Getting the most out of older workers Steps to support and engage senior employees
By Elizabeth Howell
The days of employees automatically retiring at the age of 65 are going the way of the three-martini working lunch. Canadians are living longer and healthier lives than past generations and are unwilling – or financially unable – to spend decades in retirement. Many keep working well into what was once considered traditional retirement years to stay active or build a nest egg.
It’s a trend the federal government is actively encouraging.
Starting in July, those eligible to receive Old Age Security pensions will see their payouts increase by 0.6 per cent for every month they delay receipt, up to a maximum of 60 months.
With senior employees sticking around longer, there are ways that workplaces can make the environment more inviting. Here are some tips from HR experts whose companies have a presence in Ottawa:
It’s discriminatory for an employer to assume a young woman will take time off to have children, points out Heather Cameron, an Ottawa associate at law firm Norton Rose Fulbright. Similarly, make sure not to underestimate other groups of workers. “You shouldn’t assume an older worker wants to wind down. They may want to gear up,” she says.
“Older workers may be more prone to injury,” says Ross Coyles, a Torontobased principal in Mercer’s human capital division. “The employer has to be more mindful of that, and quite frankly, develop more barrierfree kinds of environments.” In Ontario, many of these parameters are covered by following mandatory guidelines under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act.
Generally speaking, workers in their twenties and thirties are far more comfortable with social media and other impersonalized communication tools than their older counterparts, says Adam Reeve, marketing director of human capital management with Ceridian. At any rate, he adds, in-person conversations are essential to any workplace. “The most important decisions in business and personal life are done face to face, and that’s not a skill we want to lose in the workforce.”
ENCOURAGE A PHYSICAL BARRIER-FREE ENVIRONMENT.