Survey: U.S. Employers Sluggish in Attracting and Keeping Older Workers

April 23, 2007 ( - Fourteen percent of employers have mapped out a plan to recruit older workers and only 21% have retention strategies to keep them participating in the workforce, which suggests that employers are not prepared to deal with the onslaught of individuals wanting to work past age 50, according to a recent survey by Manpower, Inc.

The survey of 28,000 employers found that in 19 of the 25 countries where employers were surveyed, retention strategies were more prevalent than recruiting strategies for older workers.

“It appears that most employers worldwide are ignoring the demographic forecasts and evidence of growing talent shortages, and instead, still waiting to see it in their headlights before they begin to think differently about the older workforce,” said Jeffrey Joerres, Chairman and CEO of Manpower, in a news release. “By then, it could be too late to avoid the impact of large-scale retirements on the productivity and knowledge base of their company.”

Japan and Singapore are taking the greatest strides to keep their older workers working, with 83% and 53% employers, respectively, having retention strategies in place. The survey suggests that legislation and incentive programs in the two countries promote such retention strategies. However, of those employers in Italy and Spain, only 6% of employers are making the same efforts.

Retention efforts by U.S. employers fall far short of those made by Japan’s employers, with only 28% of U.S. employers saying they have a formal retention strategy. However, 18% say they have a plan in place to recruit older workers.

One quarter of employers in Wholesale and Retail sector in the U.S. make an effort to recruit older workers, and Construction employers make the least effort (8%). As far as retention, employers in the Education sector make the greatest efforts (34%), followed by those in Wholesale and Retail (31%).

According to Manpower, the factors that most heavily influence employers’ retention and recruiting strategies include:

  • Size of the national labor pool;
  • Demographic profile of the labor pool;
  • Degree to which talent shortages are being experienced; and
  • Government legislation or programs that either promote or discourage labor force participation by older workers.

For the full survey results, go here .