Singapore’s re-employment law came into effect on Jan 1 this year, making it mandatory for employers to offer re-employment to people who have reached 62 years of age.
But while it is recognised that mature age candidates have a lot to offer and can help overcome the skills shortage, clear resistance is still evident from some hiring managers towards employing these candidates.
The biggest challenge facing mature age candidates has been this prejudice, which is usually based on incorrect stereotypes. These include notions that mature age workers are set in their ways, work with outdated processes, are inapt with technology or only want part-time work.
But the reverse is usually true — many mature age workers want permanent full-time work, are looking for job stability, pick up new technology very quickly and are more than willing to try new ways of doing business.
These workers have got great ideas to bring to the table based on their wealth of past experience. They are experienced, skilled, stable and a valuable resource.
So, with legislation in place for re-employment to continue beyond the age of 62, how can organisations practically accommodate mature age workers?
Here are some tips:
Age-friendly recruitment practices
As Singapore’s population ages, age-friendly recruitment practices are essential. This means writing job advertisements that focus on the skills required for the role, rather than implying the age of applicants.
For example, avoid references such as, “you will be part of a young dynamic team”. Review the practices and attitudes of your hiring managers to ensure they select from the best pool of suitable candidates, not only those of a particular age group. Make recruitment decisions based upon a priority list of selection criteria, which is applied consistently to all candidates.
Some employees or organisations may fear that a mature age workforce will dilute those elements of their culture that are perceived to only come from youth, such as dynamism or a forward-thinking approach.
Others may assume their older colleagues have outdated skills or are preventing younger workers from progressing. These are just some of the perceptions you may need to counter to ensure a productive and successful multi-generational workforce.
Various studies have shown that work-life balance is critically important to maintain the mature age employees’ capacity to remain in the workforce.
Can you offer telecommuting, flexible start and finish times or part-time options? But don’t make assumptions — an employee may also want to remain in full-time employment, so talk to each individual about their expectations.
Phased retirements involve an employee gradually transitioning from full employment to full retirement. For example, over a period of several years, an employee could gradually reduce the number of hours or days worked.
In this way, you retain their skills and knowledge for as long as possible, while allowing them to transition from work to retirement at their own pace.
There is an unfortunate myth that older workers do not want to learn new ways of performing their job function or are unwilling to learn new technologies.
But a number of studies show that they want to continue to learn. Indeed, it is often the incorrect perception that mature age employees are set in their ways that is the barrier preventing them from receiving skills advancement opportunities.
While the re-employment law makes no guarantee a mature age worker will get the same job at the same pay, employers are encouraged to consider the skills and experience that mature age workers possess and offer a competitive package based on this.
Open dialogue will help you understand how to motivate your mature age employees, who need inspiration just as much as their younger colleagues.
While there is a desire among many mature age employees to remain valued and involved in the workplace, you need to hone this desire and ensure that they are contributing in a way that makes best use of their skills.
But what motivates one employee may not motivate another. Your line managers need to ensure they are tuned in to what motivates all their staff, not just those they consider to be young high achievers.
Targeting the growing mature age candidate pool will not only allow a business to source from the widest range of experienced professionals, but will also, over time, result in more employers recognising the value of mature candidates’ stability, maturity, knowledge and continuity of employment.