Older aged workers in your company: what do you need for employment and retention?

Ai Group has been invited to provide views on behalf of members in order to finalise the Australian Government’s new Mature Age Employment Package, due for release during 2018 (see below for details on how to have your say). In assisting mature age Australians, the Package will in turn address predicted labour shortages due to the ageing of the workforce that the Australian Productivity Commission expects to start in the early 2020s.

Ai Group has been providing advice and services to members around mature age workers through the Australian Government’s Corporate Champions program (2012-15) and other tools and strategies. Recruiting and retaining mature age employees and having them work safely and productively will become the key to success for many businesses in the future. A business should aim to support a valued mature age employee who has worked reliably and productively for a long period of time in the business – especially if they have skills that might be in short supply.

Some older employees may be physically struggling and fatigued in their roles, leading to a decline in both work and wellbeing and an increase in workplace health and safety concerns. In fact, numerous studies have identified the impact of ageing on our bodies with the average person experiencing a progressive decline in physical capacity including aerobic capacity, muscle strength and joint flexibility throughout adult life.

There are many approaches to addressing the implications of an ageing workforce. A simple start is to complete this Mature Age Workforce Planning Tool. Also available in our Online Events Library is an informative webinar where our HR, IR and Safety experts discuss the benefits and risks in managing mature age workers.

In managing your workforce it is important to examine your HR data. This often provides evidence that contradicts the stereotypes about mature age workers. However, by looking across your workforce, you may find patterns relating to productivity, absenteeism or injuries that can be managed by changes in job design, ergonomics, working arrangements or other accommodations that will assist both workers and the business. Further strategies are detailed in the Corporate Champions program’s Investing in Experience Toolkit.

On a proactive level, organisations may wish to review their WHS systems, job designs, hazard assessments etc. in order to ensure a safe system of work across the generations. You can also contact our Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 if older employees raise concerns that performance expectations are harsh, unfair or discriminatory. Or if you are wanting to explore any strategies relating to managing mature age workforces or to learn more about them you can speak to one of our HR specialists.

The Australian Government’s new Package for 2018 focuses on the training, recruitment and employment of mature age people. It comprises:

  • an expansion and enhancement of the National Work Experience Programme;
  • a Career Transition Assistance Program trial with a focus on providing more assistance for mature age job seekers to identify opportunities in the local labour markets and ways in which to reskill; and
  • Pathway to Work pilots, an industry-based initiative to create linkages between mature age people and employers.

What are the main areas of support that you need in the recruitment, retention and transitioning of older employees? Do you have a successful strategy in your company that you can share? Please contact Anne Younger in Ai Group’s Education and Training Policy team with your company’s experiences and comments relating to the Package outlines and consultation questions.

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Anne joined Ai Group as an economist and is currently our General Manager, Education and Training. She is responsible for policy development and major projects addressing members’ education and training issues. Anne previously managed Ai Group's national team of Enterprise Connect Business Advisers charged with helping SMEs to improve productivity. Holding a Master of Education (Educational Leadership and Management) and a Bachelor of Economics, Anne worked for over 25 years in the VET sector in policy, research, training and quality management roles before joining Ai Group. She is a Board member of Innovation and Business Skills Australia (IBSA).

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