Australian companies that know how to deal with older workers
Just as companies have shifted on the area of gender and race diversity in the workplace, they now need to change their mindset to encourage older workers to remain employed.
Australian companies need to adopt aged worker-friendly policies in order to survive and attract the best talent.
PwC’s The Golden Age Index report found businesses should look to adopt flexible working policies, such as “phased retirement”, or expanding training programs to encourage and support their older workforce.
“They should also take steps to achieve age diversity, for example through opening up apprenticeship schemes to older workers so that they can capitalise on their experience,” the report said.
PwC people and organisation partner Jon Williams said Australian companies had made gains on improving diversity in the workplace but needed a mindset change to implement policies to attract and retain older staff.
“Companies need to change workplace policies to allow people to work much more flexibly and they need to change culture,” Mr Williams said.
“We’ve moved on the diversity lens now we need to extend that to age.”
He said when blue collar jobs were automated the whole job was lost, but when it came to white collar roles only parts would be replaced.
“In the long term we’re going to need human skills, not computer skills, intuition and application of experience to solve social problems and that fits well into the older workforce’s skills, and unless we tap into these people we’re going to undercut our ability as a country.”
Mr Williams said there was no reason why older workers couldn’t be taught science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills but also the next wave of jobs in aged care would value older workers with life experience skills.
Companies such as electricity operator Transgrid are implementing plans to encourage older workers to remain employed.
The company undertakes strategic workforce planning each year to enable analysis of risks and fill gaps over the next five to 10 years.
It found a number of years ago there was an “age-cliff” as many engineers planned for retirement.
In response, the organisation brought on quite a number of graduates over a few years in preparation for transferring mid-career engineers into senior engineering roles.
Staff are also given other benefits including flexible work arrangements to phased retirement such as a condensed four-day week, a nine-day fortnight, 35-hour week, 15 per cent superannuation and personal leave of 18 days a year.
At Australia Post, 50 per cent of the workforce is over 45 years of age.
In 2010 the company introduced a policy whereby those over 53 years of age and with at least five years’ continuous service have been able to request flexible working arrangements in order to transition to retirement.
Employees may access their accrued long service leave or annual leave on a regular or patterned basis to maintain their salary.
With five generations in the workforce for the first time in its history, Westpac provides employees aged over 50 a “Prime of Life” program where they are given support to plan their next move, including transition to retirement.
Source: Australian Financial Review
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