Re-Engage Silver Talents

Companies who rehire senior workers should not short change them by re-designing roles and reducing salaries. Flexible employment policies and practices can help create a win-win situation for both parties, writes guest contributor Jim Then

Singapore has a rapidly ageing workforce, where the proportion of senior workers (those over 50 years) is set to rise from 22% in 2004 to 29% in 2015. This is due to an increase in life expectancy and Singapore’s declining birth rate, which could result in a shortage of skilled labour. Employers, striving to maintain their global competitive skills advantage, are looking for alternative labour sources, and one solution is to retain and re-engage senior workers.

Senior employees are typically highly skilled and experienced and hiring this category of individuals can save companies significant resources in both the medium and long term. Other advantages of retaining and recruiting senior workers include:

•        Senior employees frequently demonstrate good work ethics, patience, reliability and loyalty. They typically do not need supervision and have the dedication and pride to do their job well.

•        Retaining senior employees also means retaining their established customer relations skills, strong relationships with valued clients, years of experience and corporate memory.

•        For many businesses, their customer base is also ageing. Having senior employees is valuable, as they are able to relate better to senior customers, as well as understand how to redesign products and services, making them age appropriate.

•        Businesses can save costs in training new and younger employees. Frequently, senior employees can take on the role of a trainer or mentor to their younger colleagues.

Many senior individuals would like to work beyond retirement for different reasons, including keeping their financial independence, staying mentally active and being socially engaged. However, they may not want to carry on doing the same job that they have been responsible for, over the past 20 to 30 years. Other individuals may have self-imposed expectations about working beyond retirement age and therefore could need some encouragement to continue working.

The Retirement and Re-employment Act 2012 requires employers to continue employing older workers upon reaching 62 years old until they are 65 years if they fulfil the criteria. Unfortunately, the re-employment of senior workers can frequently result in their re-designation and reduction of remuneration, which is perceived as a lack of-recognition of their past contributions, in addition to being unkind. While re-employed senior employees may be willing to accept reduced salaries, this means that employers need to find other ways to motivate, engage and recognise them. In order to see maximum results when employing senior workers, employers will need to put in place flexible employment policies and practices. Here are some suggestions:


•        Encourage and recognise the contributions of senior workers with new job designations. For example, mentor, customer relation ambassador, or product consultant.

•        Provide health and well-being facilities for senior employees at the workplace. For example, ergonomic equipment, furniture adjustments and lighting.

•        Recognise senior employees’ diverse interests and needs with appropriate job postings

•        Facilitate gradual transition to retirement through succession planning. This can include creating mentorships opportunities for older workers to share their experience. It captures skills, passes on corporate culture and builds bridges between generations.

Create an age appropriate work environment

•        Offer flexible working arrangements, including flexible work hours, part-time work, job-sharing or work from home assignments

•        Ensure that work assignments are age-appropriate, in particular considering factors such as physical demands

•        Ensure that hiring and employee promotion activities do not discriminate on the basis of age

•        Ensure that teambuilding activities are appropriate for people of all ages

Skill Development

•        Skill development provides senior workers with new challenges and interests. They feel valued and on par with their younger colleagues

•        Where appropriate, pair senior workers with younger workers to facilitate skills sharing

•        Be aware that some senior workers may have outdated technical skills, lack of formal or advanced education. Training will solve this problem

•        Recognise the transferability of experience, competencies and skills of the skilled older workers

Skilled labour shortage is a challenge for many employers and industries. One solution is to re-employ senior workers who can provide efficient results. Hiring senior workers can help businesses maintain a reliable and dedicated workforce that will contribute towards higher productivity and an excellent corporate culture.

Special Employment Credit

The Special Employment Credit (SEC) was introduced as a 2011 Budget Initiative to support employers as well as to raise the employability of older low-wage Singaporeans. It was enhanced this year to provide employers with continuing support to hire older Singaporean workers.

With these enhancements, about 73,000 employers employing 350,000 older Singaporeans are expected to benefit from the SEC. This will cost the Government about $470m per year over the next five years. Employers may qualify for the SEC for workers employed from 1 January 2012 onwards. Payments will be made twice a year. The first payment of the enhanced SEC was made in September this year.

The enhanced SEC will be given to employers who hire Singaporean employees aged above 50 earning up to $4,000 per month. For each Singaporean employee aged above 50 who earns up to $3,000 monthly, employers will receive an SEC of 8% of the employee’s monthly wages. The SEC payout will be lowered for employees with a monthly wage of between $3,000 and $4,000.

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This article is contributed by Jim Then, who develops and conducts pre-retirement and re-employment courses. He has received the 2010 Active Ager Award from the Council of Third Age. For more information, visit or email


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