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Symposium 2012

Proposal - Mount a comprehensive effort to build the public policies, workplace practices, legal safeguards, and practical individual supports to promote the attraction and retention of older workers

The Challenge

Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) Session The key socioeconomic trend in many parts of the world—including China, Europe and the United States—is an ageing society. This trend is driven i ...

Bureau of European Policy Advisers (BEPA) Session

The key socioeconomic trend in many parts of the world—including China, Europe and the United States—is an ageing society. This trend is driven in part by lower fertility but mainly by higher longevity. This means that growing old age dependency—the ratio of older retired people to younger working people—will not disappear with the passing of the baby boom generation: indeed, it will keep increasing.

In the last 100 years, the industrialized nations of the world added over 35 years to life expectancy. A recent United Nations Population Fund report projects that by 2050, there will be more people over the age of 60 than under 15. [Calestous Juma, Forbes]

AARP, a membership organization of nearly 38 million people age 50 and older, believes in the value of older workers. AARP and others have long contended that older workers are among the most productive, most loyal, and most engaged employees.  They bring to the workplace important assets such as knowledge, maturity, experience, and a proven capacity to get along with customers. Capturing and retaining this value holds the promise of long-term social and financial dividends and a competitive advantage to savvy businesses who take the appropriate steps.

The reality is that the older population is quite possibly the greatest untapped market for labor and commerce that the world has ever seen. AARP makes investments to ensure the business community, the United States, and the world realizes their potential.

 

AARP Champions Older Workers: A Multi-front Approach

We are working on multiple levels to prepare individuals, employers, and the marketplace to level the playing field for older workers. We promote  the value of older workers and cultivate the practices that help to attract and retain experienced employees.

Employers who demonstrate their appreciation for experienced workers by addressing workplace issues, such as the need for flexible work schedules to accommodate caregivers, phased-retirement programs, and policies to prevent age-discrimination, are rewarded by dedicated and knowledgeable workers who provide a distinct competitive advantage in a challenging marketplace.

At AARP, we are connecting older employees to job openings and we are identifying and affirming the vital role of those businesses that actively seek and benefit from older workers.

This summer, AARP launched an effort we call Work Reimagined, a social network-based jobs program that brings together employers who are seeking experienced workers with qualified professionals looking for new or more satisfying careers. The site for this initiative (www.workreimagined.org) leverages the platform of the professional networking site, LinkedIn.

Through the integration of LinkedIn information, qualified workers are put in the same space as employers who value those workers.  AARP is working to make sure these workers are comfortable in that space.  So often these days, the job search is a cyber-search, and we are helping to take the mystery out of that process.

Through Work Reimagined, experienced workers find advice and insights relevant to them in today’s job market. They also find access to current job openings with the more than 140 employers who have taken the Work Reimagined pledge.

Employers who sign the pledge agree that they:

  • Are open to the value of experienced workers
  • Have nondiscriminatory human resource  policies
  • Have at least some immediate hiring needs at the time they sign the pledge

 

Promoting Best Practices in the Workplace: Over the years we have observed a wide variety of best practices by employers when it comes to attracting and retaining older workers.  Among the approaches that are appealing to older employees and a good investment for employers are:

  • Actively recruiting older workers.  By maintaining alumni networks, rehiring their own retirees (perhaps on a part-time basis), using senior placement agencies, and turning to social media, companies can effectively reach older workers and retirees.
  • Offering a culture of opportunity. By providing programs such as tuition reimbursement, in-house training (including job rotations and temporary assignments across departments), and mentoring, employers create conditions for growth on a personal and corporate level.

  • Paying attention to health. Some companies offer health insurance to part-time workers. Benefits for long-term care insurance, even if the employee pays the premium, and short-and long-term disability are also valuable for older workers. Health screenings, flu shots, smoking cessation and weight loss programs advance wellbeing and productivity.
  • Establishing a secure retirement. By automatically enrolling employees in a 401 (k) plan and matching at least part of the employee’s contribution, companies can make a solid investment in their workforce and greatly increase the financial security of their employees. Offering financial education to employees will reinforce this investment.

  • Building a flexible workplace. Top companies offer flexible arrangements geared to the modern world. Compressed work schedules, telecommuting, phased retirement programs, on-site care, and leaves of absence with or without pay are accommodations that enable workers to meet family responsibilities and to focus on their work. For boomers who are handling child care responsibilities while also caring for their aging parents, such flexibility is especially welcome.

 

Supporting Experienced Workers

For individual workers, AARP is offering practical advice and real connections to make the job search more productive. We’re helping to build online job-search skills, and we offer educational resources on writing and posting resumes, nailing tough interview questions, and creating a network of contacts. AARP.org/work/ offers how-to articles, quizzes, ideas for great home-based jobs, and age discrimination detectors among a wealth of information to help shape a rewarding career.

Building Entrepreneurship: Millions of Americans dream of owning their own business, and many who have lost jobs are becoming entrepreneurs. AARP and the U.S. Small Business Administration have joined forces to promote entrepreneurship as a career option for older Americans. We’re aiming to link 100,000 Americans over age 50 with small business development resources, including live workshops, conferences and mentoring programs.

AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50 – Helping Employers Attract and Retain Experienced Workers: Reinforcing these efforts, AARP is helping to build greater awareness of best practices among employers when it comes to older workers.

For over a decade, we have recognized employers across the country that have carried out forward-looking policies for recruiting and retaining older employees.  The AARP Best Employers for Workers Over 50 program, cosponsored by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), awards businesses and organizations that have implemented new and innovative policies and best practices in talent management. The program puts the spotlight on organizations that are creating road maps for others on how to attract and retain top talent in today’s multigenerational workforce.

This program runs in the United States and internationally, and has featured organizations like BMW, BT, John Deere, and MIT.

Promoting Social Policies: We’re continuing our 50-year fight against negative stereotypes of older workers through multiple media channels. Our strongest weapons are the facts –experienced employees are among the most reliable, most loyal, and most engaged.

We also lend our support to legislation and litigation to combat age discrimination in the workplace. AARP helped pass the federal law that protects individuals from age discrimination in employment, and we continue to fight to keep that law strong.

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