Population changes have the potential to seriously challenge your ability to attract and maintain the workforce you need. It’s time to take action to ensure that you are well prepared to overcome the challenges– longer life expectancy, low birth rates and retirees are set to leave the workforce in large numbers. It becomes necessary to identify the roles, individuals, and competencies which are leaving and identifying the requirements to fill these gaps.
Skill shortages may occur in certain occupations & positions due to an insufficient number of workers with required skill sets to replace those who will be retiring. As an effect, there can be lower efficiency and productivity levels, higher training costs and higher compensation.
Also, a large number of older workers have the desire to work after the traditional retirement age, and their reasons are not just financial.
Retaining retiring talent is to the mutual benefit of both the employer and the employee: the employer can retain talented employees in areas in which skills are scarce and the employee continues to remain occupied and earning. Additional benefits to the employer are that the loyal older employees not only enhance the company’s reputation, but also yield higher quality work and attention to detail.
As the workforce ages and absences rise, the costs increase. To reduce absences, some organizations are using methods such as provide wooden flooring, easier-to-read computer screens, set up a wellness or health program at the workplace to encourage the workers to lead healthier lifestyles. These kinds of programs have been shown to improve health and well-being, lower healthcare costs, reduce absenteeism and increase productivity. Growing ranks of older employees have helped in creating a friendlier, more conscientious work environment.
Dr. O. P. Vermani is Former Chairman, Chemistry Department at National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra. After teaching Applied Chemistry for 39 years to engineering students, he retired at the age of 62. He has been a visiting fellow to various institutes in Haryana. He has to his credit a number of research papers in Journals of National and International repute. He is best known for his books Applied Chemistry, Theory & Practice and Industrial Chemistry, recommended at various Engineering & Technical Institutions. Dr. Vermani believes that retirees should get Respectable Pay Package, preferably with Health Cover, linked to talent and work-load of the employees. Exclusive expert views:
1. Are you retired and still working?
At present I am not working. After working for 39 years, I retired in December 2005, at the age of 62. However after a gap of about one year, I took up job elsewhere and worked for nearly seven more years. Finally, in January 2014, at the age of 70, I permanently retired.
2. What were your reasons for working after retirement?
Well, after my normal retirement from NIT Kurukshetra, Haryana, I shifted to Greater Noida, UP, to stay with my son. My family and friends were divided over whether I should work again or not. But one thing was certain that I would not take up a full time job as it would be physically and emotionally draining. As if I had earned the right not to work, the colleges in Greater Noida were not yet used to hiring Part-time or Visiting Professors. So I started enjoying my leisure. But soon the euphoria was over. I realized that I had overestimated the time my hobbies would consume. I was getting bored by leisure, the very source of initial enjoyment. I missed the routine of having somewhere to go every morning. I was feeling isolated from society. So I decided to try my luck again. In January 2007, Galgotias College of Engineering and Technology took me as Visiting Professor of Chemistry, but asked me to teach Environmental Studies, a subject in which the students were generally not interested. I took up the challenge. The first few months were difficult. I was preparing for the lecture and having my lunch in my car, as suitable office space was not available. Slowly the situation started improving. More students were showing interest in my lectures. I also started enjoying teaching the new subject, in fact much more than teaching the subject of my specialization—Chemistry. I was allotted a cabin and my workload was so adjusted that I stayed in the college only in the forenoons. My younger colleagues were respectful and the college appreciated my work. My self-worth gota boost and I continued to work till I turned 70.
3. Why are more and more retirees returning to work?
Most people who work after retirement say that they have to work because of financial issues. Some of the financial issues are:
Longer life spans
Limited or no savings
Rising cost of living
Healthcare costs rising very fast
Decreasing value of investments
Thus many will be required to work longer or significantly scale down their retirement aspirations/living standards.
While working longer adds to the savings kitty, there are other reasons also:
Physical and mental fitness– Working plays a key role in keeping the mind functioning optimally and thus avoids premature memory loss. Climbing of stairs and walking around the office keeps the workers physically fit. Working also keeps them socially active and prevents isolation. Thus they feel younger longer. Many younger colleagues have watched their parents age quickly after retirement. They don’t want to do so.
Change of course– Now is the time to look at a new career—to do something you always dreamed of (early passion) but could not do before, even though it may not be as remunerative as your previous career. Popular fields are Education, Social Service, Entrepreneurship, and Consultancy.
Longevity bonus– Due to increase in life expectancy, the retirees know that they still have 5-15 years of active life left during which they want to do something productive rather than sitting idle.
Self-worth– Many people feel that retirees are considered useless by/for the society. Continuing working increases their feeling of self- worth.
So what was earlier considered as an exception, working after retirement is now becoming a norm. Retirement is no longer a clean break from working to not-working. Rather it now means
Not working as much
Using abilities a lot longer in somewhat relaxed but productive way.
4. What are the expectations of retiree workers from their prospective employers?
Flexible working hours/option to work from home
Consultant, Adviser, Part-time job
Respectable Pay Package, preferably with Health Cover, linked to talent and work-load of the employee.
Transport, especially for women workers
Women being primary care-givers at homes, they need more flexibility in job to meet those responsibilities.
1. Install a phased-retirement program.
2. Offer flexible work and retirement options, putting more emphasis on employees’ loyalty, track records, competence and common sense.
3. Retrain employees for jobs that better suit their aging skill sets, say, to help oversee projects, foster community relations, and facilitate intergenerational mentoring.
4. Consider recently retired executives for temporary consultancy roles.
5. Reward managers for retaining older workers who can contribute to achieving organizational goals.