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Home > Business > Special

Senior citizens shine post retirement

Dipta Joshi in Mumbai | October 08, 2007

L J Kenny, 65,  never actually retired. The former Johnson & Johnson chief engineer still follows an eight-10 hour work schedule as a consultant with a leading insurance company. His responsibility: setting up new offices for the firm.

With rising competition and dearth of qualified professionals, employers are increasingly considering senior citizens as a part of the workforce or consultants because of the experience they bring to the work place.

"Employers are looking for those who can translate the ideas quickly and thus, the need for people who have been there and done that," says Prashant Khumbuswadkar, head, human resource, HDFC [Get Quote] Standard Life Insurance. The company has recruited several retired persons.

Job openings are increasing for senior citizens in most of the booming sectors like retail, hospitality, real estate, banking and insurance. The most sought after job profiles include advisors or consultants in various fields, administrators in schools or companies, actuaries in insurance companies and report writers for research agencies.

Sample this: 93 of the 217 Indian actuaries world-wide are above the age of 60. Qualified actuaries (with 10-15 years of experience) earn anywhere above Rs 25 lakh (Rs 2.5 million) a year. And a chief actuary, anywhere upwards of Rs 80 lakh (Rs 8 million) a year.

Even in the business processing outsourcing units, where normally the young and energetic are in high demand, the not-so young are being wooed aggressively." Those who have been in the profession of education have loads of patience to teach and deal with youngsters are being hired as trainers in the sector," says a job consultant. Salaries for the trainers are Rs 600,000-700,000 lakh a year.

Besides experience, the other reasons for the demand include loyalty and lower payouts. The retirees are known to stay around a job and that brings stability to organisations. "The presence of elders instils a sense of discipline in young organisations," explains Mohandoss, vice president, of Hyderabad based recruiting agency HRNet Consultants.

The salaries are also less, compared with younger employees having a similar job profile. So, most of the big companies hire them as consultants or retainers.

This is because a consultant need not be paid short-term or long-term benefits like leave travel allowance, medical benefits, gratuity or pensions.

Thus, many senior citizens start their second innings out with a smaller pay as compared to a younger professional and at times, even lower than their own previous salaries.

"At times, we start at almost one-thirds of our previous salary," laments one senior citizen, who earns close to Rs 50,000 each month as a consultant. A former Godrej [Get Quote] employee, Khurshed Pagdiwala, a corporate advisor, says, "Perks constitute almost 40 per cent of an employee's salary structure. But once you are no longer an employee, these are out and your salary is bound to come down."

L S Murthy, head, human resources, Brigade Corporation, a knowledge process outsourcing company, believes that this structure is bound to change in time to come.

"For most re-employment seekers, the salary is a source of earning additional income. It is still a fairly new concept and we should expect several add-on features in the times to come," says Murthy.

Lower pay cheques notwithstanding, having an old hand on board seems to be a win-win situation for both the organisation and the retired individuals.

Ask Kenny if he misses the leisurely life he would have enjoyed as a retired person? "Not a bit," he says with a smile. Did anyone say life begins at 60?

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