Creative employers solve age-old conflict

generations saw their ancestors work until they dropped. Today’s generation
have made it quite clear they are not prepared to accept the same deal,
however, planning to retire early to enjoy the good life.

with changing demographics, lifestyles and poor pension provision, these
ambitious plans have little chance of materialising.

faced with an ageing population, need to find ways of keeping us in work.
Employees, many having families later in life, need to find ways of earning for
longer. And staff with no family ties need to find ways of funding their
lifestyles into old age.

with the increasing costs of pension provision and poor performance of pension
funds, both need to find ways of getting the best value out of their investment.

costs of pension schemes are forcing employers to close their final salary
schemes. Those who recognise the need to continue to provide an acceptable
pension have opened up either a career-average revalued earnings scheme or
defined contribution scheme – meaning they can lower their contribution,
provide a reasonable employee benefit and manage the long-term risk of their
schemes by shifting some of it to the employee.

even bigger challenge is the retention of experienced staff. Those who want to
carry on working are making ever-increasing demands on employers to help find
work-life balance.

existing legislation can be used as an excuse not to do anything creative, better
employers are breaking new ground – either removing or extending their
retirement ages, introducing career breaks and flexible working practices for
everyone. They are seeing a rise in both new graduates and staff over 50 and
benefiting from reduced turnover and training costs.

age discrimination looming in 2006, the more creative employers will benefit
from valuing ability rather than age and will have trialled many of the new
ways of working that will be forced upon us in the future.

you have already made these changes and feel confident enough to wait for the
inevitable, think again. What about your age and service-related benefits such
as holidays, absence and redundancy payments – not forgetting your position on
salary management, pay progression and training policies. Claims for direct or
indirect discrimination await for your decision.

& Spencer won the Department for Work and Pensions Award for Age Positive
at Work at the Personnel Today Awards 2002 for removing the mandatory retirement
age of 65, allowing valued employees to continue working on the same terms and
conditions of employment. This helps us retain experienced people and that
makes good business sense.

Keating, Head of people proposition, Marks &Spencer

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