After the Alexandra Hospital case discussion, I felt that most companies would have some capacity to hire matured workers, with the defining factors being the companies’ attitude and perception towards the matured workers. However, after experiencing two Human Resource Internships, I feel that there are more issues to consider.
1. More re-employment for jobs which younger generations shuns
As I glance through the companies being featured for embracing the matured workforce (Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment, 2010), I realised that half are in the government sector whereby they are setting an example for the public sector to follow suit. While the other half made up of private companies in the transport, fast food and hotel industry, which requires low skilled labour, especially so with the tightening on foreign labour by the government in 2010 (Yahya, 2013). Well-educated Singaporeans are less willing to drive buses, clean tables and make the beds.
I personally experienced it, as I am a diploma graduate in Hospitality and Tourism Management; most of my classmates, like me, who are trained to work in hotels and restaurants, ended up furthering their studies in another area. With the younger generations being unwilling to do the job, these companies are forced to turn to foreign labour and matured workers. And that, I have a friend whose mother was not educated, at the age of 56 with back issues, she was delighted to be given the chance to do housekeeping at The Amara Hotel and it was a win-win situation for both parties. She has been re-employed several times by the hotel due to her hardworking attitude. However, if all of my classmates, who are trained in this field, applied for the job, would she be even given the opportunity?
2. Unionised companies face more pressure in re-employment
During my internship at PSA Marine, I managed to sit in for several union meetings and through that, I felt that unions does have great influence on the management, provided that the management sees the importance of how maintaining positive industrial relations affects job satisfaction and employee’s commitment. PSA Marine offers re-employment to matured employees, with a pre-requisite of the doctor’s approval during annual medical check-ups. If they were to fail, the union will come in to negotiate for a job redesign that requires less physical work and to maintain the harmonious relations, unionised companies have to handle every single case with care and all these negotiation requires time and effort.
However, it led me thinking as to how many jobs can the HR redesign? With the increase in matured workers, the demand for such jobs will far exceed the supply and there will be a point whereby companies will not be able to provided these matured workers suitable jobs. It is extremely critical when these matured workers possess either little skills or physical skills, which cannot be translated to the office environment. Therefore, before it reaches that juncture, companies could offer pre-retirement counselling or planning every five years once their employees reach 50 and motivate them to pick up new skills.
3. Blue-collar vs. White-collar matured workers
There are matured workers in both white and blue-collar jobs. Nonetheless, I feel that white-collar workers are more fortunate because they are working in an environment that age does not necessarily hinder them, but instead, the profound knowledge they have gathered over the years gives them an advantage in being able to coach the younger generations. I know of many senior managers at PSA Marine and senior partners at Deloitte who are neither ready to retire, nor is the company willing to let them go.
However, it is somewhat opposite for the blue-collar workers, as most of their jobs require manual labour; if there are many younger and stronger individuals interested in their jobs, these matured workers, whose age affects their physical capabilities, could be replaceable. Therefore, they should either be equipped with different skillsets or be an expert in their current skill that they are needed by the company to provide training to new employees. However, sometimes it boils down to an individual’s personality and attitude to keep his job. I saw a video about a 102-year-old man still working at Wal-Mart because he wants to stay active and customers respect him for that.
4. Nudges for hiring matured workers & re-employment
With the aging population, there are plenty of societal pressures. The government and unions provides funding and award recognition to encourage re-employment. Media commercials and advertisements that features matured workers knowing their employment rights, the benefits of hiring them, as well as posters featuring their contributions (Ministry of Manpower, 2015). Our families and relatives who are matured and unemployed could be an unintentional nudge for us to give matured individuals a chance at work.
1. Wal-Mart’s 102-year-old employee:
2. Work-right video featuring matured workers knowing their rights:
3. Benefits of hiring older workers:
- Ministry of Manpower. (2015, January 14). WorkRight. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from Ministry of Manpower: http://www.mom.gov.sg/employment-practices/employment-rights-conditions/workright/Pages/default.aspx
- Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment. (2010). Leading Practices for Managing Mature Employees. Retrieved February 10, 2015, from Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment:http://www.tafep.sg/sites/default/files/Publication%20-%20Leading%20Practices%20for%20Managing%20Mature%20Employees_0.pdf
- Yahya, Y. (2013, February 28). Foreign Labour Curbs Raise Concerns. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from STJOBS: http://www.stjobs.sg/career-resources/hr-updates/foreign-labour-curbs-raise-concerns/a/107807