Employers napping on ageing workforce

by 15 May 2007

ONLY 17 per cent of employers in Australia have strategies in place to recruit older workers and only 29 per cent have implemented retention strategies to keep them participating in the workforce, a global study has found.

“Many employers are not considering the percentage of their workforce that is set to retire in the next five to 10 years, and the potential loss of productivity and intellectual capital that will occur when those people leave their company,” said Scott McLachlan, managing director, Manpower Australia and New Zealand, which conducted the study.

“In Australia we have 26 per cent of our current workers already over the age of 50 so the short-term impact is critical. If employers don’t act soon they will fail to win the war for talent, as older adults will be relied upon as one of the most important sources of talent for the future workforce.”

The extent to which employers have addressed the recruitment and retention of older workers to ease talent shortages depends upon a variety of complex factors. However, major variables include: the size of the national labour pool; the demographic profile of the labour pool; the degree to which talent shortages are being experienced at present; and government legislation or programs that either promote or discourage labour force participation by older workers.

Australia is impacted by a relatively small labour pool, combined with a rapidly aging workforce.

The global survey of 28,000 employers across 25 countries and territories, found that employers in Japan and Singapore are far ahead of their international counterparts with 83 and 53 per cent of employers surveyed, respectively, working proactively to retain their older employees.

Conversely, in Italy and Spain far fewer employers, both at six per cent, have such strategies in place. In 19 of the 25 countries where employers were surveyed, retention strategies were more prevalent than recruiting strategies for older workers.

Jeffrey Joerres, CEO of Manpower, said the conundrum on the horizon is that the older employees who have the talent companies most need to retain are those who have the financial flexibility and employment options to retire or downshift to a more flexible work arrangement.


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