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Smart employers know the value of older workers

Smart employers know the value of older workers

Tuesday 15 September 2015

Retaining and employing older workers is becoming an increasingly smart solution for businesses in the attraction of skills and talent. Over the coming years there will not only be a decreased labour supply, but a sudden loss in skills and experience as increasing numbers of ‘baby boomers’ reach retirement age.

New Zealand is well ahead of most other OECD countries in recognising the value of older workers, coming second only to Iceland in terms of employing people aged 65 years and over. However, a recent report from AUT University and the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust shows that when it comes to recruitment, older workers are the least used option - coming well behind recruiting more female or immigrant workers.

Tauranga Chamber of Commerce, Age Concern and Priority One are hosting a one day forum on Monday 21 September in Tauranga that will provide tools to support employers and employees undertake the transition that will be required as a result of the ageing demographic.

Adrienne von Tunzelmann from Age Concern says “One of the most common ways of dealing with skills shortages is to encourage existing older workers to stay on past retirement age. Although retirement-aged workers currently only make up five per cent of the workforce, they will comprise 13 per cent by 2036. This means considering more flexible working arrangements, ensuring jobs are restructured and designed to suit older workers, developing leadership strategies and succession planning.”

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A recent report from PwC economists on harnessing the power of older workers concludes that countries can add billions of dollars to their economy if they follow best practice in harnessing the potential of their older workers. The Workforce Ageing Survey 2014 found workers aged 50 and over are seen as valuable and hardworking by employers, and are regarded as more productive and better in a crisis.

“It’s important to ensure that your organisation is one that is attractive to older workers, as skill shortages increase and there is more competition for experienced and talented people,” says Chamber of Commerce Operations Manager, Anne Pankhurst. “More mature workers tend to require lower levels of training and less supervision, are often more reliable and loyal, and have a strong work ethic. They have also collected a lifetime of skills and experience, and can provide value as mentors to younger people in an organisation.” While money is one reason people work longer, other reasons include job satisfaction, mental stimulation, the physical activity or a sense they were making a useful contribution.

Despite the advantages of older workers and their increasing value in relation to future skill shortages, most New Zealand organisations do not have a policy in place to address the issue of ageing workers and to reap the benefits of this demographic. This includes a lack of planning to specifically recruit and retain older people in the workforce.

The forum on 21 September will include workshops to show businesses how they can become the employer of choice as they face the next frontier of transition as our workforce ages. It will also help people explore opportunities when planning for the latter stages of their career paths.


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