Rethink pay for older workers

by 19 Feb 2008

A MORE HOLISTIC approach to pay and reward is needed in the face of an ageing workforce, and organisations need to look across their financial and non-financial reward offerings to consider whether they are attractive to older workers.

With demographic changes and skills shortages making their mark, recent research from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) highlights the importance for employers to address the challenges presented by an ageing workforce to recruit, retain and engage talent.

The research examined what employers are doing to ensure that the way they reward and recognise individual and collective contribution is actually appealing to older workers.

While the research finds many examples of employers introducing initiatives to make their organisation more appealing to older workers, most have been introduced on an ad hoc basis to deal with specific issues. What is lacking is a systematic and integrated approach to reward that examines whether the pay and the financial and non-financial benefits are appealing to all individuals, irrespective of their age, race or gender.

“Employers are recognising the importance of an older workforce but this is being influenced by the law and what they can and can’t do, rather than what they should be doing,” said Charles Cotton, CIPD reward and employment conditions adviser.

“For instance, while employers have been examining pay progression, few have taken the opportunity to evaluate whether the way they structure pay is sufficiently flexible to meet individual aspirations across all age groups.”

When reviewing and revising their reward approach, Cotton said employers need to take the opportunity to examine whether how they reward their employees is appealing to older workers, as well as other groups.

The research, which was carried out on behalf of the CIPD by Cranfield School of Management, also warns employers not to neglect the training and development needs of older workers as this age group becomes an increasingly important part of the labour market.

“Possibilities for rewarding an ageing workforce are endless. Reward and HR professionals need to consider whether they are doing enough to motivate and retain employees of all ages, otherwise, they may discover in a few year’s time that they do not have the skills and experience that they need to sustain high-performance working,” Cotton said.

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