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Handouts for "The Plight of Older Workers" Seminar for BCCDA

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Bccda handouts

  1. 1. The Plight of Older Workers Handout for BCCDA Conference, March 9, 2013Myths and Realities About Older WorkersSome of the social, economic, safety and medical myths about older workers are based on aperception that older workers are frail, unreliable and incapable of working effectively and safely. It istime to set aside these stereotypes and negative attitudes. The following chart presents and respondsto some of these myths Myths and Realities About Older WorkersMyth RealityOlder workers are more likely to have work- Not True. In fact, older workers suffer fewer job-related injuries. related injuries.Older people are all alike. Differences within age groups are often greater than those between age groups.Older adults are unable or unwilling to learn new Age does not determine curiosity or thethings or skills. willingness to learn. Older workers may sometimes take slightly longer to learn certain tasks and may respond better to training methods more suited to their needs.Older adults avoid new approaches or new Many people, regardless of age, enjoy newtechnologies. technology. Older workers are likely to respond well to innovation if it: • relates to what they already know • allows for self-paced learning • provides opportunities for practice and support.Older workers have failing memories. Long-term memory continues to increase with age.It is not worthwhile investing in training older Older workers tend to be loyal and less likely toworkers because they are likely to leave or are change jobs frequently. This is particularly the“just coasting to retirement.” case if older workers know their efforts are appreciated and they are not faced with a mandatory retirement age. Mature workers are part of a growing and diverse group, ranging in age from their 50s to their 70s. The Government of Alberta forecasts that 78% of workers aged 55-64 and 20% of those over 65 will be participating in the labour market by 2019. 1 In a knowledge economy, the payback period on investment in training is becoming shorter for all workers. That means that spending on training older workers is very likely to be recovered before these workers retire. 1 Fraser Valley Training Group info@idothat.ca 604-649-1181
  2. 2. The Plight of Older Workers Handout for BCCDA Conference, March 9, 2013 Myths and Realities About Older WorkersMyth RealityOlder workers are less productive. Productivity is individual and varies more within an age group than between age groups. No significant impact on productivity due to aging is likely until workers are well into their 70s. Older workers may be less productive doing heavy physical work. However, most jobs do not require maximum physical exertion. Older workers generally make up for any decline in physical or mental ability through experience and forethought. If strength and agility are a factor, older workers can usually find ways to compensate by “working smarter.” Older workers are often well trained and have a track record of responsibility and dedication.Older workers relate poorly to customers. Older workers can often be more effective than younger workers when experience or people skills are needed, as when dealing with customers or building a client base.Older workers are inflexible. Older workers may be more cautious, a trait that can improve accuracy and safety.Older adults have impaired mental or intellectual Studies show intellectual abilities stay intact intocapacity. the 70s and beyond. Short-term memory may start declining well before age 45, but measurable, in-depth knowledge continues to increase as we age. Age tends to enhance the ability to perform activities depending on judgment, decision- making and general knowledge.Most older adults have poor health. Three-quarters of Canadians aged 65 to 74 and two-thirds of those over 75 rate their health as good or very good. These figures are even higher for workers aged 45 to 64.Older workers are more likely to suffer from Most studies show older workers have lowerillness and are more often absent or late for work absenteeism and tend to be more punctual thanthan younger workers. younger workers. Usually, older workers with health conditions requiring extensive sick leave have left the workforce on their own accord. Any significant increase in hospital stays or sick leave are not likely to show up until people are over 80.Older workers have less education. While this may have been true at one time, it is less a factor now when many well-educated baby boomers fill the ranks of older workers 2 Fraser Valley Training Group info@idothat.ca 604-649-1181
  3. 3. The Plight of Older Workers Handout for BCCDA Conference, March 9, 2013Future WorkSome Facts About Older WorkersOlder workers will be increasing in number and many will stay on the job for an extended period of time. AsAmerican and most of the developed world’s businesses face increasing numbers of employees over age 55,they have two choices: to ignore the demographic challenge looming on the horizon, or prepare for itcreatively. Here are some facts backed up by wide research on who these workers are.Workers age 55 years and older grew 8 percent in the 15 years from 1975-1990 and 44 percent in the 15 years from1990 to 2005. There are currently more than 56 million people aged 55 or older, and 32 million are 65 and older. By2005, the number of people 55 and older expanded to 66 million.Thirteen percent of U.S. workers today are 55 or older; by 2015 that number will increase to 20 percent butmost companies haven’t caught on. In 2020 there will be more than 115 million Americans 50 years old andover. By 2030 nearly one-third of the total U.S. population will be 55 or older, raising the U.S. median agefrom the current 33 years to nearly 42.Today’s 50+ adults account for more than $2 trillion in income, 80% of personal wealth in financial institutions,and 50% of all discretionary income: $13,286 per household.They own over 70% of the financial assets in America, control nearly $9 trillion in net worth of U.S.households –– 70% of the total, and represent 40 million credit card users, owning almost 50% of the credit cardsin the U.S.Older Workers: Increasing in Number butSeldom ValuedFrom now until 2030 the 19 - 55 age group in the U.S. will increase by just one percent. The ratio of younger toolder workers is now five to one; by 2030, it will drop to two to one. But fewer than half of all business surveyedby SHRM and AARP provide training to upgrade older workers’ skills. According to the U.S. Bureau ofLabor Statistics, workers 55 and older received only 23 hours of total training, while workers 45 to 54 receivedtwo and one-half times as much, or 57-plus hours.Some Myths and Realities about Older WorkersA number of myths, lumped together under the heading of "ageism," persist in companies about how olderworkers approach their jobsMYTH: Older adults are not interested in workingFACT: Many want to advance and find challenges in their work. Many remain longer than their younger counterpartsMYTH: They are slow, unproductive workersFACT: Older workers tend to have fewer incidences of absenteeism and tardiness than their younger counterparts.MYTH: Older workers don’t want to work because of their retirement benefits.FACT: Many older workers are interested in working; there are powerful motivations to support this. Many older workersare not yet eligible for social security benefits, (CPP or OAS in Canada) or find that working offsets any loss in benefits.MYTH: Older workers are difficult to work with. They are inflexible and resistant to change.FACT: Because of their life experience, many have enhanced interpersonal skills and abilities.MYTH: They are often absent from work because of illness and are more accident-prone. The older workers have poorer healththan younger workers, decreased physical and mental capacity and less stamina.FACT: Research shows that age is a poor predictor of physical and mental abilities but productivity generally tends to improve withage. Older workers have fewer on-the-job accidents than their younger counterparts. 3 Fraser Valley Training Group info@idothat.ca 604-649-1181
  4. 4. The Plight of Older Workers Handout for BCCDA Conference, March 9, 2013 Some Facts About Older Workers The FutureWork Institute Facts About Older WorkersOlder workers are busy, healthy and happy. The Small Business Survival Center report concluded that workers olderthan age 55 have better attendance records, averaging only 3.1 sick days a year, and they account for only 9.7percent of workplace injuries. Older workers are not uncomfortable about being supervised by younger employees _ Older workers are much lesslikely to file workers’ compensation claimsAs a group, they spend more than young adults on virtually all products and services The most striking reason why older Americans return to work or remain longer on the job has been theshift from goods-to-service-producing industries in which work is typically less physically demandingWork ethic, loyalty and experience are among the traits older workers possess as demonstrated inemployer surveys. More than 60% of companies with a policy on rehiring retirees will bring them back as independentcontractors or consultants. About the same number will bring them back as part-time or temporary workers.Insurance costs are not necessarily higher when older workers are employed in part because they have fewerdependents.The training investment by employers is quickly repaid (they stay on the job longer and make fewer mistakesWhat Motivates Older Workers?Aspects of work that are important to older employees include: Respect and support, fair compensation Involvement and use of expertise Flexible scheduling Working with and helping others (mentoring) Working on and completing important tasksAspects of work that cause disengagement include: Lack of respect from management Valuing education over experience Lack of recognition of their work.Copies of a compilation of Myths About Older Workers that runs to 11 pages can beobtained from Fraser Valley Training Group for free by emailing Richard@idothat.ca orinfo@idothat.ca or varelse1@gmail.com.The entire PowerPoint Presentation “The Plight of Older Workers” can be obtained thesame way or can be downloaded from Slide Share or LinkedIn for free.http://ca.linkedin.com/pub/richard-lindfield/1a/757/38a/There is also a Power Point Presentation on Ageism that is available by email. 4 Fraser Valley Training Group info@idothat.ca 604-649-1181
  5. 5. The Plight of Older Workers Handout for BCCDA Conference, March 9, 2013 Interview Tips for Older WorkersMost employers don’t intentionally discriminate against olderworkers, but there are a few things that employers are looking atwhen they interview a mature worker for a position; even if theycannot ask the question outright. Addressing these concerns and/orintegrating answers to these issues in your interview will assist youto be considered more equally for the position. 1) Your ability to manage change – stress your flexibility in all aspects and that you are not that stereotypical senior with rigid views on everything 2) Over-qualification – stress where you are now in your life and why you are looking for “employment enjoyment” rather than a multitude of responsibility 3) Don’t be a technological dinosaur – speak to how you use technology and that you know what social media is and what it can be used for, even if you choose not to use it 4) Integrate how you have a balanced lifestyle and what you do in your spare time to show physical fitness, an employer is worried that you can’t keep up or that you will miss work 5) Speak to how you would enjoy working with those that are both younger and older than you, that you can still learn something from everyone and that you enjoy learning still. 6) Learn how to market your skills and be confident when describing those skills. Mature women especially find this difficult to do, as they have been brought up to think of it as boasting. 5 Fraser Valley Training Group info@idothat.ca 604-649-1181
  6. 6. The Plight of Older Workers Handout for BCCDA Conference, March 9, 2013 SOURCES1Government of Alberta (2010). Engaging the Mature Worker: An Action Plan for Alberta.Retrieved on July 21, 2011Institute of Electrical and Electronics EngineersOvercoming Myths About Older Workers Flash Cards is a set of 40 cards designed as a funway to help dispel common myths about older workers. The cards were developed by CarleenMacKay, Workforce Policy Advisor to AARP/California and co-founder of Ageless inAmerica (where you can purchase a card deck). http://www.AgelessInAmerica.com.(ref: Overcoming Myths About Older Workers Flash Cards athttp://www.AgelessInAmerica.com )The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)Business Week,Health CanadaStatistics CanadaCanadian Centre for Occupation Health and Safety.Bureau of Labor Statistics.The Center on Aging & Work/Workplace Flexibility at Boston CollegeLESLIE AYRES, THE JOB SEARCH GURUDuke UniversityWharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvaniahttp://www.aging.unc.edu/groups/work/forum2008/Source: American Business and Older Employees. AARP.Washington DC: 2000; Bureau of Labor Statistics 6 Fraser Valley Training Group info@idothat.ca 604-649-1181