On Monday in her speech at the National Convention Centre in Canberra (‘Australia’s Welfare 2011′), Susan Ryan called for new visionary thinking when it comes to mature age workers.
We need to create a more fluid working environment where we are encouraged to keep learning at intervals throughout our life cycle – in a workforce that lets us move in and out – at any age, without penalty.
Today at an employer roundtable luncheon convened by The Age Discrimination Unit in conjunction with Sageco, The Commissioner was therefore encouraged and enlightened to hear from organisations doing just this.
Organisations in attendance were at various stages of their age management journey, from building the business case through to showcasing Award winning strategies. Telstra, National Australia Bank, QBE, Service First, PepsiCo, TabCorp and 2disccover shared their thoughts, their challenges, their initiatives and the positive impact of their strategies with the group and members of The Australian Human Rights Commission team.
Catalysts for taking action were explored. What was it that made these organisations move forward in developing mature age strategies and solutions?
- the data story – including a comparison of the average age of retirement within the organisation to the national average (59)
- health and safety – in roles with a high level of physicality and an ageing workforce
- knowledge loss – key people in the business retiring and taking with them critical know-how
- a wave of premature retirements and the mention by one executive that he ‘didn’t want to drop dead two years from now!’
Attraction and recruitment. Why are more mature workers not breaking through to final offer stage?
- a triple edged sword – successful placement requires a combination of marketable mature workers, age positive recruiters, and enlightened employers
- over qualified – the assumption being made that an experienced worker is not prepared to ‘downsize’ in late career
- ‘language’ – communication used in job ads by agencies and employers screening out mature workers at application stage
Retention. What are some of the triggers for retirement and how can organisations enable working longer, but differently?
- unconscious bias – unearthing myths, assumptions and stereotypes residing amongst people leaders
- conversations – enabling authentic conversations between mature workers and their people leaders
- flexibility – throughout the life course, all ages, all stages
- culture – creating an environment where mature workers feel valued and acknowledged for their experience
…and so much more!
Older workers have always been, and will continue to be, an important part of the Australian workforce. We are on the cusp of a vastly changing demographic, and it is now necessary for older workers to remain in the workforce to support Australia’s society and economy
- The Hon Susan Ryan, Age Discrimination Commissioner