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Age-Friendly Workforce Asia


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Speech delivered by Kim Walker, CEO of Silver Group (Asia Pacific's leading consultant in the 50+ market) at the Ageing Workforce Asia Conference in Singapore on November 4th.

The speech explains the need for companies to address the ageing workforce to remain productive and competitive.

It also reveals the proprietary AF assesment tool to measure and monitor the age-friendliness of the company.

The tool is available for licence at:

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Age-Friendly Workforce Asia

  1. 1. Contact: Kim Walker, CEO, Silver Group email:© Silver Group 2011 1
  2. 2. Labor: Will we still have enough skilled employees, do we need to work with more elderly? Capital: In an aging world, will there be sufficient capital available? Should we prepare for shortages or surpluses? Growth: Can the world still grow when there is aging? How will this differ between the developed world and Rapidly Developing Economies? Needs: If clients become older. What does that mean in terms of products they want, but also in terms of services and how they are addressed?© Silver Group 2011 2
  3. 3. Aging brings along two risks for the work force: 1) Productivity risk: an increase in the proportion of older workers •! Physical side: less productive in physically demanding jobs and an increase in health related absenteeism •! Loss of motivation: career paths today are generally designed to only move up. People should grow and then the career path suddenly ends at its peak. Its crucial this will be changed to more gradual forms, better leveraging that capabilities and core strengths of the elderly 2) Capacity risk: •! Loss of capabilities of the elderly (social/communication) •! Loss of expertise. With them retiring, a huge amount of knowledge will just walk out the door if companies dont act© Silver Group 2011 3
  4. 4. Four key actions to mitigate demographic workforce risks 4 4
  5. 5. •!Two core aspects of ageing are Physiology and Psychology •!Psychology shaped by major events such as retirement, loss of spouse plus local, regional, ethnic, religious and nurture differences •!Physiology is universal, relentless and inevitable© Silver Group 2011 5
  6. 6. © Silver Group 2011 6
  7. 7. Physiological ageing is universal, relentless and affects everything.© Silver Group 2011 7
  8. 8. Three main categories of physiological ageing: 1) Sensory = taste, smell, touch, sight and hearing 2) Physical = grand frame, extremities. Flexibility and strength. Weight and shape/size 3) Cognitive = complexity and comprehension© Silver Group 2011 8
  9. 9. •!World Health Organization: About 65% of all people who are visually impairedare aged 50 and older, while this age group comprises about 20 % of theworlds population. With an increasing elderly population in many countries,more people will be at risk of age-related visual impairment.•!Ageing muscles, bones and joints reduce flexibility with age.•!Affects things like signage, lighting, labeling, instructions, product usabilitybuttons & indicators•!Of the AT Kearney participants, 52 percent in the 60-70 group, 58 percent inthe 70-80 group, and 66 percent aged over 80 say they cannot read labelsproperly, even when wearing glasses or contact lenses.•!50% more lighting for employees between 40 and 55 years of age 100%more lighting for employees over 55 9
  10. 10. •!60% of the 50-plus have hearing problems- onset of hearing problems is getting younger •!According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) in the USA: one-third of people in the United States between the ages of 65 and 75 and close to one-half of those older than 75 have some degree of hearing loss.© Silver Group 2011 10
  11. 11. •!We have approximately 9,000 taste buds. Beginning younger in women the number of taste buds decreases at 50 to 60 in men. Each remaining taste bud also begins to atrophy (lose mass). The sensitivity to the four taste sensations does not seem to decrease until after age 60, if at all. If taste sensation is lost, usually salty and sweet tastes are lost first, with bitter and sour tastes lasting slightly longer. •!Additionally, your mouth produces less saliva as you age. This causes dry mouth, which can make swallowing more difficult. It also makes digestion slightly less efficient and can increase dental problems.© Silver Group 2011 11
  12. 12. © Silver Group 2011 12
  13. 13. Lifting loads > 20% of the maximum strength of a young worker according to EU guidelines.© Silver Group 2011 13
  14. 14. •!Physical mobility and flexibility declines after 50. •!20% of Singaporeans over 65 have chronic pain. 8.7% of total population •!Steps and stairs become obstacles •!Affects transport & accommodation© Silver Group 2011 14
  15. 15. •!Arthritis = the most common cause of disability with the aging of the U.S.population.•!In 2007–2009, 50% of adults 65 years or older reported an arthritis diagnosis. 15
  16. 16. •!Declines in attention capacity perceptual speed short term memory •!UCSF Memory and Aging Center graph shows that our cognitive abilities remain relatively constant until they reach a breakpoint, and then decline at a constant rate. •! The pace of cognitive decline is the same in our 40’s as in our 80’s. We just notice more accumulated decline as we get older, especially when we cross the threshold of forgetting most of what we try to remember.© Silver Group 2011 16
  17. 17. •!may not understand: technical terminology young language/jargon© Silver Group 2011 17
  18. 18. •!So is ageing a problem or opportunity? A risk or reward? •!I believe it’s can be a competitive advantage / vote winner for early movers. •!Example; in USA, AARP (American Association of retired Persons) = A 60 million-strong voting lobby!© Silver Group 2011 18
  19. 19. © Silver Group 2011 19
  20. 20. © Silver Group 2011 20
  21. 21. •!We need a world that is no longer merely optimised for young people but …… •!Neither do we want a world that is optimised for older people •!We need an age-friendly world: “A world that accommodates the unique physical needs of older people in a way that is natural and beneficial for all ages”© Silver Group 2011 21
  22. 22. The AF audit tool measures and monitors: •! Age-friendly marketing for consumers •! Age-friendly workplaces for employees •! Age-friendly cities for our citizens •! Age-friendly medical care for patients© Silver Group 2011 22
  23. 23. So businesses can remove the barriers with older workers,© Silver Group 2011 23
  24. 24. © Silver Group 2011 24
  25. 25. •!No point just looking at one aspect of the journey. •!It’s about the entire journey, not just about the job itself.© Silver Group 2011 25
  26. 26. •!Our proprietary AF tool measures and benchmarks the age-friendliness of an enterprise. It measures the ‘journeys’ made by consumers, by employees or by citizens through the prism of ageing. •!We’ve identified over 27 universal physiological effects of ageing. And on a complete ‘journey’ there can be more than 150 touchpoints. •!The result is a comprehensive, accurate assessment of age-friendliness clearly indicating the potential barriers that need to be addressed. •!The AF mark certifies the age-friendliness of companies, brands and institutions who consistently achieve a high (4+) rating based on our audit.© Silver Group 2011 26
  27. 27. •!The AF tool uses an iPad interface to guide qualified auditors through a rigorous sequence of tests. •!Objective measures require deployment of special applications to measure light and sound levels etc. •!The Tool employs cloud storage technology to store inputs, images and more© Silver Group 2011 27
  28. 28. •!On the workforce productivity side BMW serves as a fantastic example. In one of its plants, a manager anticipated the rise of the average age of his factory workers in a very pragmatic way: he staffed one production line with workers with an average age of 47, i.e. the average age all of his workers would have in 10 years. •!The new line had a productivity 7% lower than the average in the factory, saw higher levels of absenteeism and achieved lower quality scores. This confirmed that going unchecked, aging would indeed cause a problem. He then had all the workers on the line come up with adjustments that would help them overcome physical and mental restrictions that older people face. Very simple changes were made, •! Tools: ergonomic chairs, magnifying lenses, wooden flooring •! Process: Job rotation, stretching exercises before work Results were impressive despite a limited investment •! Productivity at par with other lines •! Absenteeism dropped (7% ! 2%), below plant average •! Line achieved a zero defects rate Several similar project now are being run within BMW.© Silver Group 2011 28
  29. 29. •!World Health Organisation. Published guide on Age-Friendly cities. •!First global conference held in Dublin, Ireland September 28~30, 2011.© Silver Group 2011 29
  30. 30. © Silver Group 2011 30
  31. 31. Let’s make work ‘age-friendly’!? Contact: Kim Walker, CEO, Silver Group +65 91555567 (Singapore)© Silver Group 2011 31
  32. 32. Contact: Kim Walker, CEO, Silver Group +65 91555567 (Singapore)© Silver Group 2011 32