Oakville’s Change Rangers help businesses deal with older workers

Local entrepreneur Mark Venning isn’t just working longer, he’s also helping others figure out how to work longer too.

Venning is the 62-year-old founder of Oakville-based consultancy group Change Rangers, which offers businesses research, presentations and advisory services on aging workers.

The former career and talent development adviser said companies need to consider creating more accommodations for older workers approaching retirement due to health and logistical concerns.

Older workers also need to reconsider their idea of employment beyond the concept of simply full-time employment, Venning said.

“For a lot of people, especially in the business professional category, there are many more options and opportunities to work in retirement, including unpaid jobs,” Venning told YourMississaugaBiz.com.

Venning said businesses shouldn’t wait to be approached by employees expressing the desire to delay their retirements beyond the age of 65.

Business owners and managers should also be worried if their human resource departments aren’t considering the issue of older workers at all.

“I’ve actually sat with HR folks who have said, ‘Well, I’m just waiting for my retirement,’” Venning said, suggesting that managers and owners be the ones starting the conversation. “They have to be more connected with the people they’re working with.”

Venning also cautioned businesses from using the “one size fits all” approach to their messaging, as staff under the age of 55 would likely have a very different set of priorities.

“If you’re 51 or 52, you still have kids going to university, [you]’ve got mortgages up the wazoo and parents to look after,” he said. “You’re going to have to manage your career for a longer period of time.”

While some companies worry bringing up the topic of retirement among staff will lead to accusations of “ageism,” Venning stressed the importance of knowing the age of employees and their future plans.

He said the information can be incredibly useful for planning different types of retirement seminars as well as upcoming hiring and training needs.

Venning suggested one of the things older workers would be better suited for are “interim assignments,” such as covering maternity leaves. “You bring in the 60-year-old person to pinch hit because there’s no learning curve,” he said. “The key is being open to variations of what work looks like.”

Rather than operate on ‘cruise control,’ Venning recommended companies take a prepared and proactive approach through programs like IBM’s Retirees On Call (ROC).

“Here’s a program where if we need someone on a specific project for their insights, then it’s open to you, if you want it,” Venning said, noting that approximately 20 per cent of IBM’s staff took up the offer and came back to work.

For local companies who want to do something similar, Venning recommended business owners and manager start by identifying the talent, skills and knowledge they need.

They also need to look at how their business is changing, as well as mapping out how existing employees are going to fit into that vision over the next three to five years.

The last thing companies need to do confront the issue, not ignore it. “Let’s have a brave conversation about it, let’s not hide it,” Venning said.

Mark Venning will be speaking about the aging workforce at Sheridan College’s Oakville campus on July 31, during the Business of Aging’s quarterly breakfast meeting. The event, hosted by Sheridan’s Elder Research Centre, will start at 8 a.m.


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