The Conference Board Issues Guide for Managers

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<p><strong>New York &mdash; Oct. 4</strong><br />As baby boomers move closer to the traditional retirement age, corporations are being challenged to keep mature workers engaged, retain their knowledge within the organization and harness the benefits of an intergenerational workforce.<br /><br />The Conference Board has issued “Putting Experience to Work &ndash; A Guide to Navigating Legal and Management Issues Relating to a Mature Workforce” to fill the gap in knowledge &mdash; legal, managerial and cultural &mdash; on how to engage mature workers and get the most from their knowledge and abilities.<br /><br />&ldquo;Ultimately, the guide shows how to manage mature workers in such a way as to motivate and retain them and to keep them performing at peak capacity,&rdquo; said Diane Piktialis, The Conference Board mature workforce program leader. <br /><br />Effective best practices discussed include honest performance reviews, individual development plans, continuous and universal training, and succession planning and knowledge transfer.  <br /><br />Written by Deborah Weinstein, Esq., founder and president of The Weinstein Firm, and David Micah Kaufman, The Weinstein Firm senior consultant, the guide is an all-in-one manual for managers who recognize the talents of experienced workers and want to do their best to keep them on the job and performing optimally or to effectively handle a transition away from the company.<br /><br />Questions answered by the guide include how to assess a mature workers&rsquo; performance, as well as how to identify retirement intentions and/or intentions to remain with the company in some capacity.<br /><br />&ldquo;There are legal pitfalls to managing the mature workforce, but this guide helps managers and their companies navigate around these issues and succeed,&rdquo; Weinstein said. &ldquo;The lesson from the guide is that ignoring the growing mature workforce is not a solution. Companies can smartly manage the legal risks by understanding the law and legal best practices.&rdquo;<br /><br />The book shows how companies can successfully manage their mature workers and remain compliant with the laws that protect them. </p><p>Weinstein said that by following the advice in the guide, managers need not be intimidated by the rules and regulations that protect the mature workforce.<br /><br />&ldquo;Today&rsquo;s workplace features representatives of every generation working side by side,&rdquo; said Lorrie Foster, The Conference Board executive director of councils and research working groups. &ldquo;For organizations to be successful, they need to make use of this generational diversity, drawing on the unique experiences, insights, work styles and perspectives of all these generations.&rdquo;<br /><br />As the baby boomers  age, the number of workers who are near and beyond what many think as being &ldquo;retirement&rdquo; age is increasing. </p><p>The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that from 2000 to 2010, the number of workers older than 65 will increase by 30 percent, and the number of workers 35 to 44 will decline by 10 percent.    <br /><br />Apart from contributing to business success, supporting mature workers is a legal requirement. </p><p>Among other state and federal laws that protect older workers, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) prohibits employment discrimination against persons 40 or older.   <br /><br />&ldquo;By weaving in the legal background throughout, the guide dispels much of a manager&rsquo;s discomfort of beginning some of the delicate discussions surrounding mature worker management, including retirement options and succession planning,&rdquo; Kaufman said.<br /><br />According to the guide, certain words and phrases, such as &ldquo;taking it easy&rdquo; and &ldquo;cutting back&rdquo; should be avoided when speaking with mature workers about their future &mdash; for older workers to feel involved in the continuing success of the organization and to comply with the law, managers cannot be seen as making assumptions about, or actually pressuring, older workers to plan for their retirements.<br /><br />&ldquo;It&rsquo;s important to remember that when work usually meant hard physical labor, both men and women were worn out by the time they reached their 50s and 60s, so most didn&rsquo;t make it to retirement,” said Jeri Sedlar, senior adviser to The Conference Board on mature workforce issues. “But in today&rsquo;s digital age, more people use computers and phones and sit at desks in air-conditioned offices. Since sophisticated machines essentially do the &lsquo;heavy lifting,&rsquo; the idea of needing to rest at the end of your career because your body is physically worn out from long days of backbreaking work just isn&rsquo;t true any longer for many people.&rdquo;</p>

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