Posts Tagged working longer
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.
This quote comes from the conclusion of Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan’s report “Working past our 60s: Reforming laws and policies for the older worker‘ – released yesterday. It’s a comprehensive report that tackles some of the long held elephants in the room that have proved to be showstoppers for workers who want to continue working. But as Mark Butler, Federal Minister for the Ageing said in a CEDA SA address today, the government can only do so much.
The other half of this story is about employers changing work practices, redesigning roles and providing support for their existing and future mature employees to participate productively and positively. Don’t be overwhelmed by this. We think change starts with small steps – even tweaks. (Programs like Envisage for example!) But nothing will change and you will go over the demographic cliff if you don’t provide interventions now.
What can you do differently to ensure you retain and attract mature workers who want to work past their 60s?
For many organisations, their next worker is right under their nose! Your next worker could be the employee who is considering working longer but differently. But what interventions are you using to help that person make that decision? And are you ensuring that you are retaining their deep knowledge as well?
We love the Deloitte report produced November last year – Building the Lucky Country: Where is your next worker? It’s divided into digestible chapters covering the levers for population, participation and productivity - the three ‘P’ supply-side contributors to economic growth as outlined by Ken Henry, former secretary of the Australian Treasury. This is a must read for anyone producing a business case for responding to the demographic cliff and subsequent skill shortages.
If mature age solutions is high on your radar, then flick straight to page 22 – Lever 5: Your next worker is retired – or about to retire. You have all you need to build your business case for interventions that will help you retain deep industry knowledge, market experience and technical expertise. What are you actively doing to encourage mature age workers to remain productively employed for as long as they wish?
Here are the pearls we gleaned (nothing terribly new BUT oh, so well packaged and eloquently expressed):
- By 2050, more than 1 in 5 Australians will be 65 or older (versus less than 1 in 7 in 2010)
- There is little scope to increase the already high workforce participation of those aged 15-54. By contrast, the population aged 55 – 70 is a massive untapped source of productive capacity. There will be over 5 miillion Australians in this age bracket in 2030. Based on current participation rates for those over 55, only 1.73 million people would still be in the workforce in that year.
- Financial rewards alone do not necessarily lead to improved performance. Some of the most important motivators are having a meaninful purpose, the ability to develop mastery of a skill and the permission to be self-directed (autonomy). Other motivators lie in an organisation’s ability to engage retirees to be self directed, to create purpose at work for themselves and others and to allow them to continue to develop mastery in a skill they are truly passionate about.
Each lever in the report has a green box for reflecting on the business opportunities with great questions like:
- What percentage of your workforce will retire in the next five years?
- What alternative jobs or flexible arrangements with more work-life balance can your organisation offer to encourage retiring workers to keep working?
- Have you considered providing personal financial advice to your employees in this stage of their life, within the package of benefits provided by the organisastion?
- How are you supporting and encouraging your retiring workers to pass on knowledge in critical competencies to other employees?
Thanks to Deloitte for a great paper. If you want to do something about it, Sageco can help you navigate the ageing workforce puzzle.
The recent Australian Federal Budget decision to reward employers of mature age workers with $1000, generated a bunch of articles in mainstream and industry press about mature workers – the barriers and the opportunities. Given our 10 year focus on the risks and challenges posed to organisations by this demographic shift in the workforce, we are avid absorbers of all research and commentary. We would love to read something more ground breaking and insightful than a regurgitation of the barriers of discrimination, the inevitability of retirement and the general assumptions about mature workers . That said, anything that keeps mature workers firmly on the agenda is good. But in the words of Elvis, “a little less conversation, a little more action please”.
Here are our suggestions for actions and a more thoughtful approach:
- Don’t treat ‘mature age workers’ as an homogeneous group; within this demographic there is a raft of diverse needs and ambitions. Are they long term unemployed? Are they wanting to ‘downsize’ their work responsibilities? Do they want a more flexible role? Do they want a complete career change? Are they seeking a portfolio of a career? Do they need less physical load in their role? Do they simply need more time to address caring responsibilities? Are they experts in their field whom you need to retain for their knowledge?
- As an employer, how can you redesign roles that suit the needs and ambitions of the mature age worker you want to retain or employ?
- As an employer, how are you supporting your current mature age workers to make decisions about their future work and retirement plans? Unless we challenge the assumption of retirement and create options for work beyond the traditional age of retirement, we won’t be successful in increasing workforce participation for this demographic. Take a look at Envisage for instance!
- As a mature age worker, what are you doing to stay connected and current and marketable to future employers? There is plenty of free and low cost help available to help you shape your approach to your career.
- As a manager, what deeply held stereotypes do you adhere to when thinking about employing or retaining a mature worker? What are you doing about shifting those and what will you miss out on if you don’t?
By all means, reward employers who employ mature age workers. But if they haven’t done some of the groundwork as mentioned above, it could be $1000 bucks down the drain.
Here are some of the better articles we’ve read lately – enjoy.
Adage - Mature workers feeling the love in Swan’s budget for battlers (an excellent breakdown of what the government is offering)
The Advertiser – Older workers not the retiring type (a positive article on working longer)
Human Capital Magazine – Mature age workers – added extras at no extra cost! (the argument for employing mature age workers)
Saipan Tribune (US) – Age, appearance and attitude (tackling some elephants in the room)
On-Line Opinion – Hiring older Australians – Lessons from Singapore (a compelling argument for how the money might have been better spent with better returns)
Twilighters, people aged 63 and above, have emerged as the fastest growing workforce segment group according to the May 2012 MyCareer Employment Forecast.
I’m not sure I would ever want to be called a ‘twilighter’ – but we’ll gladly add it to our wonderful list of euphemisms for ‘mature age workers’. What’s interesting about this report is the changing face of the workforce. The number of working people aged 63 and over has doubled in the last 15 years. It would seem that ‘twilighters’ aren’t simply a group of people ‘waiting to retire’ or trapped in a ‘work forever’ cycle. People are choosing to work longer and differently – for all sorts of reasons. This is THE fastest growing workforce segment group – faster than the Gen Ys!
So – five questions for employers might be:
- What are you doing differently in your workplace to ensure that you employ your fair share of ‘twilighters’?
- How would you attract a ‘twilighter’ to your workplace?
- What training ,development and support would you provide a ‘twilighter’?
- How will you retain your current employees so that they share the ‘twilight’ of their career with your organisation, rather that somewhere else?
- Is it age or attitude that matters?
Organisations that have planned and invested in mature age workers already will be the ones that benefit from this dynamic workforce segment.
The Australian Human Resources Institute have just released a their pulse survey findings about mature age workforce participation. It’s a neat snapshot of the sentiments of 1212 AHRI members. No surprises, but it confirms Sageco’s findings over the last seven years.
Here are some of the key points with our ideas for solutions:
- Just under half the respondents said the departure of older workers from their workplace has caused a loss of key knowledge or skills.
- Approximately 20% report that the departure of older workers has caused the organisation to be less competitive.
- More than 80% would like to see steps taken to retain older workers.
(Sageco’s Exchange program provides a strong framework for transferring knowledge between workforce generations and developing older workers as knowledge coaches. It distils the critical knowledge requirements, bolsters natural knowledge sharing and enables the intentional transfer of knowledge before older workers choose to retire. In fact, older workers may choose to continue working albeit differently – with a key component of their role as a knowledge coach.)
- Over two thirds or respondents believe the retention of older workers would benefit productivity.
- More than 75% see retaining older workers as a necessary precaution against the sudden loss of essential knowledge and skills.
(Sageco’s Envisage program is a visible, tangible way to support mature workers making work and retirement decisions. If you seriously want to retain mature workers, you need to support them as they plan for their career, their finances, health and relationships. Help them answer the question, “If not retirement, then what else?” Help your mature workers create a positive and productive future.)
Thank you to AHRI for providing the snapshot about this much discussed issue. This data cannot be ignored. Compare the cost of proactive investment in your current mature employees to the cost of recruiting, replacing, losing knowledge and losing competitiveness. Take action now.