Wednesday, May 1, 2013


In conjunction with Labour Day today, I would like to single out for special mention two companies, one in Singapore, the other in Malaysia. Both have a soft spot for older workers when it comes to hiring staff. 

Unlike many companies that pay lip service to the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices, Singapore's FairPrice supermarket chain wants to be known as an age-friendly company when hiring workers. Indeed, CEO Seah Kian Peng, 51, is proud to say that more than 40% of the supermarket's workforce is aged 50 years and above. The oldest employee is 71.

Source: The Straits Times

That's not all. Every Tuesday is Senior Citizens' Day. Any customer who is 60 and above gets a discount on their purchases. You don't need to apply for a discount card as long as you look 60 or older.

FairPrice takes its corporate social responsibilities seriously. In 2008, it expanded its CSR programme with the establishment of the FairPrice Foundation, a registered charity, bringing the supermarket one step further towards achieving its vision to be "a world-class retailer with a heart".

Lam Soon Edible Oils, a public-listed company in Malaysia did the country proud by winning the 2011 AARP International Best Employers for Workers Over 50 Award. This award recognises top 15 non-US companies that have demonstrated outstanding workplace policies and best HR practices for their mature employees. 

Whang receiving the AARP award for
Best Employers For Workers Over 50 (Source: The Star)
Says Lam Soon executive chairman Whang Shang Ying, “We have a total number of 1,456 employees and 20.1% of them are over 50 years of age. We believe that the older employees possess great experience and are able to contribute significantly to the company.

“For example, older employees in each function are designated subject matter experts and play a useful role as facilitators and trainers. Therefore, we provide a positive working environment to the older employees such as flexible working hours and opportunities to remain employed beyond the statutory retirement age,” 

Older workers certainly have much to contribute in terms of knowledge, experience and skills. Companies like FairPrice and Lam Soon know the value of having a pool of human resources that cut across demographic divides. Age diversity in staff employment can only enrich the working culture and ultimately the ROI of a company.

If more companies changed their negative mindset about hiring older workers, those aged 50 and above would have reason to celebrate Labour Day.

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