International Day of Older Persons

Retirement On the 1st October 2013, it is the International Day of Older Persons and the theme for this year is “The future we want: what older persons are saying.”

There will be lots of activities happening around this date, by organisations dedicated to supporting the issues for older workers. However, in business we could use this day to consider the impact of age diversity in our own organisations.

Due to recent demographic shifts people are living longer and therefore working longer. In consequence workforces are and increasingly will be, more age diverse. Exciting times for our workplaces, however, with shifts come new challenges for leaders. In this case: how to deal with this new scale and level of diversity in the workplace. Today’s workplaces need to be thinking actively around these following questions……

  • Is your organisation age friendly?
  • Are you responding to the growing numbers of older workers and consumers?
  • Do your company diversity policies include any proactive reference regarding age diversity?
  • Are you managing the challenges of a multi-generational workforce?

Currently, in Ireland, there are 6 people working to each 1 person in retirement. By 2050 this will drop to 2 people for each 1 person in retirement. Current arrangements of people working towards 65 and then retiring on their pension are simply not sustainable. The over 65’s are going to be a large demographic – globally. They will be one of the biggest consumer groups, in addition to being an increasing group of available talent.

Life expectancy for men and women born in 1996 is 73 and 78.5 respectively. Men and women born in 2041 are expected to live until 86.5 and 88.3 years of age respectively. In Ireland, the number of people over the age of 65 is expected to increase by 50 per cent by 2031 and then by 2050 the number will have trebled.  In USA, 56% of people over 65 are still working. This has risen from 44% only 13 years ago (Meister &Willyerd, 2010). A recent 2010 OECD report showed that 22% of men in Ireland aged between 65 & 69 were still in employment. The view of retirement is going through a dramatic shift and it is time to provide career support to those people approaching ‘retirement’.  Retirement no longer just means the end of work, but is now filled with alternative activities including paid and unpaid work, social activities, hobbies and self-employment.

Older workers who have not continued to train and keep skills up to date face ‘decay’ of their career progression. This makes them vulnerable and unprepared for creating a longer working life. If organisations can create opportunities and training for managers to work more effectively with older workers; this will support sustained employability for older workers.

Ireland along with many countries is facing a time of a new image of the stereotype of people at retirement age. How is your organisation planning for becoming an age friendly organisation? Maybe you can use this international day as an opportunity for holding a discussion on older workers, or becoming age friendly, or even holding an inter-generational activity?

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