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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Retired......but not tired ?



Perhaps, it’s time we throw the spotlight on the most under-utilised segment of the Indian workforce: Retired veterans

         Recently, it was in the news that the Indian government is contemplating raising the retirement age of scientists from 60 to 62, so that their “acumen can be put to use for another two years”. Why can’t we replicate this in other industries as well? Even if professionals are not on full-time pay roll past the age of 60, their experience and expertise can be profitably utilised on a part-time or consultant / advisorial capacity. This makes sense, especially in a country, which rates lowest on the global pension index (according to the 2014 Melbourne Mercer Global Pension Index). 
     “Several private companies are hiring retired professionals depending on their competence and leveraging from their experience and networking skills. It is a win-win for both the company and the employee,” says Sampatkumar B Aratti, VP and CHRO, Lapp India Pvt Ltd. He however does not think that we should push the retirement age, as this may result in reduced opportunities for young talent. This is a sentiment that is echoed by many in the industry. Yet, when you consider the fact that globally, most countries have their retirement ages between 62 and 67 (Australia, Greece, the US and the Scandinavian countries all touch 67 for certain professions), India’s rigidity in this area seems to merit a rethink. “Retirement is not mandatory for many professionals including doctors, lawyers and auditors and hence, there is a weak case to impress a compulsory retirement age to a profession,” remarks T Shivaram, head of HR, SAP Labs India.
    Recently, at the EFI National HRM Summit 2014 & CIE 34th Employee Relations Conference, a representative from the Army Welfare Placement Organisation made a presentation, exhorting the delegates to consider hiring qualified ex-servicemen for positions they were unable to fill. Certainly, the preference will always be for professionals in their prime. But are we considering retired veterans as a second or even a third option?
     “The openness of an organisation to retired professionals strongly depends on the nature of the business. A firm that requires professionals to regularly travel and be equipped with advanced technology would think twice before hiring. However, retired professionals with the same expertise can be considered for the position of a consultant,” explains Zafar Rais, CEO, MindShift Interactive.
   The problem of unproductive but employable senior professionals is manifold. From a psychosocial perspective, it is depressing for talented individuals to suddenly stop having a sense of purpose and contribution. And from a financial perspective, it puts a heavy strain on their ability to provide for themselves and their families, considering that savings rates rarely keep up with inflation rates. According to the Global Benefits Attitudes Survey, employer retirement plans have emerged as the top source of income for retirement. What can organisations do to compensate employees financially for their post-retirement life?
    Manuel D’Souza, director – HR, Serco Global Services answers, “Apart from PFs, companies have tie-ups with banks and insurance agencies, ensuring their employees contribute a certain amount of their salary in these plans. Aside of this, companies are now designing compensation and benefit package structures in a way that addresses the unique needs of each demographic group. Adding to that, a lot of organisations tend to offer contributions to an employee’s National Pension System plan as an account that provides tax benefits and savings for retirement.” 
The Global Benefits Attitudes Survey points to the fact that when given an independent choice between various components of rewards, Indian employees prefer a larger base pay hike across all age groups.
     Therefore, individuals must start preparing for retirement independently, irrespective of what benefits they stand to receive from their employers. Celebrating medical advances that allow us to live longer has little meaning if this extended life is not purposeful and financially sound. We, as a society, need to open up to the reality that not everyone may prefer spending thirty years of their life watching the rest of the world go about its business.
Article courtesy : Ascent
Ankita.Shreeram

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