HR keeps older workers on the books

by Elizabeth Barnard03 Sep 2012

New figures released from the Treasury today indicate that a new trend is underway in the employment of older workers – workers older than 55 want to hang on to their jobs, and employers want to keep them.

Treasurer Wayne Swan this morning addressed a Sydney conference to launch a new KPMG report on the ROI for employing older workers. Encouraging older workers to stay in the workforce could yield a $48bn increase to Australia’s productivity, Swan said.

In the report it was found that the lion’s share of Australia’s employment growth has been in the bracket of workers over 55 years of age, indicating that employers are increasingly seeing the benefits of hiring from this talent pool. The figures show that in the last financial year, employment figures for the +55 bracket increased by 3.9%, in stark comparison to the under 54 bracket which did not change.

What’s more, in NSW the growth in the number of older workers was even more marked, with the employment rate of older workers rising by 4.2%.

Yet it seems the employment prospects for workers over 55 are only rosy if they are already employed. “It's still much harder to find a job if you are over 55, but if you are already employed and you pass 55 you are much more likely to stay employed,” Australian National University labour market expert Bob Gregory told the Australian Financial Review.

One reason for the improved employment landscape is simply that there are more workers in this age bracket than in previous decades, and this has coincided with dramatic growth in the employment of women, Gregory said.

According to one recruitment expert, it’s time for HR to consider the real benefits of employing employees over 40 years of age. Research has revealed workers in this age bracket are:

  • More stable and committed to the company
  • Possess a better work ethic and more satisfied in their work
  • Are generally more productive and more profitable
  • Have lower rates of absenteeism and sick leave
  • Suffer fewer accidents and injuries in the workplace

“Most are also looking for a better work-life balance having done the hard yards, long hours and corporate ladder climbing in past years. They just want to continue to contribute but be able to knock off and go home without taking the stress of management with them,” Ron Browne from PLUS40 wrote in HC.


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