Unfortunately this is a very neglected area in Poland where there is much to catch up – especially in the aspect of age management vs. labor market. Therefore, we can say that age management is an element of diversity management.
Diversity management means a conscious use of certain practices that recognize, tolerate and yet appreciate the value posed by the differences. Diversity management in the workplace is to understand that the differences between people both in the workplace and on the labor market certainly can contribute to the benefit of the company. Diversity management means:
- Exploring the potential of every employee,
- Better perception of skills and abilities of people who could work in the company,
- Ensuring optimal use of presence on the market and giving potential (possible) development of new markets and avoid any kind of problems that could lead to the downfall of your business.
More and more companies are aware that for their own safety and position on the market they have to invest in solutions that go beyond the standard tools of personnel management. Companies are increasingly aware that their competitiveness is not determined only by market shift, but above all investing in human capital and the use of appropriate policy instruments for diversity of staff, because EVERY EXPERIENCED MANAGER CLEARLY UNDERSTANDS THAT A COMPANY IS JUST NOT A NICE OFFICE BUT ONLY PEOPLE. One of the solutions for such a strategy of diversity management is the management of age.
Management of age can be described as solutions that aim at sustainable development, updating the knowledge and skills of older workers, maintaing their commitment to the objectives of the company and keeping them in good shape and health.
More and more companies in Europe are aware of demographic change and they begin to implement a policy of age management. They do this because many Countries are “aging”. Management of age includes solutions in HR management that on the one hand make the company friendly for mature staff, and on the other – allow the company to exploit the full potential of their employees.
Age management is based on the various activities in many areas of the company, mainly related to HR, and its main goal is to create a friendly working environment to employees regardless of their age, taking into account the needs and capabilities of the workers according to their age. Age management is a constantly growing collection of methods, investing and nurturing the human capital of the company, so that the work of individuals, regardless of their age, can be profitable for the company and can bring personal satisfaction to employees. Which is also important, age management would have no sense if the company had any age discriminatory practices. Age management is primarily prevention. Management of age is a comprehensive look at the career paths of employees and their development. It should cover all major areas of personnel management:
- employment planning and recruitment,
- management of development and career (education, training, reward system, wages and promotions)
- organization of the workplace (health promotion, ergonomic workplace, flexible working hours and forms of employment)
The above strategy also fits in with the concept of diversity management, in which one of the important factors is age. Employer who can spot the potential in a diverse team and who can provide the right conditions for its functioning and development, he is gaining nowadays. Cooperation in diverse team allows the transfer of knowledge and experience between the different generations of employees and replenishment skills and perspectives.
Skills and characteristics of workers change during their lifetime and that may affect the quality and type of work performed. Physical strength and resistance decrease but instead of this knowledge, experience and wisdom of life accumulate. Studies show that the cycle work of man is divided into several stages:
- trained (studying and gaining knowledge)
- professional, master, teacher (“Coach”)
- ambassador (knowledge and goodwill)
- an experienced counselor and the carrier of good practices in the company’s history (“story teller”).
Finland is one of the countries where there are conducted researches on the professional determinants according to the age (ie. Work Ability Index). They show, among other things, that even though physical predispositions and ability to concentrate get weaken with age (after 45 years old), the weight of experience and “long-term” knowledge, which have been accumulated over the years, are constantly growing. These features could be called “professional wisdom”, which in effect gives a good basis for coaching, internal forms of consultation, etc.
Age management is also a division of responsibilities and strategies in the selection of tasks for employees. Experience shows that delegation of tasks to selected staff positions, taking into account the characteristics of the age and characteristics of the group of employees may also contribute to better work efficiency. Age management should include an individual approach to employees of all ages and be far from the stereotypical thinking about managing their own development and career. Not every young Polish worker can make a use of the advanced IT tools, and the elder worker can be a good counselor or mentor. It can also be quite the opposite. Introduction of management solutions takes time and is a long-term investment, but for the employer it turns out to be less expensive solution than those associated with lack of of prior actions – searching inactive people and restore them to the level of professional competence.
Important instruments used in the management of age (or variety) are also flexible forms of employment, for example part-time work and teleworking. They allow adjustment of time and work environment for employees, related not only to age, but also to a child-rearing or disability. Basics of age management have been developed by Finns and they were the first to implement solutions in this field. Even though they still have not become a standard management in Europe, more and more companies introduce age management.
In Poland, age management is a quite new concept. The first publications on the subject appeared a few years ago and there are just a few on the market. In Poland, there are few companies that deliberately and comprehensively apply age management and good practices in this field. These are mostly large companies such as IKEA. This means that the idea of age management should be encouraged and promoted, because it is almost unknown in Poland.
- Screening, studies on awareness on the concept of age management and its implementation in the country (on local / national level)
- Work measurement capabilities in the given country (by using WAITM)
Institutions / expert organizations that deal with age management, ability to work or concept
In search of effective solutions affecting the high activity of the elderly and measures for their participation on the labor market VLO in Opole and Opole Labour Market Observatory have developed an in-depth analysis of the phenomenon. Switzerland served here as a model solution, which stands out the second in Europe, with the employment rate of people aged over 50 (56.8%) and the second lowest rate in the unemployment rate in this group (2.9%). The effects of the study visit and the cooperation of a group of experts were presented by Krzysztof Duraj of VLO referring to the Swiss catalog of good practices and tools to enable companies to assess the personnel policy and make the appropriate changes. Developed by VLO publication points out the need to open the Opole labor market to new challenges.
The problem of the aging of the regional labor market has so far been considered particularly on the supply side – ways of activation of the unemployed aged 50+, and VLO proposes an approach from the demand side – encouraging employers to hire workers at a mature age, and awareness of the strengths of this group and the ways in which you can exploit their strengths and minimize the weaknesses. Existing on the Polish labor market forms of employer support provide a wide range of implementation of age management procedures. As an example, one can point out the National Training Fund, which funds may be used for the implementation of training policy adequate to the needs of the company, including training for methods of age management.
Also, promotion and information activities related to the adaptation to the changing demographics of age management procedures will be of a great importance in changing the approach of employers. Changing the false stereotypes rooted in the collective social consciousness is often needed in a situation of change in society. This is certainly the sphere of the economy and also important factor in when it is necessary to change the approach to the situation of the elderly.
It is also worth mentioning the role of the silver economy, which is the market of products and services dedicated to people aged 60+, offered by three sectors: business, public authorities and non-governmental organizations.
At the moment Polish silver economy is primarily concerned with health and care offers. Pharmaceuticals and personal care products dedicated to the seniors are common in consumer awareness. Simultaneously it begins to create a market for care services. There is also a market for products and services targeted at people with disabilities, but still those aimed strictly at seniors with their ailments of old age are very rare. This is painting all the seniors with the same brush: health and welfare, without the knowledge of the different needs and problems of this group
And for several years we have been witnessing a rapid growth of groups of the seniors as a result of reaching a certain age by many generations born after World War II. At the same time there has been a qualitative change – generations are better educated than previous generations, and they have a different vision of their own age. They are moving away from how they spend their old age in favor of how they want to live in their sixties. This vision is much more active and pro-consumerist than their old age their predecessors, there is room for other activities than the family or a TV. This is the group, in which a lot of people aim at personal development, maintain good physical and mental fitness.
Some of them are focused on the implementation of the forgotten or abandoned passions while others want to explore new interests. Many people want to acquire new skills and knowledge, they set themselves new goals and look for challenges. Finally, there is a group of the seniors who have found the courage to solve their own psychological and sexual problems. Unfortunately, there are no advertisiments of manufacturers and service providers to encourage persons 60 + to take advantage of their offer in the above mentioned areas, as most entrepreneurs are not prepared to perceive the people aged 60+ as customers and consumers.
Review of research and other projects in the AM or WA
- Good practice in age management and human resources with particular focus on employees + 50 http://iped.pl/pliki/publikacje/Raport_Dobre_praktyki_w_zarzadzaniu_wiekiem_i_zasobami_ludzkimi.pdf
- Preliminary standards of age management in enterprises: https://www.parp.gov.pl/files/74/150/226/10730.pdf
C. Age management in form of questions and answers – guide for employers: http://www.kobiety.interwencjaprawna.pl/download/zarzadzaniewiekiem.pdf