The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in the UK has an answer to the retirement crisis: scrap the idea of retirement. The CIPD, which is supporting an Age Positive week between 2 and 6 December, says it has long campaigned to encourage organisations to employ more older workers. It believes a mandatory retirement age is outdated, and at odds with the UK age discrimination legislation which will come into force in 2006.
“Many organisations are still stuck in a mindset that older workers are past it or they believe that older workers should be at work all the time or not at all,” says Dianah Worman, CIPD Adviser on Diversity. “This is very shortsighted – we know that people are very often willing to be flexible in the last few years of their working lives and organisations would benefit tremendously from the skills and experience of these experienced workers. There are many examples of employers who have already recognised this – they know that skills shortages mean it is critical to hold on to talent. A change in attitudes towards older workers is required – this is why the Age Positive Campaign is so important. The campaign shows that ‘age positive’ employers enjoy lower staff turnover rates, lower absenteeism and workers with higher levels of motivation and efficiency. While the legislation is on the way, it’s not enough – we need to change company cultures and will continue to press home the message that ageism is bad news for employers and employees. “Astutely, the CIPD also sees the present Inland Revenue rules as a major block on providing more flexible pension provision. “Age diversity, work life balance and pensions are now part of the same agenda and we are urging employers to think creatively about how they can manage these issues ,” says Worman. These are nice ideas. After all, retirement was invented a century ago as a form of industrial discipline, and no longer bears any relation to real life. And one reason firms with defined benefit pension plans don’t keep older workers are that it costs too much to retire them.