Thursday, 30 July 2009

Mandatory retirement age good for employers? We don't think so.

The Employers Forum on Age (EFA) and The Age and Employment Network (TAEN) have conducted a survey of 198 HR directors and senior managers, designed to gauge the experience of employers implementing a mandatory retirement age (MRA). 85% confirmed their organisation had an MRA, of which 98% have set it at age 65.

However, the findings of the survey showed that while 81% of firms with an MRA believed it made manpower and succession planning easier, 71% of those without a default retirement age said they experienced no such problems.

In addition, while 80% of employers using an MRA felt it stopped the careers of younger workers from being blocked, two-thirds said they did not believe it helped to improve performance and 53% claimed an MRA had not helped to move on underperforming older employees.

Other findings revealed that 95% of employers with an MRA apply it to all staff, while 10% said they always agree to requests from individual employees to continue working past the MRA, although the majority - 84% - only sometimes agree and 7% never do.

The survey showed 64% of those questioned claimed the biggest disadvantage to a default retirement age is the loss of talent to an organisation, while 74% admitted it had an adverse impact on workers preferring to work past age 65, and 37% suggested it posed risks from demographic factors such as population ageing and declining birth rates.

Meanwhile, of the 29 firms without an MRA, 93% revealed this was a formal policy decision in the organisation, and 78% claimed the move was a positive step as it improved morale and at least 45% said they believed it had improved performance in some way.

That said, the findings also showed that in those firms without an MRA just 18% said "most" employees work beyond age 65, while 82% admitted "only a few" take advantage of the potential to keep working.

In conclusion, the EFA and TAEN claimed: "Taking these results at face value, it would seem that the advantages of having an MRA have been exaggerated. The benefits of mandatory retirement for employers do not seem in practice to match the claims made by those who wished to see mandatory retirement retained."

It argued the survey "undermines the argument that there are strong business benefits in having MRAs" as most respondents agreed its presence "had an adverse impact on employees who want to work on".

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

And What Do You Do? 10 Steps to Creating a Portfolio Career

You will see that there is a new book in our widget to the right. This is one that I have written with Katie Ledger and which is already on Amazon although it is not published until October 15th. The publisher is A&C Black, part of the Bloomsbury group. I will post more about this later as one of the things that Katie and I discovered in researching for the book was that the concept of a portfolio career - having more than one job at a time by choice - was a career pattern that had attractions for the 50+'s. The other group that found it very attractive was the Gen Y's - the under 28's. So maybe the different generations are not quite so far apart as some in the media suggest. Watch this space......

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Can't we celebrate living longer?

This is the title of an excellent article by John Appleby in the Guardian. He is commenting on the latest US Census Bureau's analysis of future world population projections. They are making some very scary predictions as to the consequences for all countries , including developing ones, of the demographic time bomb. The US Bureau says that people aged over 65 will soon outnumber children aged under five for the first time in history. John comments that this sounds oddly ominous, in a rather non-specific way. "In fact, the number of over-65-year-olds in England, for example, have outweighed the number of under-fives for some time – this year by nearly three to one. Has anyone noticed what a burden or problem this has been?" Read it to pick up the rest of the predictions and his less alarmist reactions to them.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Older workers still managing to win jobs

Older workers are managing to win jobs amid the worst declines in employment on record, official figures revealed.

The number of retirement-age Britons in work expanded by 26,000 in the most recent quarter, the reported yesterday.

That compares with a decline of 295,000 in employment across the rest of the population in the three months ended May.

The rate of attrition is particularly painful among young people, with the unemployment rate among those aged 16-24 at its highest since the early 1990s. This is fuelling fears of a 'lost generation' unable to enter the workforce during a devastating recession.

The resilience at the older end of the jobs market is partly fuelled by firms such as B&Q, which has long targeted over-50s because they are often dab hands at DIY and tend to be particularly conscientious.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Retirement age up to 70!

This is one of options available to the G'ment - whatever its hue - according to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research. The influential think-tank reckons there are only three possible ways to plug the giant hole in the public finances: extend the retirement age to 70, hike the basic rate of income tax by about 15p , or slash public spending by about 10% . Either way, we'd all be feeling the pain for a long time to come...

Like most economists, NIESR reckons the Chancellor was wildly optimistic when he forecast a contraction of 3.5% this year (with a recovery in the later months). It is predicting a slide of 4.3%, which would be the economy's worst showing since 1931, during the Great Depression. It's also suggesting that unemployment won't peak until 2011, at about 3.1m (nearly 10% of the workforce); that wages will grow below the rate of inflation until 2012; and that consumer spending will keep declining until 2011. Oh, and it thinks quantitative easing is a waste of time.
As a result, it says, drastic action is required. Rather than extending the retirement age to 68 by 2046, as per the current plan, the NIESR thinks we need to extend it to 70 between 2013 (after the peak in unemployment) and 2023 - every extra year worked would reduce the deficit by 1% of GDP, it claims. However, even then we'd need to push up income tax by 8p in the pound - and without the extension, the hike would need to be more like 15p in the pound. The only other alternative is savage public spending cuts, which could mean less money for schools, hospitals and other vital services. This report by the way came out as the G'ment launched its £5 billion identity card scheme .....

34% and growing

There really are a lot of us over 50's! In 2007 we already accounted for 34% of the total population in the UK. Expect far more targeting from marketers and advertisers who have also finally twigged that we also hold 80% of the UK's personal assets.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Default retirement age - has the penny finally dropped?

Well to 2010 at least. The new equality bill is creating problems as clearly kicking someone out of their job at 65 is to put it mildly discrimination based on age. Explaining the change in the timing of the review, Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: "Evidence suggests that allowing older people to continue working, unfettered by negative views about ageing, could be a big factor in the success of Britain's businesses and our future economic growth." Has the penny finally dropped? Well the TUC think so. The IOD think so. The Tories and Lib Dems think so. We are just left with the Taliban in the CBI still disapproving. They say its research had suggested that 81% of those who asked their employer to keep working had been allowed to do so. In which case why make such a fuss. Listening to their comments about the workplace, the workforce and management practices remind me of a living model of employment in the 1950's. Many legal cases are queuing up to be heard on this so abandoning this will also keep a great deal of money outside of lawyers pockets - which must be a good thing also!

Monday, 13 July 2009

Green happiness.

We have commented earlier about the recently established components of happiness and how the populations of western developed countries become less happy as they become more prosperous. Now research by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) has come up with the Happy Planet Index (HPI), which ranks nations by combining measures of their ecological footprint with the happiness levels of their citizens.
The Guardian (4/7/09) reports that Britain is in 74th place (out of 143 nations) and the USA is in 114th. The top ten places are dominated by Latin American nations, whilst the lowest places are filled by African countries.
The HPI was first calculated in 2006 and measures how much of the planet's resources a nation uses in relation to how long and how happy are the lives of its citizens. The index now covers 99% of the world's population. NEF claims the index is a much better way of looking at a countries 'success' than simply through a measure of GDP.
The HPI suggests for example that fast-growing economies such as the US, China and India were all greener and happier 20 years ago than they are today. NEF's lead researcher and author Samaah Abdallah observes "The HPI suggests that the path we have been following is, without exception, unable to deliver all three goals: high life satisfaction, high life expectancy and 'one-planet living.'"
Costa Ricans top the list because they report the highest life satisfaction in the world, they live slightly longer than the Americans, but have an ecological footprint that is less than a quarter of theirs.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Baby gloomers!

A recent study by the Aviva Company in the UK says that over 60% of the population over 50 is worried about having enough pension and savings to get them through retirement. Thus the newly coined term ‘baby gloomers’.

The Department of Health is to be publishing a Green Paper this month outlining a new government policy on social long term care. David Behan, UK Director General for Social Care, will be presenting on Wednesday morning, 23 July, during IAHSA’s 8th International Conference in London. That will be an opportunity to learn more about the Green Paper.

Over 50's drive down crime rates

Interesting to see that boomers are not just totally self preoccupied and materialistic. A new report from LloydsTSB reveals a growing link between age and crime rates, with the safest areas in Britain increasingly populated by the over-50s.

Britain’s emerging ‘safe havens’ include North Norfolk, Berwick-upon-Tweed and West Somerset, which experience half the crime suffered in other parts of the country and whose population includes more than two in five people (43 per cent) over the age of 50.

Rates of burglary and malicious property damage are particularly low in these ‘safe havens’, running at around 40 per cent less than national levels.

The study suggests that low crime is promoted by the community-orientated mindset of older people. The over-50s are five times more likely than the under-35s to know their neighbours personally and are far more inclined to report suspicious behaviour in their area.

This anti-crime ‘halo’ created by older people is aided by much higher membership of community groups. One in six (16 per cent) are active in Neighbourhood Watch schemes, compared to a tiny proportion of those in their twenties and thirties (5 per cent).

The waning community spirit of younger Britons is explained in part by more transient, urban lifestyles. Many young people say they see ‘no point’ in getting to know their neighbours and a hard core of one in twenty Londoners (7 per cent) has never met or spoken to anyone who lives nearby.

Phil Loney, managing director, General Insurance, Lloyds Banking Group said:

“Our findings demonstrate that younger people aren’t as community-minded as their parents and this mindset can have a big impact on safety and security in our neighbourhoods.

“Young people can learn a huge amount from the older generation about security consciousness. Taking a little time to look out for other people’s property and reporting anything suspicious can have a huge impact on burglary rates and anti-social behaviour."

Monday, 6 July 2009

Death of retirement

Baby boomers will abolish the current understanding of the concept of retirement. Those born between 1946 and 1964 are more ambitious for the future than any other generation before at this age.
This is taken from the latest report from the ongoing research from Standard Life into the over 50's. The most recent document is called “
Age Old Stereotypes”. This report is the latest in the ‘Death of Retirement’ series. Certainly I meet more and more people who simply are not interested in the traditional concept of retirement. Many are of course, in particular those on final salary pension schemes. But even they, after a year or so, begin to yearn for something more meaningful in life than leisure or being a carer for their grandchildren.

New booklet for over 60's

The Government has published a new booklet for those over 60 which pulls together all the help that is available to them in one place.

The 40-page booklet Real Help Now for over 60 provides information on everything from claiming Pension Credit, to getting help with fuel bills, and information on free IT courses that are available for people in that age group.

The booklet is available at:

It includes information on:

  • Help with pensions and benefits
  • Help with fuel bills
  • Help with savings and managing your money
  • Help for those on a low income
  • Help with money problems
  • Help with keeping your home
  • Help with skills and learning
  • Help with jobs

Canada begins to think about upping retirement age to 70

An influential Canadian think tank, having examined all alternatives, is suggesting upping the state pension age to 70 asap. With Lord Turner suggesting that his earlier report on pensions in 2005 was far too optimistic a momentum is growing to tackle the issue that people cannot be expected to be supported by the State for 20 - 30 years at the end of their lives.