With Singapore’s ageing population, there has been a growing proportion of older employees in the workforce. In fact, the labour force aged 60 and over has more than doubled over the past 10 years, from a mere 5.5% in 2006 to 13.1% in 2016. A similar story holds for employees aged 50 to 59. Combined with the effect of the retirement age being raised to 67, this proportion will only continue to increase.
Making up a sizeable portion of Singapore’s workforce and having much to contribute to your company, it is essential for employers to create an age-inclusive workplace to engage older employees and meet their needs. Here are some probable solutions to common challenges employers face when managing older employees.
Managing the Rising Cost of Employee Benefits for Older Employees
You may be wondering whether it is worth spending money on retaining your older employees, but consider this - for every $1 you spend on employee benefits for older workers, you reap a $3-$14 return. Furthermore, since the turnover rate of older employees (median tenure of 9.3 years) is much lower compared to younger employees, it may be more cost-effective for your company to retain older employees. A study conducted by the US Bureau of Labour Statistics found that training new employees may be more expensive than the health and insurance costs for older existing employees.
To manage these rising costs, consider the needs of your employees and address them in your employee benefits strategy. Older employees typically need to pay more attention to their health and so coverage for general practitioner visits, hospitalisation and dental in the form of groups plans are essential to them. Besides that, your company can offer more non-traditional health benefits to cater to the needs of older employees specifically. According to an Employee Health Benefits survey conducted by Mednefits, optical care was identified as an area that older employees wish to have more coverage. To meet the increasing demand for optical care amongst older employees, you could perhaps consider providing discounts or allowing employees to claim expenses related to optical care.
On the flip side, the importance of preventive healthcare should not be overlooked. Your company can provide annual health screenings for employees which will help alert them to early signs of any potential health problems. This will encourage your employees to gain a better understanding of their health and take preventive measures early on so that they will be less likely to have health complications in the future.
Your company can tap onto WorkPro’s Job Re-design Grant which provides funding support for companies to “create physically easier, safer and smarter jobs for older workers aged 50 years and above”. It helps companies introduce new technologies or automated workflows to increase efficiency. At the same time, employees will be freed up to take on more fulfilling roles which will increase their sense of ownership and motivation.
Out of 47 employees, Aerospace Component Engineering Services (Aces) has at least 10 workers above 50 years of age. Mr Mohsin, aged 73, is a technician that has been working at Aces for 10 years. With the grant, Aces redesigned Mr Mohsin’s job and introduced a new technology which gave Mr Mohsin a greater sense of job satisfaction and sped up the workflow process by about 25%.
Before you redesign jobs, ensure your older employees are equipped to use new technology
- Get the right person to teach them how to use the new technology so they feel more comfortable learning
- Honestly and clearly communicate to them the importance of the implementation of new technology to your company
- Help them understand their vital contribution to the success of the overall transition and that the value of their work increases with the integration of technology
This helps older workers transition to working with new technology more easily and smoothly, allowing your company to leverage on the best of both worlds. Besides implementing new technology to help older employees, you can also explore the possibility of creating positions for older employees to impart their knowledge and experience to the younger employees, helping to conserve institutional knowledge.
Being equipped with the knowledge of how to create an employee benefits plan is not enough. To fully tap on the potential of older employees, employers should take measures to create an age-inclusive workplace. This can be done through providing them with an employee benefits strategy that caters to their needs, re-designing jobs to make the workplace more suitable for them and equipping them with the know-how to use new technologies. When you do so, your older employees will definitely feel well-taken care of and grateful to you. This in turn will translate to them being more willing to put in their best effort, increasing productivity and output for your company.