Embrace senior workers for a fair and inclusive workplace

The Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) addresses questions on employment opportunities and practices for senior workers

Tafep, employment, hiring practices, seniors, age-friendly, diverse, Singapore
The process of hiring on merit — instead of focusing on age — can pay off in several ways, such as earning greater respect from your employees and motivating them to do their best at work. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

To create age-friendly workplaces, employers must end age bias in recruitment and discard any negative stereotypes they may have against senior workers. The Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep) calls on employers to be progressive in hiring senior workers and creating an age-friendly workplace where senior workers can thrive.

Q: As a business owner, I am concerned about whether senior workers can adapt in a fast-paced and sometimes physically demanding work environment. How can I hire senior workers and help them to integrate quickly?

A: The process of hiring on merit - rather than focusing on age - can pay off in several ways, such as earning greater respect from your employees and motivating them to do their best at work.

Here are some ideas on how employers can modify and uplift their practices to embrace senior workers.

Adopt fair hiring practices

Firstly, ensure that the rest of your management shares a fair and progressive mindset in hiring senior workers by reviewing your screening criteria. You can indicate in your job advertisements that your positions are suitable for senior workers.

Adopting the Tripartite Standard on Age-Friendly Workplace Practices will also distinguish you from other employers on the MyCareersFuture portal.

Provide training and development

To better integrate senior workers, offer them the same guidance and training opportunities for career development that your younger employees might have access to. In this digital era, encourage those who are stronger in the relevant skills to help train others. Where possible, pair up senior and younger employees to foster a spirit of teamwork and mentoring.

Create an inclusive workplace and culture

Redesigning the workplace on organisational and systems levels to create easier, safer and smarter jobs can help senior workers immensely and maximise their potential at work. Beyond that, you can also facilitate multi-generational bonding among your employees through recreational activities.

Q: As a senior looking to re-enter the workforce, how should I start?

A: Older job seekers can do their part by adopting a positive mindset and being open to exploring new areas. Here are some steps to get you started.

Stay relevant

To seek assistance in signing up for training programmes to gain new skills, you may tap SkillsFuture Advice (SFA) or approach the National Silver Academy (NSA). Both providers offer a wide range of resources and learning opportunities to get you better equipped.

Come prepared

Read up about your prospective employer and understand what they do before attending a job interview. You can find this information on the company's website or their LinkedIn page. You can also book a one-to-one session with e2i's Employability Coach to improve your interviewing skills.

Communicate clearly

If you are transitioning to a new role or industry, find out more about the demands of the job from your potential employer. Should you be open to taking up new roles or joining new industries, make your flexibility known. If you face constraints that might hinder your transition, try raising them to your interviewer to discuss how the concerns can be worked out for both parties.

Keep an open mind

Senior workers returning to the workforce may find themselves working alongside fresh graduates or reporting to someone younger. Appreciate the strengths of your younger colleagues and exchange your knowledge or skills with one another. Multi-generational teamwork can produce great synergy.

Q: I am in my 40s and recently attended a job interview where the hiring manager told me they prefer someone more energetic. Is this considered age discrimination?

A: Employers should hire on the basis of merit and avoid stating age limits during selection or recruitment.

In this case, the employer needs to explain or elaborate on their definition of "more energetic" and if there is a screening test to objectively determine so. If the employer requires employees to only come from a specific age group, then the employer must justify why an employee's age affects his or her ability to perform the job.

Tafep works closely with the Ministry of Manpower to take action against discriminatory employers, including suspending their work pass privileges.

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Tripartite Alliance for Fair & Progressive Employment Practices (Tafep)

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