Retire biases against older workers

Retire biases against older workers

Seniors are a valuable source of manpower when they are equipped with the right skills and expertise.

An ageing population presents an opportunity, not a challenge, as age is not a barrier to gainful employment.

Making seniors more employable helps them stay in the workforce longer, so the official retirement age can be raised beyond 62. But this is possible only when employers and employees change their mindsets.

Employers need to know the benefits of hiring older workers, and employees who are keen to stay in the workforce must be ready to upgrade their skills.

In his letter ("Redesign jobs to keep seniors employed"; last Wednesday), Mr Yeow Hwee Ming called for job redesigns so older workers can stay employed for as long as possible.

Jobs that require a higher level of physical work can be redesigned through job sharing, where procedures are broken down into several steps and shared among workers.

Another option is flexible employment, such as part-time work or shorter working hours.

Studies have shown that older workers not only tend to be conscientious and customer-oriented, but are also good role models for their younger colleagues. They are generally more committed and motivated, which reduces staff turnover and recruitment costs.

While some bosses are concerned about the productivity and performance of older workers, other organisations already recruit them.

For example, McDonald's hires seniors to man the counters, clear trays and so on. Proper skills training ensures these workers can perform well in their jobs and serve customers professionally.

Only when employers are ready to accept senior workers and willing to redesign their jobs to match their skills will more jobs be created for them.

Letter from Arnold Chua Chee Keong

This article was published on April 15 in The Straits Times.

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