Embracing Australia’s ageing workforce

As the world’s population continues to grow and becomes increasingly older we are experiencing a change in the traditional organisational structure of employment. For many, a number of socio economic factors, have led to a prolonged working life and as a result, the retirement age has become redundant. So, whilst the recent news that Australian Treasurer, Joe Hockey, wants to raise the nation’s retirement age to 70, this has little impact for those with delayed retirement on the agenda already. 

The Productivity Commission reported that by 2050 the population of Australians aged 65+ will have risen by 6% to 20% *, and with 3.4% of Australia’s total workforce currently still in employment** this is a vital group of talent for businesses to benefit from. With at least two decades worth of invaluable work experience under their belt, not only can they bring experience and maturity with them, but a strong work ethic which younger people can benefit from. It is important businesses make a conscious effort to focus on the development of their older staff, keeping them motivated to perform, whilst ensuring employees feel their loyalty and commitment is being adequately rewarded.

For this reason, HR departments need to examine their employee development strategies – because it is here that the root of better engagement and productivity lies. Some workers may be feeling threatened by younger colleagues, or are worried about the future of their position at the company. Implementing effective career development strategies, to enhance current skills for upward mobility and improved performance will reassure older workers and ensure they feel adequately supported. But employees need to become au fait with identifying their own development needs too. While it is still the responsibility of the business to nurture growth with the right tools, the power of career development can be transferred to the employee, giving them a degree of control of their own progression. Career development is often overlooked and underfunded yet there are few better ways through which to ensure success than by empowering employees with the tools they need to achieve core business outcomes. In the long run, integrating a structure around staff engagement means employers will be able to maximise the skills and productivity contribution of all their workers whilst reducing costly staff turnover, translating to better business results.

As we continue to live longer, healthier lives and inter-generational working becomes the norm, employers need to respond appropriately to cater to their staffs’ needs. Those that respond appropriately will gain significant competitive advantage in terms of recruiting and retaining productive workers, because not only do older workers have a broader range of skills and experience which they are able to transfer across the workforce, but reduced staff turnover is critical in the current economic climate. Keeping employees of any age engaged is therefore an essential factor in driving growth and innovation within your business.

* http://www.pc.gov.au/research/commission/ageing-australia

** http://mccrindle.com.au/resources/2013/Older-Workers-Downagers-and-...


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