DAILY NEWS Nov 28, 2012 11:48 AM - 0 comments

Canada's small business owners place premium on older workers: study

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A large majority of Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) owners agree that workers 65 years and older offer more valuable experience and expertise than younger workers, according to new research from Investors Group.

According to the Canadian financial firm, 96 per cent of SME owners said retirement-age employees bring more value to the table, while 69 per cent contend that this group is not more expensive to employ.

“As more boomers and seniors continue working in their later years, it’s encouraging to see that their value and contribution to the workplace are acknowledged by Canada’s small business owners,” Investors Group tax and estate planning director Dave Ablett said in a statement. “At the same time, finding work in later years will require thinking outside the box and a sound retirement plan to ease the transition into a new phase of life.”

According to Investors Group, the majority of small business owners do not have concerns about lack of stamina and reduced productivity from older workers. To the contrary, 85 per cent said workers 65 years and older are just as productive as younger workers, and 79 per cent concur that senior workers have the required level of energy and ambition for their jobs.

But despite the praise, small business owners aren’t predisposed to put this demographic on the payroll as new workers. The study also revealed that while 31 per cent of small business owners currently have employment opportunities within their organizations, most (79 per cent) believe it’s not likely that the position will be filled by someone older than 65 now, or in the future (64 per cent).

Some 51 per cent of survey respondents also concede health issues are more likely to affect the attendance or job performance of workers who are seniors. The study also found 55 per cent believe seniors are not as technologically-adept as younger workers.

Recognizing that employing older workers is the new normal – at least in the short term – small business owners appear to be considering a number of viable work options to accommodate them. Many of the SME owners surveyed said they already offer, or are agreeable to implementing, a number of workplace adjustments including: part-time employment (65 per cent); specific project work (43 per cent); contract or consulting work (35 per cent); working from home (25 per cent); and job sharing (23 per cent).

“Whether it is a second career or a phased-in-retirement, flexibility is key to retaining and even acquiring older talent and enabling them to add value to the business as they continue to pursue their career interests,” Ablett said.

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