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Pandemic Forces Early Retirement in Over 50s
August 17, 2020
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An estimated 198,000 workers over the age of 50 dropped out of the workforce entirely between March and May this year, suggesting that economic pressure on employers is forcing many into an early retirement.

In analysis of the latest ONS data, recruitment firm Rest Less found that the over 50s, of all other age groups, experienced the sharpest rise in economic inactivity for this period.

This means that rather than being unemployed, people had left and were no longer seeking work due to leaving to care for someone, studying, illness or retiring.

For December 2019 to February 2020, 13.9 million people over 50 were regarded as economically inactive by the ONS. Between March and May this year, this number rose by 1.4% to 14.1 million.

By comparison, the economic inactivity level of those aged 25 to 34 declined by 1% to 1.6 million in March to May 2020, and inactivity in 18 to 24-year-olds declined 0.8% to 1.6 million.

The data adds to concerns that the government’s support schemes are overlooking other key areas of the workforce. ONS analysis from May this year also showed an increase in the number of over 50s making Universal Credit (UC) claims.

Over 50s that have left the workforce will be unable to claim their state pension until the age of 66, and an unstable job market may leave them with little options for employment, so UC or independent savings may be the only options available to them.

According to other recent findings from the Aegon Center for Longevity, 73% of UK employees are offered a retirement plan by their employer yet just 30% have a backup plan.

Rest Less founder Stuart Lewis said: “In the wake of the toughest job market in decades, there has been a significant rise in the number of workers over 50 who have lost hope in finding a job and feel forced into an early retirement that many simply cannot afford.”

He warned that, with the furlough scheme ending in October, the situation for the over 50s could be worsened in months to come.

He added: “Sadly, these numbers are simply the canary in the coal mine, we expect this to leave a permanent scar on this generation and their employment prospects.”

Speaking to HR magazine, Lewis urged people leaders to consider the benefits of employing diverse age groups.

He said: “Workers in their 50s and 60s bring a huge amount to the workforce, such as knowledge, experience and great people skills. We see tremendous benefit in having age diverse teams of both young and old working together. This leads to great diversity of thought and experience, but also improves overall workplace happiness.

“Over the last 10 years, the over 50s have been the driving force of economic growth, responsible for nearly 80% of all of the UK’s employment growth. Losing them early from the workforce means we risk losing essential skills and a key growth dynamo to help drive us out of this recession.”

Jamie Mackenzie, director at Sodexo Engage Topic, said it’s important that employers do not forget the value over 50s bring to the workplace.

He said: “They’ve had the years to build knowledge and expertise that can support both the leadership and wider team – particularly at a time when companies need to stand out in a challenging market.

“They are known to be more committed and loyal, so from a business continuity standpoint, it makes sense to not overlook this age group when recruiting. It’s also important to take a look at any biases currently in the system, meaning that older employees are at a disadvantage.”

The Centre for Better Ageing found in 2018 that nearly a quarter of businesses (24%) are under-prepared for the challenges of an ageing workforce, and only about one in five employers are actually discussing their strategies for managing these workers.

Mackenzie added: “To unlock the potential of employees regardless of their age, businesses must look at understanding how their current policies are meeting the needs of staff, so that everyone can come to work as their best self and be as productive as possible.”

Creating a Learning Culture, Where Individuals Can Perform Their Best
April 14, 2020
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Why is it important we keep learning?  Whether we like it or not, we are learning every day:  it might be a new way of buying a product or using a phone that has updated technology. All this change and innovation means we need to embrace learning. BY Kirstin Furber

The world we are living in is complex, competitive, fast and busy. In such an environment, it’s critical organisations focus on learning and constantly develop their capability. Many organisations have adapted their learning model from one of traditional classroom teaching to a blended learning approach including face to face presentations, coaching and learning whilst doing. 

These methods embed learning quickly and fit better in busy workdays. There are also some skills we can’t go on a course to learn, especially in digital space, as the work has not been done before and therefore the learning is very much on the job, through trial and error.

With the ability to learn its critical for organisations to remain competitive, adapt and stay ahead of the competition, how do we create a learning environment that supports individuals being their best? With the five characters of human culture as a foundation, I believe companies need to focus on the following five areas:

1. Purpose: Purpose provides organisations with a direction, a mission to get behind, and the opportunity to communicate how each employee’s role contributes to that purpose.  A clear purpose also provides ‘guard rails’ and focus.  When everyone is learning, creating new ideas, and developing as individuals and as a group, it’s easy to get off track. Having a clear purpose that everyone understands and buys into means that ideas can flourish ‘on strategy’ and be translated into action

2. Authentic Leaders: We know leaders are important role models, in everything they do and I have blogged before about the importance of authentic leadership.  Leaders have an opportunity to create an environment of learning through ‘bringing the external in’ and by ensuring the organisation does not get too internalised. Reading and sharing, participating at conferences, bringing speakers in to contribute new ideas and perspective, and by creating an environment of curiosity where it is safe to ask questions, is the perfect environment for learning to take place.  Remembering that they should always be open to learning also enables leaders to learn from their teams. After all, one of the best ways to learn is to have your thinking challenged. It’s important to be open to doing things differently and to update your perspective as the world changes. Authentic and vulnerable leaders who admit they don’t know everything, keep learning. 

3. Telling your story: Learning is about sharing and translating lessons learned into every day operational best practice.  Organisations that provide ways for individuals to share their learning with others both informally, e.g. at team meetings, and formally (through films, podcasts, or via company intranets) allow this translation of learning into the organisation to happen in the most organic way possible. This helps learning embed in the organisation.

4. Diversity: We all learn differently, and its critical organisations taken this into account. Some of us like to read about a subject in-depth, form views and then debate, others like a planned learning approach with many different forms of content: video, discussions, face to face sessions. The reflectors among us can get annoyed with a discussion group full of extroverts’ whist the extroverts are feeling very much in their comfort zone. Companies should enable time for reflection and processing as part of learning as well.  Cultures, physical and mental health, and learnings styles all need to be considered alongside how best to use technology to customise learning so it lands well-enabling people to engage with it for maximum impact.

5. Workplace: Finally, where do you learn best?  Traditional learning used to always be offsite, but with budget cuts and because of people’s productivity suffering if they’re out of the office for long periods of time, this has changed. Training has moved to ‘bite-sized’ learning with different views on timing, ideally no more than 90-minute learning sessions, for individuals to learn best, as outlined in this article.  Some of us like to learn at home, in the cafe, with others, in the office.  With learning being produced, delivered and customised through a variety of learning platforms, opportunities for where and when employees can learn are expanding. Some of us are better at learning in the morning, others in the evening, we should factor that into our learning approach. What is the best period of time to learn? To brainstorm? To make a decision?  To create an environment where employees can learn, all of these factors need to be considered when developing a curriculum.

A learning environment does a number of things: it builds capability to drive performance and helps attract the best because of an attractive development offering. It also helps retain the best because they grow and develop by utilising new found skills in a number of ways, especially when promotions or pay rises aren’t an option.

Creating an environment where it is easy to learn goes a long way to creating an environment where people can be their best selves at work because an environment where everyone can learn is one where everyone can flourish.

Kirstin Furber – Chief People Director of ClearScore

Australian Careers Service: How Will AI Change the Way We Work?
September 6, 2019
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It’s estimated that around 45 per cent of jobs in the current workforce will be automated within 20 years.

Although rapid progression of technology has made (and will continue to make) many jobs obsolete, it’s also creating new ones.

Research conducted by a cohort of University of Melbourne professors indicates that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is being used to replace cognitive tasks — that is, any tasks that requires a person to mentally process new information, retrieve information and to use it to retract information.

A 2013 report from the University of Oxford said that administrative support workers and even transportation and logistics occupations can and will be substituted by computers in the future — think telemarketers, clerks, cashiers, bus drivers and even hospitality workers.

According to research conducted by Ford, cognitive tasks are more likely to be replaced by AI. But rather than panicking about robots taking our jobs, we can look at the opportunities that technology brings to tomorrow’s workforce. A 2017 report by Commonwealth bank stated that ‘the future of work will be primarily about how people can collaborate effectively with machines to do what neither can do alone’. 

The advancements of technology offer career opportunities across all sectors. The University of Melbourne has done extensive research on how AI will influence the world and predicts that the next generation will be the most educated yet, which will lead to accelerated growth in jobs. Josh Bersin, principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, said that instead of eliminating jobs, AI is eliminating tasks and is creating new jobs for humans. These jobs require traits that robots haven’t mastered: empathy, communication and problem-solving.

Professor Tim Miller from University of Melbourne says that there are still plenty of jobs that won’t be handed to the rise of robots. Leadership positions, childcare and social workers, politicians, teachers, CEOs and doctors are here to stay, although they will inevitability evolve with advancements in technology. 

Machine learning, deep learning and other AI technologies are being incorporated into many different industries. If anything at all, robots are helping humans and making their jobs easier to manage. We’re already seeing this take place: cranes are helping humans to carry big loads, and driverless tractors and drones help humans with crop spraying. Factories already depend on AI to perform labour-intensive tasks.

AI can also assist in making effective decisions. Machines have higher predictive power to make better consumer decisions because of analytic tools that can automate and scale data. With trends consistently influencing customer expectations, there is a need for more data-driven insights.

Increasingly, more jobs are focusing on data to manage and implement strategic initiatives to provide better solutions. The University of Melbourne predicts that technology development has created a demand for more jobs in diverse occupations such as urban planning, construction, social work, transport and environmental science.

UK Workers Most Likely to Feel Discriminated Against in Europe
June 18, 2019
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New research from ADP ‘The Workforce View in Europe 2019’, reveals that reports of discrimination are highest in the UK where more than a third (38%) of respondents say they have been targeted, compared to a European average of 30%.

It seems young people are also particularly affected, with 49% of UK workers aged 25-34 reporting feeling discriminated against.

The ADP Workforce View in Europe 2019 surveyed over 10,000 employees in the UK, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain, delving into how employees feel about issues in the workplace.

Despite numerous high-profile scandals, such as the #MeToo movement, bringing discrimination and workplace harassment into the public eye, the findings indicate it is still an issue in the UK. Read more