Progressive organisations such as Maybank and Royal Plaza on Scotts realise the value in the silver workforce; thus they find ways to leverage all diverse workforce demographics.

For many seniors, retirement does not necessarily mean an end to working. In Singapore, the employment rate for older workers has steadily increased, from 57% in 2009 to 65% in 2013.

In 2015, over 98% of private-sector local employees who wished to continue working at the age of 62 were offered re-employment. More recently, the employment rate of eligible older workers has risen by 1.6 percentage points on average each year since the implementation of the Retirement and Re-employment Act (RRA) enacted in 2012.

Progressive organisations in and around Asia realise the value in the silver workforce; thus they find ways to acknowledge and leverage all diverse workforce demographics.

Depositing interest in mature workers: Maybank

One of these is Maybank, which is recognised as a first mover in the financial industry to make a commitment towards the recommendations made under the Tripartite Advisory on the Re-employment of Older Workers. It is also first unionised company in the industry to go beyond a Memorandum of Agreement to sign a re-employment policy in line with the Tripartite Guidelines in 2009.

Although Singapore’s official re-employment age was extended from 65 to 67 only this year, Maybank since 2011 has been proactively extending the re-employment age of workers beyond the age of 65, for staff who are certified fit and able to continue adding value to the company. "Currently, we have over 30 workers who have stayed beyond the official retirement age. These staff are generally given the option of continuing in their current role," Wong Keng Fye, head of human capital, Maybank Singapore tells us.

As a strong advocate of the principle of the “right person for the right job”, regardless of an employee’s age, Maybank has hired about 50 PMETs above the age of 45 over the last three years. Additionally, the company provides a range of leave benefits, as well as flexible and part-time work arrangements, that staff can apply for when necessary.

"For example, in June 2017, we announced that our employees can apply for sabbatical leave with no pay for two to 24 months. Eligible employees who go on sabbatical leave will continue to enjoy certain benefits such as medical coverage and retain the opportunity to return to work in the bank after their leave," Wong explains.

In bringing about these policies, the Malaysia-headquartered back has partnered with National Trades Union Congress (NTUC) under the Advantage scheme to make ergonometric adjustments to selected areas of the workplace, which feature a high percentage of mature workers. For their comfort and convenience, such features include better lighting, motorised ladders in the warehouse, reconfiguration of workstations, and bigger computer monitors.

The conferment of the Exemplary Employer Awards by Tripartite Alliance for Fair and Progressive Employment Practices (TAFEP) in 2010, 2014 and 2016 validates Maybank's ongoing efforts to cater to the evolving needs of its staff. "We are encouraged to receive this recognition by the community and the industry," says Wong.

Beyond awards and accolades, Maybank cites staff retention metrics, productivity metrics, and its Employee Engagement Index (EEI) all as indicators of its progress and success, in helping to track the effectiveness of its fair, responsible and progressive policies and programmes. Wong clarifies: "Our staff retention rate has been consistently above industry and national statistics, and around half of the bank’s total employees here have been with the organisation for at least five years."

In addition, he affirms the significance in looking out for the company's mature workers: "We value the collective wisdom and experience, skills and insights that more mature PMEs bring to our workplace. By implementing age-friendly HR practices, we see greater stability and commitment from our staff. In addition, we observe that an age-diverse workforce has helped to boost innovation and creativity in the organisation."

In Maybank's view, employees who have been with the Bank for many years are considered “key knowledge repositories”, possessing institutional skills as well as knowledge of business and customers, which they can share with their younger peers. "There are many other intangible benefits to hiring older workers. For example, customers are happy to deal with familiar faces who have a good understanding of their past dealings with the Bank and their needs. This resonates with Maybank's mission “humanising financial services.”

A king-size focus on older workers: Royal Plaza on Scotts

Another early adopter of demographic-specific policies is Royal Plaza on Scotts (RP), which adopted re-employment practices back in 2007. "The mature workers represent a rich source of untapped manpower," is the belief held by Abdul Subhan, assistant chief engineer at Royal Plaza on Scotts. "Singapore’s ageing workforce calls for companies to constantly retrain the mature workforce to ensure their employability beyond the retirement age."

To adopt this retraining philosophy, the hotel is undertaking the READY (Reemployment: Equipping & Developing Yourself) programme for those entering reemployment. RP also provides complimentary flu jab for those above 50 years old, complimentary annual health screenings, and comprehensive medical insurance coverage for all talent.

Evidently, retention and development of a multi-generational workforce is an important aspect of managing manpower at RP, which offers flexible work arrangement for mature employees who wish to spend more time, including offering a five-day work week. Those who are unable to continue performing the same amount of work can continue to work 22 hours a week and spend the rest of their time with their friends or loved ones.

Subhan shares: "Special requests have been accommodated for some of our mature talents who preferred to work on permanent afternoon shift as they would like to look after their grandchildren in the day. Some talents work permanent shifts or even fix weekend off to accommodate them for their needs at the home front." Royal Plaza on Scotts has also leveraged technology in its talent journey, for example, motorised trolleys in housekeeping to reduce the risk of workplace injuries caused by overexertion.

Many of RP's initiatives have been crafted keeping the family members of employees in mind, as a result they can claim medical, dental and health insurance fees through its Flexible Benefits scheme.  As part of its Children Education Subsidy, on a yearly basis RP gives away a stipulated amount of money for each child, from a toddler up till the completion of their secondary school education.

To support the implementation of some of its forward-looking practices, RP applied for the Work-Life Grant under the WorkPro initiative by WSG, which requires the company to formalise a certain number of flexible work arrangements. As a result, three flexible work arrangements have been formalised: 22-hour work week, five- or six-day work week for the operations team, and staggered working hours for back of the house; with at least 20% of the workforce signing up for it.

Similarly, RP participates in complimentary workshops organised by TAFEP for its HR team and line managers on how to manage older workers in terms of their performance appraisals, and needs and grievances. "RP was one of the first few to be recognised as a Human Capital Partner, and through the networking sessions, we have the opportunities to find out some of the best practices from other progressive companies to build our talent capabilities. TAFEP recently launched Tripartite Standard and RP is one of the early adopters that signed on to show its commitment to be a fair and progressive workplace," affirms Subhan.

With stiff competition for manpower in the hospitality industry, it is especially important to anticipate evolving market trends and implement strategies to respond accordingly, which RP has continued to do. Strongly believer in the old adage that “happy staff makes happy guests”, as the workplace happiness index increases, the guest satisfaction at the hotel increases in tandem. Subhan highlights that the percentage of repeat guests has growing steadily over the years, increasing from 43% to 45%, from 2014 to 2016.

Summing up, Subhan calls out the mix of the multi-generation as complementary to the organisation’s structure, as the younger associates bring in the energy and zest while the mature talents are here to take the younger ones under their wings to provide guidance. He concludes: "The cross pollination of ideas across generations is a great platform for talents to learn from one another, bringing better and refreshing processes to the work place."