“Singapore’s Ageing Challenge” – An Insight in future work culture by Hays

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Singapore's ageing population and their attendant healthcare needs is not only leading to increased demand for healthcare and life sciences professionals. It is also leading to an ageing workforce, which employers need to accommodate says Chris Mead, General Manager of Hays Life Sciences in Singapore.

Seven per cent of Singapore's population is currently over the age of 65 and by 2030 this will increase to 19 per cent, according to the Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Ageing Report. As our population ages, employers will become increasingly reliant on the contribution of workers aged 62 or over.

Add Singapore's re-employment law, which came into effect on 1 January 2012, and employers need to accommodate an ageing workforce. There are several practical steps any organisation can take to do this.

Age-friendly recruitment practices

As our population ages, age-friendly recruitment practices are essential. This means writing vacancy 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.

Cultural change

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  Others may assume their older colleagues have outdated skills or are preventing younger workers from progressing.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 in order to ensure a productive and successful multi-generational workforce.

Work/life balance

Various studies have shown that work/life balance is critically important in order 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

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.

Training

There is an unfortunate myth that older generations 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 mature age employees 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.

Remuneration

While the re-employment law makes no guarantee a mature age worker will get the same job at the same pay, we would encourage employers to consider the skills and experience that mature age workers possess and offer a competitive package based on this.

Motivation

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, over time, result in more employers recognising the value of mature candidates' stability, maturity, knowledge and continuity of employment.

Hays, the world's leading recruiting experts in qualified, professional and skilled people. Call +65 6223 4535 or email georgia.ronald@hays.com.sg

Hays would be Exhibiting at the 5th annual BioPharma Asia Convention 2012. If you would like to meet with their consultants and BD team to explore partnership opportunities, contact Rebecca Koh at rebecca.koh@terrapinn.com now to arrange a meeting today!

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