Managing the Ageing Workforce in the East and the West

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(14 chapters)

Prelims

Pages i-vii
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Abstract

There has been a growing interest amongst academics, researchers employers and governments/policymakers on ageing workplaces and workforces. As populations age and pension ages rise, older workers are finding themselves having to delay or postpone their retirement and organisations are looking for ways to enable them to do so in sustainable work. Workplace ageing is impacting both European and Asian societies and governments and employers are taking nationally specific approaches to age-related human resource management, social and public policies. In Europe, national governments are being led by the European Union in developing social and public policies to support older workers in maintaining employment through lifelong learning, flexible working, health management and job rotation. Tiger economies have focused on the ‘working pensioner’ pension rules which enable older workers to phase into retirement. China is facing rapid ageing but still maintains early retirement as a way to help older workers move out of physically and mentally demanding work. In addition to providing an outline for the remainder of the book, we also present a survey of older employees undertaken in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong which explores experiences in work, workplace relationships, skills and retirement plans. The survey is used as a common resource for the remaining chapters.

Abstract

This chapter discusses the concept of productive ageing in Japan and Poland. Productive ageing is defined as any activity by older people which produces goods or services, whether paid or not. Productive ageing is slightly more narrowly defined than active ageing in so far it is focused on economic activity whereas active ageing covers a broader array of social activities. The chapter discusses activities of governments and employers in these three economies in promoting economic activities. The relative success of the Japanese economy in sustaining relative high levels of older employment is the result of active government interventions both in terms of adjusting pension policies to support working pensioners and intervening in employer practices. In Poland, government has struggled to raise older workers’ participation rates by raising pension ages and promoting older employment. In both countries, governments are recognising the economic impact of ageing demographics on the respective societies, but have had different levels of active involvement in intervening in employer practices. Finally, this chapter initiates a broader discussion of the situation in the discussed area not only in Poland, but in other countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

Abstract

This chapter explores whether and how does the interplay of institutional context and management interventions lead older workers to delay retirement in Germany, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. The most important factors that influence retirement plans are placed on three analytical levels: the individual, the workplace and the institutional levels. It explores the importance of these factors and their cross-national variation in three different countries, namely Germany, the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. Using three national datasets we explore the relationship between the aforementioned factors via descriptive statistics and linear regression models. Institutional regulations seem to matter for retirement plans. But within countries, plans show varying patterns across social groups (lower educated, financially disadvantaged). The comparative design does not allow analysing specific institutional features directly, but findings are indicative for the fact that individuals take institutional frameworks into account when planning retirement transitions. The findings call for regime-specific solutions and future policies, for example, age-friendly workplace conditions and opportunities for requalification and mobility in Germany, rising retirement ages and greater financial security via more generous universal pension rights in Hong Kong and the United Kingdom.

Abstract

Financing retirement is an important aspect of later life that is related to overall healthy living and wellbeing. Very little is known about the attitudes of people towards their individual future retirement plans, accrued savings or even finances once they are into old age. There are no comparative studies across geographical regions that may help with understanding the complex behaviour of individuals and social norms. This chapter examines how life in retirement in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong is financed while also capturing regional disparities. This study uses data collected from primary sources in both territories. Quantitative analysis was carried out in order to answer key research questions. The findings suggest that employees plan to work longer than their actual retirement age and are not prepared for retirement whereas educated and higher income groups generally have savings plans in place to finance their later lives. These findings have significant implications for organisations and policy makers.

Abstract

We discuss workforce management, related to those aged 50+ , in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Korea. With international competitiveness becoming increasingly crucial, retaining the ‘right’ mix of employees to achieve strategic organisational goals is likely to determine organisational success. However, we argue that workforce management is not only influenced by organisational-level strategy but also by national institutional and sectoral policies. Decisions on whether and how to retain older workers are therefore (co-)determined by institutional incentives and barriers to doing so.

We find that British and Korean governments have legislated in favour of extended working lives and, hence, the retention of ageing workforces. In the United Kingdom, pension eligibility ages are being increased and in Korea mandatory retirement age has been raised to age 60. While changes to the UK pension systems leave individuals with the (financial) risks associated with extended working lives, the Korean government tries to protect individuals from financial hardship by enabling them to remain longer in their primary career. However, whether and how government regulation plays out depends on how organisations react to it. The Korean discussion, in fact, shows that there might be leeway: organisations might continue to externalise their employees early framed as honourable, or voluntary, early retirement, which might not be in the interest of the individual but very much in the interest of the organisation. It therefore appears as if the retention of ageing staff is not (yet) considered to be of strategic importance by many organisations in these countries.

Abstract

This chapter discusses how trade union structuring and organisation in the West and Asia shapes how they respond to government and employer pressures to extend working life. Class-based solidarity building in the West should lead to unions protecting employment and pension rights by mobilising members to defend the ‘right to retire’ while campaigning for protections of all older workers. Enterprise unionism in Asia, on the other hand, should mean that unions use their close relationships with government and employers to protect the job security of core employees and mobilise company-based solidarity. Drawing on the survey data, expectations and awareness of union members and non-members are compared in the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. It is shown that British union members have a greater understanding of their employment rights and retirement savings while in Hong Kong union membership correlates with better understanding of company HRM policies.

Abstract

It is estimated that we spend at least a third of our working lives in the workplace and the duration of this, due to the extension of working lives through legislative changes and increased pension ages, is set to increase. Ageing of the workforce is a growing concern but health and safety issues cannot be used as an excuse for not employing older workers. A healthy workplace is one where the risks are managed and where workers and their managers work together to improve the work environment and protect the health of the workers. Furthermore, linking this to personal health resources and the local community can improve the health of all involved. Within the workplace this includes both the psychosocial and physical work environment. To create a healthy workplace there is a need to ensure risk management measures are in place and our older workers participation in risk assessment and risk reduction programmes. In addition to this, targeted occupational health promotion programmes may be beneficial. There are few integrated policies with regard to age and work but research does identify good practice, including participation of employees in change measures, senior management commitment and taking a life-course approach. While there are challenges in relation to age-related change, the work ability concept can improve understanding. The use of a comprehensive approach such as Age Management can help employers who have a critical role in making the workplace age-ready.

Abstract

Older workers represent an increasingly important source of labour for organisations. Irrespective of age, a worker needs the appropriate skills and knowledge to be productive and to help the organisation achieve its strategic objectives. However, in many organisations, older workers are less likely to be offered training opportunities than their younger compatriots. This is due, in part, to negative stereotypical assumptions about older workers by managers. Learning and training are influenced by an individual’s career span and motivation. As a person ages, their work-related needs will change. There is a shift from growing and developing their career to a focus on security, maintenance, emotional satisfaction and mastery. Cognitive change takes place during a person’s life, and a gradual decline in primary mental abilities can be expected, but the notions of general decline are simplistic and misleading. A person is able to learn at any age and the older worker is capable of adjusting to changes in work. Many people assume that older workers are homogeneous but this is not the case. There are significant differences between older workers and these differences need to be acknowledged and understood. The organisational culture will affect learning and training opportunities for older workers, as will the attitudes of managers to older employees. Learning and training for older workers will also be influenced by the national culture and, in this chapter, selected Asian countries are discussed. The chapter concludes by offering recommendations regarding learning and training for older workers in organisations.

Abstract

United Kingdom and China face both similar and dissimilar challenges in managing eldercare. These challenges are centred around demographic change, caregiving roles and care facilities, work–family conflict and work flexibilities, employment rights, culture norms in caring for the elders and the welfare state. This chapter demonstrates the status quo of each of these challenges in managing eldercare, from both the East and West perspectives. Aside from the challenges, opportunities also emerge. More support services are needed for elders with activities of daily living (ADL) or instrumental activities of daily living. Institutional care is in great demand in China, despite the traditional value of caring for elders at home. Caring for elders with cognitive disabilities has also won attention. In the United Kingdom, elder caregiving issues are focused on older workforce, grandparent caregivers and long-term consequences of combining employment and care in the workplace. Compared to Hong Kong and United Kingdom, mainland China has more space to improve on adapting flexible work hours and promoting employment rights of workers. ‘Sandwich’ carers and women caregivers were given special attention in our discussion. At the end of the chapter, results from a survey studying older employees who are also caregivers were also presented.

Abstract

Ageing demographics are impacting employers around the world and, for many organisations, there are strong business reasons to develop strategies for managing the age profiles of their workplaces. Societal ageing is not necessarily bad news for business: older workers can be a valuable resource for employers in terms of skills, in-house knowledge and flexibility. Further, as populations age, businesses are delivering goods and services to an ageing market, and older workers can be a valuable resource. While ageing demographics can provide opportunities for the business community, there are significant challenges facing employers. For example, balancing the career interests and expectations of older and younger workers will necessitate new approaches to workforce planning, performance management and team building. As skilled workers become more scarce, employers need to also find ways to make better use of the talents and capabilities of older unemployed people. This chapter is written by representatives of employer networks in Europe and Asia. We discuss innovative approaches to age diversity of organisations on both continents. These include approaches to phased retirement, lifelong learning, flexible retirement and mentoring. In the final section, we suggest a research agenda which will generate practical knowledge for businesses which want to better manage workplace ageing. A business-focused research agenda includes improving the understanding of generations in the East and West, the intersection of age and other forms of diversity, lifelong learning, joblessness and providing the business case for businesses of different forms.

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About the Authors

Pages 267-270
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Index

Pages 271-285
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Cover of Managing the Ageing Workforce in the East and the West
DOI
10.1108/9781787146389
Publication date
2017-11-07
Book series
The Changing Context of Managing People
Editors
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
ISBN
978-1-78714-639-6
eISBN
978-1-78714-638-9