Best Practices of Best Florida Companies
Turning to older workers; finding new employees; and the green factor.
Turning to Older Workers
A majority of Florida's Best Companies have no programs or policies to engage an aging workforce. And among those that say they do, a significant number turn out to mean they follow employment law strictures against discriminating.
Companies will need to improve. Shrunken investment portfolios, fallen real estate, the dwindling number of companies offering pensions and the trouble the federal government will have meeting spending promises for Medicare and Social Security make it inevitable that Boomers will prolong their stay on the workplace stage.
"I don't know if I want to be bought out right now. I enjoy what I’m doing and happy to be extremely involved in the community," says 66-year-old Ibis financial adviser Al Travasos.
[Photo: Scott Wiseman]
Other companies see older workers as a conduit to target markets. Boca Raton-based Ibis Financial Group (No. 2, Small) has several financial advisers in their 60s, and 30% of its employees are over 50. The upside, says its founder, 38-year-old Bob Barboni, is that older workers are consummate professionals and, from long experience, know nothing is gained by standing around the water cooler complaining. A couple of issues: They want more time off to travel and enjoy family and life, and "you can't micromanage them. You're not going to change their ways."
Ibis financial adviser Al Travasos, 66, just back in late June from a trip to Vancouver for the Million Dollar Roundtable association meeting of top-producing professionals, says he's done better in his last few years since working for Barboni — first at another firm and now at Ibis — than in the first 37 years of his career. "I'm so happy; it's amazing. I've personally nicknamed the place Happy Valley. We all work together. I really enjoy what I'm doing, but this is also an easy profession to start working four days instead of five if you want to. I don't know if I want to be bought out right now. I enjoy what I'm doing and happy to be extremely involved in the community."
When it comes to another program important to older workers, eldercare — since older workers frequently have parents in the age of decline — 80% of Best Companies don't offer it. None of the smaller Best Companies does. "That's got to be an area where companies have got to pay much more attention," says Florida State University management professor Bill Anthony. Caring for a parent or older relative can negatively impact careers. Under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, employees can claim time off, but it's not like spending 12 weeks caring for a newborn. It's two days here, a half-day there. Unfortunately, Anthony says, companies can make use of FMLA for intermittent leave difficult.
Aging Boomers, Anthony says, also are sensitive to losing their job because they fear discrimination in finding a new one. There also can be generational frictions, like some he found consulting in a workplace where Gen Xers and Boomers were employed. "The Boomers couldn't understand why (Gen X) didn't work weekends and nights 24/7, and the Gen X were like, ‘Get a life. You're out of your mind.' "