Anheuser-Busch Briefing Center, U.S. Chamber of Commerce
1615 H St NW, Washington, D.C.
Registration and Breakfast: 8:00 a.m.-8:30 a.m.
Aging is a reality in today’s developed economies. As Harvard Business Review’s David Bloom and David Canning write, “Responding effectively to longer lifespans will require changes in business practices and public policies.”
The authors propose a number of policy changes, such as more flexible retirement guidelines and pension plans that capture the gains from (rather than be captive to) our longer lives. Their suggestions though for what companies should do in reply are well worth reading in full:
“Business practices also require prompt attention. First, attitudes need to change. Older workers are often seen as a burden, with younger candidates preferred in recruitment decisions. But in economies where knowledge rules, the experience of older workers grows in value. Employer surveys commonly reveal that workers over 60 are seen as more experienced, knowledgeable, reliable, and loyal than younger employees. Practice should synch up with that perception.
Older employees who wish to keep working may demand flexible roles and schedules. Allowing more part-time work and telecommuting will entice older workers to stay on, extending their careers by placing lighter burdens on them. Allocating demanding physical tasks to younger employees will produce a similar benefit (and potentially reduce health care costs arising from workplace accidents).
Ongoing training, meanwhile, will help older workers master new skills as the economy changes. And employees’ longer working lives give companies the benefit of greater productivity gains from their training investments.
Investing in the health of all employees enhances productivity and avoids unnecessary costs as the workforce ages. Wellness programs produce healthier employees at all ages; on-site clinics save workers time and focus care on prevention and early disease detection, which also lowers costs. Last, it is believed that seniority-based pay sometimes exceeds performance at the latter stages of the life cycle. In these circumstances bringing pay and performance (properly assessed) into closer conformity would likely ease corporate norms surrounding age at retirement.”