The CIPD has just published a report entitled ‘Employee Outlook: Focus on employee attitudes to pay and pensions: Winter 2014-15′ (and available to download from this link on their website). It explores a number of very interesting topics and is certainly worth a careful read.
One of the key areas covered is that of changing work and retirement patterns. The Report finds that ‘respondents expect that they will retire from paid employment when they are 66 years old. Those aged between 18 and 34 think they’ll carry on until age 67, while those aged between 45 and 54 predict that they’ll retire at 65. Among those aged 55 or over, the forecast retirement age is 66, suggesting that those nearing retirement are more likely to estimate a higher age.’ It goes on to examine the impact of gender, pay levels and sector on retirement age expectations, suggesting this remains a complex area.
Amongst the other interesting findings reported, a couple stood out, particularly given the debate at the recent OU Business Perspectives event.
For example, a recurring theme in the talks, for example, by Paul Deemer and Robyn Palmer (NHS Working Longer) and Martin Hall (BMW) was the challenges of effective performance management by employers and ensuring employee wellbeing across the working life. This was in the context of an ageing working population though I think it’s fair to say the view was that effective management should be in place regardless of employee age rather than something introduced specifically for, say, older workers.
So I was interested to see one of the headlines in the CIPD report relating to employee perceptions of performance management. ‘Employees also doubt whether their employer is good at assessing their performance (–14), their team’s performance (–15) or the performance of senior managers (–23), suggesting an explanation for the UK’s recent poor productivity record.’ This suggests there is work to be done improving performance management within organizations (as well as examining the relationship between employee perceptions and being ‘performance managed’).
The second area of note relates to reported differences in how employees over 45 say they are preparing for extended working lives. These preparations relate to ‘mind’ (courses, training etc) and ‘body’ (regular exercise, healthy diet). An interesting difference is reported: ‘as salaries increase, workers are more likely to focus on keeping their skills and knowledge up to date and less likely to focus on their exercise and diet. This may indicate lower-paid employees are more likely to be in jobs that require a reasonable level of health and fitness while higher-paid employees are in occupations that require levels of skills and knowledge. It may also reflect the limited opportunities that lower-salaried workers have to refresh or learn new skills and knowledge not associated with their current job.’ The report predicts that workers may in future be the focus of a collaborative approach between employers, employees and government to look after both their minds and bodies. This is likely to be a controversial issue which no doubt we will see debated in future.
Another first, I don’t think we’ve specifically covered anything age at work in relation to Hawaii before though I guess it’s a state within the USA. I also wonder however if the legal position in Hawaii might be different to other US states. This is an interesting case as I had thought that age discrimination in the States only covered those aged 40 and over but this relates to an engineer in his 30s. It may be that the settlement pre-empted any civil proceedings so might have been covered by a different set of local regulations.
In any event, the Maui News website recently covered this story concerning the settlement agreed in respect of an age discrimination claim bought by an engineer (Dustin Lee Moises) with Kauai’s water department. More details of the claim are provided in this item on the Garden Island website. The engineer alleged age discrimination against the former Department of Personnel Services (DPS) Director Malcolm Fernandez, along with claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress, in a claim lodged with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission in July 2012.
The basis of his claim as reported is that Moises was told he should not get a higher salary because of his age. He was reallocated to the position of principal project manager with a reduction in pay, and then downgraded to a waterworks project manager. Moises said he felt his age was taken into account in violation of Hawaii Revised Statutes, with the DPS not giving him sufficient credit for relative work and management experience.
The engineer receives a $125,000 settlement. I guess one of the reasons that the settlement is being reported is that Moises insisted on a non-confidentiality clause. The terms of settlement also include a requirement that the county conducts discrimination training for Heads of Department and supervisors.
Unless you’ve been under a stone you’ve probably heard about the wardrobe malfunction that tugged Madonna over on stage at last week’s Brit awards. But have you also been following how this has been reported? This item in The Guardian examines the media accounts of Madonna’s “fall”, asking when did falling over stop being one of life’s occasional vicissitudes and start being a sign that the endgame was approaching. Deborah Orr goes on to suggest that ‘this collective interpretation of a designer garroting as a “fall” is just part of an enduring obsession with Madonna’s age. Madonna is always being accused of trying to hide her age, to deny the reality of her age or failing to act her age.’
And indeed Madonna herself in a recent interview, reported here on the ContactMusic website, compared ageism to racism and homophobia, and said women in particular receive degrading remarks on the basis of their age. She is quoted as saying that “women generally, when they reach a certain age, have accepted that they’re not allowed to behave a certain way. But I don’t follow the rules. I never did, and I’m not going to start.”
Back to Deborah Orr’s commentary in which she finds Madonna a ‘more inspiring figure now, as she declares the sexual worth of women in their 50s, than she was when declaring the sexual worth of a woman aged 28′. Her conclusion (below) is I think a very pertinent contribution to a topic we’ve seen raised many times, namely the conflation of youth and female worth and how this affects both the representation of older women in the media as well as their fortunes in the jobs market.
‘The trouble with female sexual worth, even self-defined sexual worth, is that it’s seen as a youthful gift of nature, with transient value. A culture that prioritises female sexual worth is a culture that necessarily sees a large part of female identity as not just disposable, not just transient, but as inevitably guaranteed to self-destruct.’
As some of you may know, the Age at Work blog started back in 2011 based on our work at the Department of Organizational Psychology. Now, sometime later, Rebecca is returning to the Department to start her new job as a Lecturer.
The collaboration between Birkbeck, University of London and The Open University will therefore be continuing via Age at Work for the foreseeable future!
Last night several colleagues and I waited tentatively in our separate homes to begin The Open University’s live Business Perspectives webinar. We were joined by Martin Hall, Senior HR manager at BMW, who had also presented at the event in London the week before.
Predictably as the countdown to live began my technology failed but thankfully I was back on line a couple of minutes later! During the webinar we watched videos from the London event and our host, Peter Wainwright, then invited Martin and I to comment on what we had seen and address questions from the 75 participants who joined us to watch live. When not talking we also were able to interact with the participants via a text chat forum (actually we could technically have done it at the same time as talking but that was beyond my multi-tasking abilities).
So what themes emerged? Inevitably a lot of the discussion was driven by the videos of the different presentations which included summaries from the talks at the London event:
- Modern working environment (a CIPD perspective) – Peter Cheese
- Managing age diversity (a legal perspective) – James Davies
- Age in the automotive sector (a HR Managers’ perspective) – Martin Hall
- Working longer (a public sector perspective) – Robyn Palmer and Paul Deemer
There was a lot of chat about the issues of stereotyping both older and younger workers, of the challenges of effective performance management and of how to ensure wellbeing at work across the working life. Webinar participants shared their experiences of working with different ages and of being stereotyped themselves – with examples from both older and younger participants.
If you weren’t able to join live there will be an opportunity to catch up via the recording of the webinar which will be available via the Business Perspectives website.
Yes I missed it too as I was in bed with flu! But never mind, on Weds 25th Feb from 7pm you can join the live webinar which will include summary footage of the original event and the chance to discuss issues with an interactive panel.
You will need to register in advance to participate and all the details are available via The Open University website or you can go straight to the registration pages. If I can manage the technological multi-tasking I might try some live tweeting via @ageatwork otherwise I’ll be posting a summary on this blog after the event!
Back to youth (un)employment. The BBC News website features this item in which the National Union of Students calls for higher wages for apprentices (at least the national minimum wage) if the apprenticeship programme is to solve youth unemployment. It is reported to say that many apprenticeships are not financially viable, leading many to take another jobs at the same time.
This relates in part to the age-differentiated wages under apprenticeship schemes. The NUS claims that the apprentice minimum wage of £2.73 an hour for 16 to 18-year-olds, and 19-year-olds in their first year, is “exploitative” and doesn’t cover basic living expenses, arguing that apprentices cannot afford to travel to their place of work or study, or take time off sick.
It raises some interesting questions including the notion of incentives to employers to take on apprentices through being exempted from National Insurance payments for each apprentice they take on. Plus the low pay rates noted above (£2.73 an hour equates to £95 for a 35-hour week). Remenber our post a week or so ago about the Barclays’ over-50 apprenticeship scheme and the reader comment about whether this new scheme would be just another form of ‘cheap labour’ (from an older worker age group) for employer organizations?
The article refers to a report (whose focus is on the individual everyday experience of being a young apprentice) but there was no link from the BBC site/ After some hunting, I managed to find it here (called Forget Me Not) on a beta NUS website. It’s billed as seeking to ‘initiate a long overdue and serious debate over the state of support for apprentices, and lead to a commitment to removing the financial barriers which currently exist‘. It would certainly be interesting to hear more on the discrepancies between what students v apprentices can access such as bursaries and interest-free bank accounts for the former but not the latter; the article also mentions the impact on family budgets given how apprenticeships do not count as “approved” education or training courses in relation to child benefit for those 16 and over.
Here are details of an upcoming event that may be of interest to readers of this blog.
It’s part of the excellent TAEN / LSE Seminar series and focuses on Social Care and Ageing Worker Issues. It will take place on Tuesday 24th March 2015 at 2.30pm – 5.30pm at the LSE.
Full details are available here on the TAEN website. The seminar will address issues raised by research and current policy debates in this area, with a social care angle.
The confirmed speakers so far are:
- Sheila Barrett, Senior Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour, University of Greenwich Business School, who was involved in preparing the evidence base for TAEN’s recent European project with the GFTU on the employment conditions of older workers with incidental care responsibilities for family members.
- Debora Price, Senior Lecturer in Social Policy, Institute of Gerontology, King’s College, London who will share thoughts and research on funding social care and the political economy/money in later life and the implications of these issues for older workers/ageing workforces.
Well okay, its not quite that simple but this interesting piece “Last Call: The Age of Ageism” by John Bohlinger on the website ‘Premier Guitar’ unpacks some interesting statistics about age in the music industry which apparently proves that “older guitarists rule rock ’n’ roll”.
In particular John sets out the ages of some of the big touring successes in 2014: “Billboard list of 15 top 2014 tours: The Rolling Stones came in at No. 3, with an average age of 71. The Eagles—each member is well past his mid-60s—is right behind at No. 4. In the No. 6 slot is 72-year-old Paul McCartney, and 65-year-old Billy Joel is No. 11. Springsteen, also 65 but looking lots younger than Joel, hit No. 13. Coming in at No. 15 was Elton John at an impish 67. One Direction, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Bruno Mars, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Michael Bublé, and Luke Bryan round out the list. Which means that if you were on a top tour in 2014, you were a senior-citizen rocker, a pop act, or a thirtysomething country star who sounds like a rock act.”
This apparently disproves that 27 is the cut off age to have achieved success in the music industry – though I am fairly sure that many of those listed have been going sometime and probably had achieved success by that age. Perhaps this theory can only be proved if we can find a guitarist that only became successful when they were older – any suggestions?
Although the number of young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs) is reported to be falling (as here on the ONS website), it is still a newsworthy topic. A couple of local stories recently caught my eye. One warned that even with falling NEET numbers, we must not get complacent but should continue to support apprenticeship and traineeship schemes (here in the Harlow Star, focusing on Essex). Another focused on the Casey Report which found evidence of manipulation of NEET figures which were “consciously delayed… to positively affect the outcome of the monthly performance calculation” by Rotherham Council, as reported here in the Local Government Chronicle, suggesting the political sensitivity around high youth unemployment.
This week sees youth unemployment featuring in the general election campaign. The latest development is the announcement by David Cameron (reported here in The Guardian) that those aged 18 to 21 who have not had a job for six months would no longer be able to claim jobseeker’s allowance unless they start apprenticeship or complete community work. Those who undertake community work would be paid a youth allowance equivalent to the jobseeker’s allowance rate for young people.
The BBC News website compares this with Labour’s plan which is to promise the same group of people a guaranteed job, concluding that ‘both parties would want you to hear them caring deeply about the fate of young unemployed people, while making sure no one gets something for nothing’.
I expect we’ll hear more on this over the next few weeks.