Video | Agriculture | Confidence | Economy | Energy | Employment | Finance | Media | Property | RBNZ | Science | SOEs | Tax | Technology | Telecoms | Tourism | Transport | Search


Phil O’Reilly on older workers

Liam Butler interviews Business NZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly.

20 January 2015

Liam Butler

Phil, how can the golden age worker continue to enjoy being part of the workplace?

Projections show older people will be a bigger force in the economy in coming years.Our fairly modest birth rate means in the near future our population will have a smaller share of younger people and larger share of older people.

How will this play out in the workforce? It will mean businesses will be keen to hold on to older workers with relevant skills who perform highly.

It will mean more older people applying for jobs - and getting them - and continuing to contribute to the workplace and the economy.

It will mean everyone getting used to a more age-diverse workforce. For those of us who are middle aged or older, there are a few things to keep in mind to help us continue to be a valued part of the workforce. The most important is skills. Businesses are chronically undersupplied with skills specific to their workplace. Someone who keeps updating their skills - the ones needed by employers - will continue to be valued at work. We can continue updating our skills in many ways - by undertaking training, by reading, researching and keeping an interest in developments in our area of work, and by choosing projects or assignments in our current work that require us to learn valuable new skills.

Updating skills is often a state of mind more than anything else.

Being okay with asking for help in learning things is important. There's a give and take attitude to learning that is very prevalent in the workplace today and most of us are learning off each other most of the time. You see it a lot in relation to computer and online skills. Here the skill requirements are changing so rapidly that most of us are in a constant state of learning.

Perhaps the best thing an older person could do would be to get used to asking for help. There's no shame in it - it's a mark of pride to be actively seeking skills. We should get used to jotting down the things we learn, and looking at the notes a lot. It takes time to learn new things so we should practise frequently to let them sink in.

Another requirement for continued success in the workplace is getting along with people. ‘People strengths' - patience, helpfulness, courtesy and respect - are needed to achieve work goals in every workplace. And rather than giving respect only to the boss, it's needed for everyone.

One of the biggest changes I have noticed over recent years is that hierarchies have become flattened. These days it's not so much that the boss is on top and the workers underneath. In the past, the focus at work used to be mostly on the boss - the main objective of your work used to be for him (it was usually a ‘him'). But these days the focus is less on the boss and more on the company's purpose and its customers. In a successful workplace both you and the boss will be totally focused on these.

Being passionate about your company's purpose and its customers is a sure way to continue to add value to your workplace. I believe that a key thing holding back older workers from enjoying success in the workplace is undervaluing their own experience. Sometimes it may feel that younger colleagues have all the answers. It can feel as if your contribution to the workplace is somehow less valuable than that of younger workmates. But the experience that an older person has accumulated through life is enormously valuable. It can bring qualities such as self-discipline, good judgment, tolerance, perseverance and empathy.These qualities are critically needed at work. Sometimes they can be the key determinant of success or failure of an enterprise.

The golden age worker has much to be proud of. The next few years will see many more seniors continuing to enjoy being part of the workforce. Concentrating on our skills, people strengths, and the purpose and customers of our workplace will help us continue to achieve satisfaction and success at work.

About Phil O'Reilly.

Phil O'Reilly is Chief Executive of BusinessNZ, New Zealand's largest business advocacy group, representing thousands of businesses of all sizes.

Phil and his Wellington-based team work with companies, organisations and political and other decision makers, advocating for New Zealand's success through sustainable economic growth.

Phil regularly meets with Ministers and Members of Parliament, making submissions to Government and community groups, and is in daily contact with media representing the goals of business for a more successful New Zealand.

His background includes industrial advocacy and leadership roles in banking, publishing and media.

He is Chair of the Board of the Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD and is New Zealand's employer delegate to the International Labour Conference.

In New Zealand Phil chaired the Green Growth Advisory Group, and is Chair or Member of several public and private advisory boards in areas as diverse as manufacturing, exports, tertiary education, trade, tax, retirement, R&D, innovation, employment, child poverty, health & safety, skills, government procurement and sustainable business.

© Scoop Media

Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines


Tiwai Point: Rio Tinto Announces Plans To Close Tiwai Point Smelter

Rio Tinto has just announced that it will wind down New Zealand Aluminium Smelters - the Tiwai Point smelter - saying the business is no longer viable. More>>


Freight: New Report On Auckland Port Relocation

The Government has released a major new report on the options for relocating the Port of Auckland’s freight operations while deferring any decision on the issue. More>>


Chartered Accountants: COVID-19 Fails To Knock Kiwi Investor Confidence, But More Disclosure Wanted

Three months of COVID-19 lockdown and investment turmoil has done little to knock confidence in New Zealand capital markets and listed companies with overall investor sentiment very similar to 2019, an investor survey held in mid June shows. However, ... More>>


Taxation: Black-Market Tobacco Sidesteps $287 Million In Excise Tax

Year-on-year increases in consumption of illicit tobacco in New Zealand have seen illegal trade swell to 11.5% of the total market. If consumed legally, illicit products would have netted the Government $287 million in excise tax during 2019. Independent ... More>>


Energy Sector: Meridian Spilled Water To Hike Electricity Prices - Authority Ruling

The Electricity Authority has found that generator Meridian Energy manipulated the power market, costing consumers about $80 million. More>>


XE Data Update: RBNZ Official Cash Rate Decision

The RBNZ will keep the Official Cash Rate (OCR) at 0.25%. T he key points in the RBNZ statement are: RBNZ keeps the OCR unchanged at 0.25% Maintain the LSAP (large scale asset purchase) at NZD$60 billion. Committee prepared to use additional monetary ... More>>


Electricity: Kiwis Ignore Promise Of Cheaper Power

Electric Kiwi and Flick Electric Co are joint winners of Canstar Blue’s award for Most Satisfied Customers | Electricity Providers From putting on an extra layer – rather than turning on a heater – to turning off lights and choosing the energy-saving ... More>>


Electricity: Transmission Pricing For A Low Carbon Future

The Electricity Authority has decided on new guidelines for transmission pricing. James Stevenson-Wallace, Chief Executive of the Electricity Authority says the new guidelines will deliver significant benefits to consumers, through lower electricity ... More>>


RNZ: Economic Activity And Business Confidence Bouncing Back

Two surveys from ANZ show business confidence and economic activity have rebounded, but uncertainty about the future remains extreme. More>>


NIWA: The Climate Record That Keeps Getting Broken

Among the multitude of New Zealand climate statistics there is one record that continues to be broken month after month. Since January 2017 there has not been one month that recorded a below average nationwide temperature, according to NIWA’s seven station ... More>>


Govt: Extended Loan Scheme Keeps Business Afloat

Small businesses are getting greater certainty about access to finance with an extension to the interest-free cashflow loan scheme to the end of the year. The Small Business Cashflow Loan Scheme has already been extended once, to 24 July. Revenue and Small ... More>>


Science: 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes Announced

The 2019 Prime Minister’s Science Prizes have been announced in a digital livestream event today. The Prizes recognise the impact of science on New Zealanders’ lives, celebrate the achievements of current scientists and encourage scientists of the ... More>>


RNZ: Fuel, Alcohol Costs To Go Up From Today

The increase today in the taxes on fuel, road user charges and alcohol is being called a tone-deaf move. More>>


Stardome Observatory: Young Kiwi Astro-Photographer Shoots For The Stars

Matariki by Josh Kirkley. The stars are aligning for up-and-coming Auckland-based astro-photographer Josh Kirkley (Kāi Tahu). During lockdown, one of his images was picked up by NASA and shared on the space agency’s Instagram to its 59.2 million ... More>>

DCANZ: Time For EU To Commit To A Level Playing Field For Trade

The Dairy Companies Association of New Zealand (DCANZ) has welcomed New Zealand Trade Minister David Parker’s statement that it is unacceptable for New Zealand exporters to continue facing an ‘unlevel playing field’ in the EU. Details leaked ... More>>


New Zealand Government: Supporting Kiwi Businesses To Resolve Rent Disputes

The Government will legislate to ensure businesses that suffered as a result of the COVID-19 response will get help to resolve disputes over commercial rent issues, Justice Minister Andrew Little announced today. More>>