Mature-aged workers excluded from retention initiatives

by 19 Nov 2009

Supporting mature workers and working par ents in the workplace is imperative for com pany success, according to Gareth Bennett, HR director at law firm, Freehills.

Speaking at a recent round table discus sion on what has been coined “the triple-deck er sandwich challenge”, Bennett emphasised the need for companies to recognise and ac commodate those employees who have mul tiple levels of carer responsibilities.

“This topic moves away from it being a ‘nice thing to do’ and ‘the right thing to do’,” said Bennett. “It is the only thing to do from a commercial perspective.”

Facilitated by the NSW Equal Employ ment Opportunity Practitioners’ Association (NEEOPA), the panel of experts at the round table discussed how to deal with the in creasing number of workers who find them selves supporting their children, grandchil dren and their ageing parents – thus providing care-giving to three generations of family.

Because of the trend of mature workers working longer, the panel heard that employ ers will need to develop strategies to support this demographic of workers.

“Given that mature workers represent a third of our total workforce, employers need to un derstand and connect with this generation and support them to be able to work longer” said Alison Monroe, Director of SageCo.

Monroe also talked about how companies often have very innovative retention strategies but very often these strategies do not promote diversity and inclusion. She suggested that companies should analyse their retention strategies and ask themselves whether the goal of the strategy is to retain everybody within the organisation and not just certain groups.

“When developing HR initiatives and processes to attract, recruit and retain employees, it is worth taking a look through the ‘diversity lens,’” said Monroe. “With an increasingly blended workforce across the diversity spectrum, it is essential to ensure inclusiveness for all so as not to miss out on the talent pool of the future.”

Some of the top strategies the panel sug gested were: introduce a working parents program, enhance flexible work options across all stages of the life course and in crease the attraction, engagement and re tention of mature workers

Monroe provided a further 3 top tips for reviewing HR initiatives through the diversity lens:

1. Review your job ads and careers website to ensure they reflect inclusive language and imagery – and are not alienating a particular group

2. Take stock of your testing, assessment and selection processes – mature workers and parents returning to the workforce may be going through this for the first time in a long time, so don’t set them up to fail!

3. Team building and staff events – boot camps and rock climbing may be fantastic fun but will they exclude certain groups from participating?


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