HR Management & Compliance

Announcing a Special BLR Audio Conference: The Challenges of an Aging Workforce

Solving the worker shortage by retaining your older workers brings many benefits, but an aging workforce also raises several challenges. An April 25 audio conference will tell you what you need to know.

To anyone charged with filling office seats and production workstations, the numbers are frightening.

The Baby Boom generation, just starting to reach retirement age, was 76 million strong. The “Baby Bust” generation that follows it has just 44 million members. The one after that, the “Millennials,” is somewhat larger. Yet demographers still predict a shortfall of 35 million workers in the U.S. economy by the end of this decade.

Where are your workers going to come from? Who’s going to replace the older worker?

The answer, in an increasing number of cases, is … the older worker.

Companies are beginning to realize that one of the greatest assets they have is their pool of older employees. It makes sense. These workers are the carriers of institutional knowledge about their organizations—highly trained, thoroughly experienced, and mature in judgment—with a work ethic hard to beat. So after decades of dreaming up schemes to incentivize them to retire as soon as possible, companies are now scrambling to find ways to keep them. Among those techniques:

–More Flexibility in Working Arrangements. Employees itching for leisure-time after years of work still find tempting the prospect of bringing in some steady income and keeping their benefits. The solution: a compromise in which the employees work fewer hours but you keep their skills in your organization—and at a lower payroll cost, to boot. A variation of this is allowing older employees to telecommute, even from their second homes in warmer climes.

–Mentoring. An ideal way to use those fewer hours is to assign older workers to train and mentor their eventual replacements. This also brings an added measure of respect and recognition to these workers and provides a model younger employees can emulate.

–Partial Pensions. As of next January, a provision of the new Pension Protection Act will allow payment of partial pensions before retirement. See your pension professional about this.

But older workers also bring special issues. For this reason, BLR will be presenting a special 90-minute audio conference on April 25 on the subject titled The Challenges of an Aging Workforce. Some of the topics to be covered:

–How to audit and revise your policies as needed to be sure you are not violating age discrimination laws.

–How benefit plans need to be adapted to account for a larger percentage of older employees, including creative ways to address the issue of higher medical and life insurance costs that older workers often bring.

–The effect of older employees on workers’ comp injury rates.

–How to structure a severance agreement that complies with the Older Workers Benefit Protection Act when your workers finally do leave.

The presenter is Attorney Susan Fahey Desmond, a shareholder in the Gulfport, Mississippi, office of Watkins Ludlam Winter & Stennis, P.A. Desmond is a frequent speaker on issues of workplace discrimination and was named Outstanding Young Lawyer in Mississippi in 1996. The presentation will be followed by a live Q&A. Questions can be submitted by e-mail and phone.

As usual, one low fee trains as many staff as can fit around a conference phone. If you can’t attend, click the link below to preorder a CD of the session, to be shipped to you soon after it concludes.

Older Workers = New Challenges …
… in benefits, age discrimination risk, even workers’ comp costs. Learn to deal with them in BLR’s April 25 audio conference, The Challenges of an Aging Workforce. One low fee trains your entire staff. And if you can’t attend, you can preorder the conference CD. Click to read more.