Why and How your company should tap on a Mature Workforce to Boost your Business
By Clare Chong
Five employers were penalized by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) for discriminating against older workers in their job postings in March last year. In a 2019 poll conducted locally, only 63% of respondents reported that their workplace valued all employees regardless of age.
The above bias cannot be further from the truth. Here’s the why and how for your company to tap on a mature workforce to boost your business.
NUMBERS AND DATA
Currently, every 6 in 10 workers in Singapore are 40 years old or above. Against this workforce demographic, Singapore’s productivity has risen by an impressive 30 per cent In over the past ten years. Research also shows that cognitive performance does not fall significantly until after 70 or even 80 years old. Taken together, these data and numbers suggest that our mature workforce is the driving force behind Singapore’s success in digitalisation and automation.
BENEFIT OF HIRING OLDER WORKERS
Older workers have a lot more experience in problem-solving and managing issues more efficiently. As they have sharpened their skill sets over the years, they require less hand-holding and are usually more composed and stable. Their wealth of experience also comes in handy when it comes to mentoring new colleagues. Employers should leverage their skills, talents and experience so as to pass on their knowledge to the younger generation.
Being in the workforce for much longer, these experienced employees have a wider network of contacts to tap into. In business, the most important thing is not what you know, but who you know. They may have formed informal relationships with ex-colleagues or clients and all these connections may come in handy one day.
Older staff are more likely to pay greater attention to work ethics and feel a stronger sense of belonging to the company. They are generally more likely to stay in one company if they are satisfied with their job roles. Their dedication would be reflected in them honouring commitments, respecting authority and getting the job done with high levels of professionalism. In contrast, younger employees may still be exploring the different career pathways in their early careers and are more inclined to move on to other organisations.
HOW TO CREATE AN INCLUSIVE WORKPLACE FOR OLDER WORKERS
With career mobility becoming commonplace, it could be harder than ever to retain well-experienced talents. However, career mobility is not the same as job-hopping-- these mature individuals could still stay in the same company while transiting to a different role or taking up an overseas assignment if the workplace remains inclusive and attractive to them.
According to Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP), there are some standards to follow so you can build an age-friendly workplace:
- Recruit based on Merit
Employers should avoid relying on age as a hiring criterion and should also train hiring personnel in fair recruitment practices that do not discriminate against older applicants. You may however state that a position is suitable for mature workers to enhance their employment opportunities.
- Appoint a senior manager to advocate age-friendly practices and manage an intergenerational workforce
The senior management personnel should plan and organise activities to educate HR and supervisory staff on age-friendly workplace practices and manage resources to support the implementation of age-friendly measures.
Managers and supervisors should be trained to address generational differences and create an inclusive workplace for all. A fair performance management system and reward structure could go a long way in encouraging employees to contribute positively to your business while leveraging on their diverse experience, skill sets and knowledge.
- Being flexible with work arrangements and job redesign
Progressive employers should offer flexible work arrangements (FWAs) to address various needs of your mature staff. There can be flexibility in location, tasks and work schedules so as to give your older workers more autonomy over their workstyles.FWAs also enhance efficiency, engagement and productivity while saving costs and retaining these mature talents.
Redesigning a job could include making it easy (e.g. using larger screen displays and mechanical aids to replace manual labour), safe (e.g.installing slip-resistant surfaces and ergonomic office chairs to minimise risk of injuries) and smart (e.g. tapping on technology to automate routine tasks to free time for knowledge-based work).
- Invest in Employees’ well-being
When your staff stays healthy, your company incur lower healthcare costs and increase overall productivity.
Some initiatives you can consider implementing are:
- Health workshops (e.g. how to choose healthier food)
- Fitness programmes
- Sports activities
- Corporate social responsibility events
- Sponsored physical check-ups
ADDRESSING THE ISSUE OF AGEISM
With Singapore having a greying population, society and employers need to embrace and tap on our growing mature workforce. Instead of harbouring preconceived notions about older workers, companies should think about how to build an inclusive multigenerational workplace to boost overall productivity.
As an employer, how do you go about implementing age-friendly practices in your organisation?