Liberal Democrats leader Charles Kennedy has claimed that the retirement of the “baby boomer” generation ought to be treated as an “opportunity” and not as a “demographic timebomb“.
As Kennedy rightly noted, the management of retirement itself is set for a change. “Retirement should be seen as a process, rather than a single irreversible event,” he says.
However, he went on to say: “We need to change the rules so that people can carry on working part-time and still receive a pension from their company. This will allow people to gradually wind down their work with the comfort of some of the pension they have earned.”
I applaud Kennedy’s commitment to the continuation of people’s working lives, but instead of putting workers out to grass gradually rather than in one fell swoop, what is needed is a shift in employers’ attitudes towards older employees.
The pigeonholing of employees both young and old will exacerbate the skills crisis as the over-50s begin to outnumber the under-30s. What we have is an ageist “glass-ceiling” – and one that needs to be broken through.
Employers need to wake up to the fact that older staff can, in this health-conscious age, be just as dynamic as younger staff. This is the generation that drove business forward during the technological revolution. These employees are not afraid of a challenge and have experience on their side. Many want to continue to develop their careers and remain in high-level positions – not embrace their bus pass and slippers. Why should we waste their willing, experience and expertise?
Far from a demographic timebomb, the change in dynamics within the workforce offers employers an opportunity – and it is the HR professional’s job to ensure that this opportunity is not wasted.
Tim BradleyManaging director, Pecaso UK