Around the globe, companies overlook older workers

RP news wires, Noria Corporation
Tags: talent management

Manpower Inc. announced April 23 the results of a survey of more than 28,000 employers across 25 countries and territories that was conducted to determine the extent to which employers have recruiting and/or retention strategies in place for workers age 50 and above. The findings reveal that only 14 percent of employers worldwide have strategies in place to recruit older workers and only 21 percent have implemented retention strategies to keep them participating in the workforce.


"Many employers have not yet recognized the need to forecast the percentage of their workforce that is set to retire in the next five to 10 years and planned ahead to stem the potential loss of productivity and intellectual capital that will occur when those people walk out the door," said Jeffrey A. Joerres, chairman and chief executive officer of Manpower Inc. "A surprisingly large number of organizations are still viewing upcoming retirements as cost-savings opportunities, but this is a dangerous and shortsighted view, as older adults will be relied upon as one of the most important sources of talent for the future workforce."


The survey found that employers in Japan and Singapore are far ahead of their international counterparts, with 83 and 53 percent of employers surveyed, respectively, working proactively to retain their older employees. Conversely, in Italy and Spain far fewer employers, both at 6 percent, have such strategies in place.


"One key reason that Japan and Singapore are so much more focused on keeping their aging employees on the payroll is due to government legislation and incentive programs designed to promote such activities, whereas countries like Italy and Spain do not have the same level of government-inspired call to action," said Joerres.


The government connection is most apparent in Japan, where only 12 percent of employers reported having strategies in place to recruit older workers – 71 percent fewer than those having retention strategies for the aging workforce – a difference that is likely due to the fact that the legislation is focused on extending the employment of older workers. In 19 of the 25 countries where employers were surveyed, retention strategies were more prevalent than recruiting strategies for older workers; however, none had as significant a gap between the two responses as Japan.


The extent to which employers have addressed the recruitment and retention of older workers to ease talent shortages depends upon a variety of complex factors. However, Manpower has found the major variables to be:

  • The size of the national labor pool;
  • The demographic profile of the labor pool;
  • The degree to which talent shortages are being experienced at present; and
  • Government legislation or programs that either promote or discourage labor force participation by older workers.


"Talent shortages are always a great motivator for employers take action and proactively engage segments of the workforce that tend to be under- employed or under-valued, and the older workforce is no exception," said Joerres. "It appears that most employers worldwide are ignoring the demographic forecasts and evidence of growing talent shortages, and instead, still waiting to see it in their headlights before they begin to think differently about the older workforce. By then, it could be too late to avoid the impact of large-scale retirements on the productivity and knowledge base of their company."


The survey announcement coincides with the publication of a new Manpower white paper, "The New Agenda for an Older Workforce." The white paper explores the increasing reality of the global aging workforce, the resulting gaps in workforce supply, and the demand that this is creating. It proposes strategies that companies can adopt to circumvent these talent challenges; recommendations on how employers can help older employees extend their careers should they choose to do so; and suggestions for the role that governments can play to help solve the older worker conundrum.


"The conundrum on the horizon is that the older employees who have the talent companies most need to retain are those who have the financial flexibility and employment options to retire or downshift to a more flexible work arrangement," said Joerres. "The best way to attract and retain older workers is to have jobs they want, and what they want is flexible, part-time jobs that interest them. It may be a few more years before employers determine how to effectively offer the part-time roles that mature adults would prefer.”


About Manpower Inc.

Manpower Inc. is a world leader in the employment services industry; creating and delivering services that enable its clients to win in the changing world of work. The $18 billion company offers employers a range of services for the entire employment and business cycle including permanent, temporary and contract recruitment; employee assessment and selection; training; outplacement; outsourcing and consulting.

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