Saturday, February 9

Managing the aging workforce: Status quo and implications for the advancement of theory and practice

This is slowly becoming a problem. I first came across this issue when I was dealing with the Y2K problem. Before that, all I thought was to get the wrinklies into the retirement bucket and end of story. But now that I am a wrinkly myself, and having to handle other aging people as well, it is tough. Age Discrimination laws have made it very important to manage them properly and with dignity. You cannot just retire them willy nilly. You cant ask about the age of prospective candidates, etc. etc. So it is a bit challenging. As for myself, I am planning to work till I am carried out feet first!

Here's an interesting paper which reviews the current state of academic research in this area. I quote the main bits:

First, it seems that retirement is a well-researched topic and that there is common agreement that a flexible or phased retirement can be beneficial for both the individual and the organization. The employee can slowly adjust to his/her new life perspectives, while the company does not lose important skills and experience overnight. However, organizations have to allow and implement the appropriate policies and measures, as well as an appropriate cultural mindset. Surprisingly, there is also wide agreement in terms of older workers’ performance. There seems to be no scientific proof that an older workforce is less productive than a relatively younger one. It also seems that the right organizational measures play an important role in maintaining the workforce’ performance. Training and development still are issues that require human resource management to integrate employees regardless of their age and according to their individual needs. After all, research has shown that older employees have significantly higher ethical standards than younger ones and this is beneficial for any organization.

Christoph K. Streb, Sven C. Voelpel and Marius Leibold, Managing the aging workforce:: Status quo and implications for the advancement of theory and practice, European Management JournalVolume 26, Issue 1, , February 2008, Pages 1-10.
Abstract: Summary
This paper synthesizes and translates secondary and empirical research findings on the aging workforce for the non-specialist reader, adopting a business management perspective that has to date been neglected. We chose two different approaches to review the status quo of this particular topic: First, a literature review of the Financial Times Top 40 publications, and second, a number of selected case examples that we based on our own empirical research, thereby shedding light onto the issue of aging workforce management from a practical and experiential perspective.
As a result, the paper presents findings on and conclusions about the most important future implications of the aging workforce for management.
Keywords: Aging workforce; Demographic change; Business management; Empirical research

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