Archive - September, 2013

Tips for hiring older Singaporeans

Sixty-year-old Belinda Thia is a housekeeping coordinator for Crowne Plaza Changi Airport. The company was recently given the “Caring Employer” award by the Singapore Compact for CSR for employing persons with disabilities (PWD) as well as matured workers.

I saw this in an ad from the Tripartite Alliance for Fair Employment Practices (TAFEP) recently, which might come in useful to companies. TAFEP promotes the adoption of fair, responsible and merit-based employment practices among employers, employees and the general public:

1. Review and remove age-related bias in selection criteria – focus on what’s relevant to the job. (In a separate newspaper article about the dos and don’ts of job ads, on the point about age, TAFEP advises “words or phrases that suggest preference for job candidates of a particular age group should not be used”. Not acceptable – “below 30 only”, “youthful working environment”. Acceptable – “older workers welcome”, “three years of relevant experience”.)

2. Include a mature employee in your interview panel.

3. Assign a similar-age buddy for new mature hires.

4. Train your employees on how to work in multi-generational teams.

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3 tips for designing user experiences for the elderly

From my own research on end-of-life decision-making, as well as working with my design students for the elderly population in Singapore, I have come up with three insights:

1. Talk, talk, talk – Build relationships with the elderly. Consulting with users is the gold-standard of user-centred design, and it is nothing new, but I continue to see designers designing for target groups they don’t understand. Designers tend to design for themselves, and they get away with it most of the time because the technology-consuming audience IS mostly in the same age group. With the elderly, however, failing to understand their unique circumstances can leave a project dead in the water.

Anecdotally, most developers I have met are in the 25- to 35-year-old range. If we define the elderly as anyone over 65, then we are talking about a minimum 30-year age gap, often more. In most of Asia, the past 30 years was a time of rapid developmental change, from villages to cities, from black and white TVs to YouTube. Jargon has changed and horizons have been expanded.

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