Photo credit (above): Nick Harris | Flickr
By LAY HSUAN, LIM
Admit it. At the sign of gray strands of hair, most of us will freak out. Yes, we can try to hide physical signs of ageing as much as we can, but the fact remains that we cannot really fight this natural process.
On a serious note, the global ageing workforce phenomenon is one of the many challenges organisations are facing now, as a result of mass exodus of Baby Boomers when they retire from the workforce.
In The Economist, an article entitled “A Billion Shades of Grey” reported that over the next 20 years, the global population of those aged 65 and above will almost double, from 600 million to 1.1 billion.
Despite the ageing trend and increasing signs of socio-economic impact on different countries and industries worldwide, how are we responding to this trend?
In my humble opinion, as long as an individual is healthy enough to contribute to the country’s economy way beyond his/her retirement years, we really should encourage these mature workers to remain in the paid workforce.
After all, studies have shown that working until 65 and beyond can possibly delay the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The reason being that work keeps people physically active, mentally stimulated and socially connected.
As such, perhaps organisations should look beyond their physical signs of ageing and start looking up to them for their many WISE ways in the marketplace – Wisdom, Insights, Skills and Experience.
In particular, a greater focus on coaching and mentoring involving these mature workers can help an organisation bridge critical knowledge and talent gaps, while providing younger workers with valuable insights that can accelerate their careers.
At the same time, it is also vital for organisations to continue to provide opportunities and training for mature workers to keep them engaged and diversify their skills.
The golden years
At the home front, I guess more needs to be done to accommodate the graying workforce. The government ought to have the political will to consider enacting “The Silver Collar” employment legislation, as shared by Carol Yip, founder of Abacus for Money.
According to Yip, this re-employment legislation for retired people is meant to provide appropriate guidelines and regulate employers who want to employ retired persons for different kinds of industries.
Meanwhile, employers must be ready to make substantial changes to workplace and HR (human resources) policies.
As we cannot fight the ageing process, all we can do is embrace global ageism boldly and start making conscious effort to embark on this journey together.
Till then, here is a song excerpt by Fleetwood Mac, called Landslide, which randomly popped into my head while writing this:
“… But time makes you bolder, even children get older, I’m getting older too…”