Managing an ageing workforce

I spent yesterday morning at the launch of ‘Managing An Ageing Workforce’; this is a new report sponsored by the CMI (CharteredManagement Institute) in collaboration with CIPD (Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development).  Their survey looked at the response to changes in retirement age and retirement practices, and how prepared organisations were for these changes.  Since the survey was done, the coalition government has announced that the Default Retirement Age (currently 65) will be phased out.

I was lead author on the report, which was very much a multi-way collaboration.  Retirement is a complex business.    On the one hand,  pension limitations drive people to work longer; on the other, the recession has led to companies searching for ‘natural wastage’.   Older workers can be seen as reservoirs of deep experience, or as people past their peak. Old hands versus fresh blood.  It’s a challenge.

The report itself discusses perceptions and preparedness in some detail.  At the launch event, lack of organisational preparedness was the main theme.   There were some terrific case studies based on a diverse set of organisations.

One final comment: the discussions reminded me of earlier debates on maternity leave.   Retirement, like maternity leave, is often handled on a highly individual basis.   Legislation sets the parameters of what is possible, but eventual plans are often individual and idiosyncratic, based in some part on the value that the organisation places on the individual.  Like maternity, retirement involves a huge identity shift; and (like maternity) it can be a difficult subject for individuals to discuss in advance.   Publications like this one do a very useful job in helping us have those conversations.

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