EurWORK European Observatory of Working Life

Nordea Bank Danmark, Denmark: Exit policy


Case study name: 
Ageing workforce
Organisation Size: 
Financial services
Target Groups: 
Initiative Types: 
Exit PolicyRetention


Organisational background


Shortage of professional staff at Nordea Bank Danmark induced the bank to change its usual exit practice and launch a retention programme for older employees, aged 61+, in cooperation with the trade union. The programme comprises both economic and managerial incentives.

Nordea is the leading financial group in the Nordic and Baltic Sea region. Nordea has about 10 million customers, more than 1,100 branch offices and over 29,000 employees.

The Danish part of this financial group, Nordea Bank Danmark A/S, is situated in Copenhagen, with about 300 subsidiaries countrywide employing about 8,500 people, of whom 15% are aged 50+. This makes Nordea the second largest bank in Denmark. The staff consists of economists, bank clerks and financial advisors. 53% of employees are women.

The general personnel policy is not aimed at diversity directly, but the need for competent people necessitates a plurality of recruiting sources and consequently the need for constant training of all employees. Training activity has been increased considerably over the past 3-4 years. Similarly, careers are governed by skills and opportunities, not by age, tenure or formal education. The possibility of obtaining a given job opening depends on the applicant’s existing qualifications, plus his or her willingness and ability of meet the demands of the new position. The existence of a company database with 400 job profiles facilitates the transparency of the internal job market, the qualification demands and thus possible training needs.

Social dialogue is not restricted to a formal agreement with the trade union, but is actively held with local representatives.

Good practice today

Generally, the bank does not experience a shortage of labour, but there are variations within personnel categories. Due to market, customer and competition factors, the demand for certain specialists is increasing, as it is in the entire financial sector. Hence Nordea has intensified its recruitment and education efforts. The effect of this will only be seen in about two years, but in order to cover its present needs — for, among others, 100 financial advisors — the bank launched a special programme in 2006 directed at its senior employees.

In agreement with the trade union, an existing economic incentive scheme aimed at early exit was transformed into the exact opposite — a scheme of retention. Formerly, senior employees were urged to retire early by signing up for a favourable economic retirement scheme at the age of 58; by doing this, they were rewarded with an increased pension for leaving the bank before the agreed pensionable age of 60-62.

In accordance with its changed needs for more specialist staff, the bank decided to draw up a scheme aimed at keeping employees from retiring before the age of 64. Negotiations with the local representatives of the trade union led to an agreement of the following scheme for senior employees:

  • 5 extra days of vacation per year from the age of 61;
  • the choice of 10% reduction of the weekly working hours without deduction in pay;
  • earning of additional pension money from the age of 62.

By putting money 'on the table' for the extra years of service required, the bank was obviously serious and focused on this matter.

Equally important for the success of this scheme was the actual use of the manpower thus generated. This was a managerial matter. The annual personal review of appraisal between managers and their employees used to encompass a theme of retirement from the age of 55. In current practice, the tacit assumption was an early retirement according to the policy of the bank. This practice was turned around completely with the introduction of the retention scheme for senior employees. Open expressions of the desirability of continued career and development, and expectations of competence were sent, along with offers of appropriate training.

Older employees are not treated differently to others, the bank maintaining a strict non-age-discrimination policy. But in the late career of an older employee, two needs often become apparent: one is the desire of managers to be relieved of their responsibilities and the other involves the need of bank advisors for renewed challenges in their work. These changes have been handled as described above: a change of position is possible throughout the career depending on job openings and qualification demands, on the one hand, and competence and willingness, on the other. Since there is a general demand for labour, intensive training activities take place during job change and recruitment.

The effect of the retention scheme is indisputable — 30% more employees of 58+ years are still at work compared with the previous year. This is, no doubt, also due to the information and encouragement given by the trade union representatives. The signed agreement expresses a bargain for both parties: the bank retains experienced employees, while the employees obtain additional money and benefits. The goal of retention as a necessary and desirable measure comes from both sides, increasing its credibility to the employees and thus enhancing the effect of the scheme.

From a policy point of view, Nordea sees the special scheme for senior employees as a temporary one. Basically, policies are for all employees and not for special groups. But special situations often call for special solutions, programmes or policies, and at the time the bank was faced with a situation that called for special attention to be paid to senior employees. In the long term, a policy for retaining senior employees should be superfluous and replaced by a new pattern of retirement, 64 being the 'natural' age. On the other hand, new issues could call for special action and policy, but temporarily and focused.

Besides these special efforts, the bank maintains a broad variety of schemes and activities for its employees, including extended health insurance, social arrangements and campaigns alleviating stress.

Further information

Contact: Niels Gregers Hansen, Personnel Manager



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