Towards age-friendly workplaces

Business Times, Monday, 14th November 2011

Is Singapore moving in the right direction with its mature workers?  What are the challenges of facilitating an age-friendly workplace and how can they be overcome?

In terms of directives set out by the government, I believe that Singapore is moving in the right direction with regard to mature workers.  In particular, the implementation of the Retirement and Re-employment Act, the first phase of which will take effect in January next year.  This is a good first step that gives eligible mature employees the option of working past the age of 62, and incrementally 65 and then 67.

I believe that the biggest challenge of facilitating an age-friendly workplace lies in changing the mindsets that employers and fellow employees – especially the younger ones – hold towards mature workers.  While it is important to recognise that mature workers bring with them extra years of valuable experience and they can still contribute to the workplace, these older workers may face limitations due to the nature of certain jobs or industries.  Thus, employers’ concerns regarding their productivity may be justified.

In addition, mature workers must be open to learning new things and be ready to adapt to, and not ‘lord’ over, younger workers with their age or ‘wisdom’ within the working environment.  Faciltating an age-friendly workplace will require a paradigm shift that can be achieved by enhancing awareness.  The onus falls on employers in implementing such company-wide initiatives, and to a certain extent, the labour movement, which can also do its part to effect such campaigns.  Indeed, this is an important issue we must address as we work towards becoming a more gracious and egalitarian society.

Ronald Lee
Managing Director
PrimeStaff Management Services Pte Ltd

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