Stemming the tide of retirement

AUSTRALIAN AND New Zealand employers need to proactively change their workplace arrangements for mature age workers if they wish to attract and retain the most experienced section of their workforce, a recent report has found

AUSTRALIAN AND New Zealand employers need to proactively change their workplace arrangements for mature age workers if they wish to attract and retain the most experienced section of their workforce, a recent study has found.

With the Australian and New Zealand economies under increasing pressure as a result of skill shortages, a failure to accommodate the needs of the ageing workforce stands to have a crippling effect on the public and private sectors, said Anne Hatton, CEO of Hudson Australia/New Zealand, which conducted the study.

The study of more than 1,000 workers over the age of 40 in Australia and New Zealand highlighted the fact that, without significant change, organisations will experience a continued decline in the pool of mature age workers they can attract and retain.

This issue is at the forefront of government policy on both sides of the Tasman. Over the past four years, the Australian Government has highlighted this trend, and made a commitment to increase the participation of mature age workers aged 55 to 64 years by 10 per cent to 15 per cent.

The study found that when full-time work combines a bundle of more progressive work arrangements, business can expect only 1.2 per cent of its mature age workers to retire, as opposed to 10.1 per cent who would retire when only basic working conditions are offered.

In addition, progressive working arrangements will see a whopping 68.6 per cent of mature age workers opting for full or part-time work as opposed to only 12.1 per cent when basic working conditions are offered.

Furthermore, organisations need to understand the need to help mature age workers transition effectively and positively through this stage of their working careers. Contract, consulting and part-time work was found to be very appealing to mature age workers.

“Current, inflexible working conditions are a significant reason for declining participation rates of mature age workers in the workforce. In order to combat this trend, organisations need to create more accommodating and attractive work environments,” Hatton said.

Employers should establish an Employee Value Proposition (EVP) that targets the engagement of mature age workers, according to Hatton, so they can capitalise on the wealth of knowledge and expertise mature age workers have to offer. “Ignoring this issue has the potential to derail economic growth in Australia,” she said.

An organisation’s EVP should incorporate transparent mechanisms to provide recognition of all employees’ talents, and provide new and appropriate challenges to workers on the basis of merit, not age.

The study also found Australian mature age workers place greater value on attributes such as recognition, flexible work hours and the opportunity to mentor others in the workplace.

New Zealand workers were more concerned about the workplace providing new challenges, the ability to extend their annual holidays, the ability to work from home and to work in different areas than they currently had.

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