Workforce Solutions: Elder-friendly Employment

The challenges of an aging population and manpower shortage are becoming apparent in Hong Kong. According to government statistics, the number of people aged 65 and above will surge from the current 1 million to 2.6 million by 2041 (Chart 1). Hong Kong's workforce is expected to decline from 2018 onwards; hence it is vitally important to consider how we can effectively utilise the elderly workforce.

As the largest employer, the government is planning to raise the retirement age for new civil service recruits from 60 to 65. Meanwhile, existing civil servants could continue up to the age of 65, subject to department heads' approval.

In an effort to respond effectively to the issue, employers in different sectors are also tapping into the supply of older workers to fill employment needs. Retired talent is making a comeback, lending a much needed helping hand in diverse roles. In an earlier interview with TVB Pearl Money Magazine, Ms. Diane Chan, Executive Director of Career Times Online Limited, revealed that nearly 60% of employers were willing to hire and retain older talent, provided that they were suitable for the job.

A recent survey jointly issued by Hong Kong Baptist University and CTgoodjobs finds that most older employees are considered to be active in the workforce and to have contributed to organisational wellbeing. Professor Randy Chiu, Director of the Centre for Human Resources Strategy and Development, emphasised that older talent can be an effective force because they bring their knowledge, experience and personal relationships to benefit their companies.

It is also suggested that HR professionals should be more flexible and creative when recruiting older talent by offering different employment types, such as part time and freelance, so that they can serve as consultants or coaches to younger workers, which could help make the transition smoother.

Ultimately, employers should make every endeavour in working out a solution to balance their companies' aging workforce with the continued development of Gen Y and Z workers. On top of the changes in contractual retirement age and employee retention strategies, ongoing training and development of competent talent of all ages is the key to future success.

January 05, 2015

Look out for further updates on our Facebook fan page!