rule
Kevin E. Cahill, PhD
Research Economist
Center on Aging & Work at Boston College
Phone: 617.552.9195
Email: cahillkc@bc.edu

Here we go again. This time it’s not coming from the mainstream media but from a research study that has a high risk of being misinterpreted. Regardless of the source, the argument that older workers should step aside is as flawed as ever.

The recent study is by the Centre for Economic Policy Research and it is titled, “A Clash of Generations? Increase in Retirement Age and Labor Demand for Youth.” The study concludes that “firms [in Italy] that were more exposed to the increase in employment duration of senior workers significantly reduced youth hirings.” The authors also state that, “Our results clearly indicate that before and after the reform [that increased the retirement age], firms that were more exposed to the increase in employment duration of senior workers significantly reduced youth hirings.”

Spoiler alert: No clash of generations is warranted here.

The findings from the study, while interesting, say little or nothing about the equilibrium impact of delayed retirements on overall youth employment. Indeed, the authors of the study, despite their choice of title, agree that “the retirement age should be as flexible as possible.”

The reason for the apparent discrepancy between the study’s title and the policy recommendation has to do mostly with the way in which the increase in Italy’s retirement age was implemented in the face of labor market rigidities. More importantly, however, research conducted on a single firm or group of firms over a short time horizon is too narrowly focused to draw conclusions about broader economic impacts. For sure, it is true that some younger workers might miss out if their employer postpones the promotion or hiring of a younger worker in favor of retaining an older one. This “boxed-economy” or “lump of labor” view of the world certainly makes sense on the surface as it is intuitive that a one-to-one relationship exists between new retirees and new jobs for younger workers.

The “boxed-economy” logic breaks down, though, when one considers how economies evolve over time. Firms enter and exit and jobs are constantly created and destroyed. Just as a tree sheds its leaves, these changes can be very healthy for an economy as outmoded forms of production make way for new and improved ones. Our economy grows stronger and healthier over time as a result.

It’s been five years since I made this point in a Center on Aging & Work at Boston College AGEnda blog and I would now like to propose two additional ways to address this flawed argument. The first is very straightforward: competition is not good for competitors but it is good for consumers. More older workers make the labor market more competitive; that’s bad for some younger workers, but good for employers and our economy. A more competitive labor market enables the production of more goods and services for a given level of resources. This improved efficiency frees up resources to be used in different ways that can expand our economy and provide new opportunities for everyone, including younger workers.

Second, new business models can disrupt the status quo but the result can be the proliferation of more efficient forms of production. Is it a bad thing if a store goes out of business due to competitive forces? The answer is “Yes,” I suppose, if you’re the worker getting laid off, at least in the short term. The answer is “No” for most everyone else if the store went out of business because it relied on an outdated business model and sold something few people were willing to buy at the store’s sale price. Just think of what a drag on our economy it would have been if Blockbuster video stores were forced to remain open ten years ago. Competitive forces largely drove them out because a more efficient means of production (e.g., on-line streaming) became available. We’re all better off as a result. Similarly, outdated business models and policies that forced older workers out the door have been replaced by ones in which older workers are valued and retained. That’s a good thing, even if some younger workers would have benefited from the outdated model of forcing out older workers.

Another reason this new business model is actually very good news for younger workers is that we truly want older Americans to stay working later in life. Just think of what would happen if they didn’t. Who is going to make up for any financial shortfall if a large portion of older Americans are financially vulnerable at older ages? The answer is younger workers, at least in part. This risk is very real, too, as older Americans are more exposed to market forces than were prior generations as Joseph F. Quinn and I noted in a recent article. Earnings can help solidify older Americans’ financial outlook, which benefits everyone.

For those remaining skeptics, history provides a valuable lesson. Think about what happened after WWII when women entered the labor force in droves. Did that crowd out opportunities for men? For some, yes, in the short term, but overall the result was a booming economy that benefited us all.

So there is no clash of generations. We simply need to look beyond the interim frictional issues associated with extending working lives. Once and for all let’s put to bed the flawed argument that continued work later in life for older workers implies fewer job opportunities for younger ones.

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Eldercare Is Everyone’s Issue

Posted Monday, August 8th, 2016| Comments Off on Eldercare Is Everyone’s Issue rule

Judi Casey

WorkLife Consultant
Founding Director of the Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN)
Email: judiccasey@gmail.com

In the past 12 months, close to 40 million Americans—one in six—provided unpaid care to an adult family member or friend. In addition, approximately 34 million Americans were caring for someone age 50 or older. Who are these caregivers and what do we know about them?

One might want to generalize about the characteristics of these 40 million caregivers; however, according to Caregiving in the U.S. 2015, a report of the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP, the profile of the typical caregiver is:

  • 49-year-old female
  • Employed full-time (nearly 35 hours per week, on average)
  • Taking care of a female relative who is age 69 or older and has a long-term physical condition
  • Providing care for four years on average
  • Spending almost 25 hours each week on caregiving tasks and obligations
  • Totally responsible for all caregiving commitments without support from other family members or professionals (e.g., aides, respite care, day treatment)
  • Reporting an average household income of $54,700
  • Married or living with a partner
  • In very good or good health
  • A high-school graduate with some college involvement but without an undergraduate degree

Since we know that 60% of caregivers are women, it follows that 40% of caregivers are men.  What do we know about the typical male caregiver?  His profile looks like this:

  • 48 years old
  • Employed full-time (nearly 38 hours per week, on average)
  • Taking care of a 69-year-old female relative who has a long-term physical condition
  • Providing care for 3.9 years on average
  • Spending 23 hours each week on caregiving tasks and obligations
  • Receiving help from unpaid but not from paid caregivers
  • Reporting an average household income of $58,300
  • Married or living with a partner
  • In very good or good health
  • A high-school graduate with some college involvement but without an undergraduate degree

These profiles are quite similar. The main differences are that male caregivers tend to have unpaid help from others, while female caregivers go it alone. Female caregivers report two additional hours of caregiving responsibilities each week. Male caregivers earn more money, but also spend three additional hours each week at their jobs.

But not all caregivers are in their late forties. Millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 represent nearly a quarter of all caregivers, with equal numbers of millennial men and women in the caregiving role. The profile of the typical millennial caregiver is:

  • 27 years old
  • Employed full-time, for an average of 35 hours per work
  • Just as likely to be providing care now as to have provided care in the previous year (50% in each category)
  • Taking care of female relative—often a parent or grandparent—not quite 60 years old who has a physical condition
  • More likely than those in other caregiver groups to be taking care of a person with mental health issues
  • Providing care for an average of 2.8 years
  • Reporting an average household income of $42,200
  • Just as likely to be married or living with a partner as not (half are and half aren’t)
  • In excellent or very good health
  • A high-school graduate with some college involvement but without an undergraduate degree

A 2015 survey from Ceridian LifeWorksDouble Duty: The Caregiving Crisis in the Workplacefound that millennial caregivers are different from other caregivers, in that:

  • 64% are living with at least one care recipient
  • 37% are calling in sick or pretending to be sick in order to leave work so they can provide care

Another group of caregivers to keep in mind is the “sandwich generation”: those who are responsible both for their own children and for older adults. According to the Pew Research Center (2013), 71% of sandwich generation caregivers are ages 40 to 59; 19% are younger than 40 and 10% are 60 or older. Men and women are equally represented in the sandwich generation. The Pew Research survey also found that:

  • Almost half of 40- and 50-year-old adults have a parent age 65 or older, as well as responsibility for a young child, or financial responsibility for an older child (age 18 or older)
  • Approximately 15% of the sandwich generation provide financial resources both for their children and an aging parent

Interestingly, part of the pressure on sandwich generation caregivers comes from needing to support their adult children. For example, 73% of caregivers in their 40s and 50s have given some financial resources to a child (age 18 or older), in comparison with 32% who have helped a parent who is age 65 or older.

Although one would anticipate that the pressures of these dual responsibilities are formidable for the sandwich generation, the Pew Research survey found that sandwich generation adults are just as satisfied with their lives as other adults are, with 28% reporting that they are “very happy,” and 51% indicating “pretty happy.”

So what’s the bottom line? It seems clear that caregivers are a diverse group and are likely to become even more so in the future. As the population ages and life expectancy rises, the need for caregivers will increase. Caregivers are men and women, all ages, all ethnicities, employed or not, and with or without children. We need to design policies and work environments that support these family caregivers, who are more and more likely to be distributed across the whole workforce. Caregiving is everyone’s issue!

For employers
Learn more about Employer Solutions for Family Caregivers


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Effective Recruitment Strategies for Older Workers

Posted Wednesday, June 29th, 2016| Comment (1) rule

Judi Casey

WorkLife Consultant
Founding Director of the Work and Family Researchers Network (WFRN)
Email: judiccasey@gmail.com

When it comes to workforce planning, it’s all about the numbers – of people, that is.  Demographic data suggest impending labor shortages and increasingly tight labor markets, due to projections of weak growth in the working age population over the next 15 years. Continued immigration will help to fill some of the gaps, however, an increasing number of older workers are healthy and motivated to continue working. They could fill some of these deficits in the talent pool, and might want to do so for several reasons: to supplement their current income or retirement funds, obtain health insurance benefits, pursue an encore career, or just to remain active in the world of work.

Yet, some strong biases exist against hiring older workers. Nearly 60% of 1,500 U.S. workers ages 45 to 74 surveyed by AARP in 2008 reported that they sensed or observed negative perceptions of their status as older workers either while at work or during recruitment. In Managing the Older Worker: How to Prepare for the New Organizational Order, the authors found that age bias trumps both gender and race bias; for example, a majority of Internet technology recruiters were not willing to hire someone over 40.

In contrast with these findings of bias, the Aging Workforce Research Initiative, a survey conducted in 2014 by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and the SHRM Foundation, found that human resources (HR) professionals have a very positive opinion of older workers. Approximately 70% of this survey’s respondents indicated that older workers are more professional and have a stronger work ethic than their younger counterparts do.  More than 75% viewed the work experience of older employees positively.

Other studies found the perception that older workers add value to organizations, by bringing to the job considerable knowledge, varied skill sets, reliability, and flexibility around scheduling.

What, then, is the best way to recruit older workers for your organization? Here are some suggestions:

  • Employ nontraditional outreach strategies such as partnerships with national and community organizations connected with older adults, such as senior associations and senior-related websites.
  • Use personal and professional connections to solicit employee referrals, target your retired workers for rehire, and reach out to volunteer organizations or retiree associations.
  • Present your organization as “age-inclusive,” using language and imagery that reflects all age groups in your recruiting materials.
  • Develop benefits packages that respond to the unique needs of older workers: eldercare supports, financial planning resources, and flexible work options (telework, reduced hours, nontraditional schedules, and short-term or seasonal assignments).
  • Provide accommodations for the preferences and physical limitations of older workers.
  • Implement ongoing training and shadowing programs as well as opportunities for two-way mentoring.
  • Design training and diversity awareness programs for hiring managers, both to keep them up-to-date on the business case for hiring older workers and to send a message that their recruitment efforts need to consider all potential candidates.
  • Explore how recruitment strategies that target older workers could be used to engage other employee populations. Workers of all ages desire meaningful work and opportunities to learn and develop, and they want to be treated fairly and with respect.
  • Communicate how hiring older workers has enhanced and benefited your organization to counter some of the stereotypes associated with hiring them.

Employers are wise to consider that the best person for the job with the right fit for their organizations might be an older worker.

For employers
Benchmark yourself against similar employers in recruitment strategies, as well as other policies, and get customized tips: Workforce Benchmark Tool

Learn more
About Recruitment, Retension, Tenure, and Turnover: Facts Database


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